Review of the Fairfax County Public Schools Advanced Academic Programs Executive Summary

External Review of FCPS Advanced Academic Programs

Published: 2013

Summary of Program Review

Three guiding questions were used to review AAP. Results of the review indicate that FCPS is providing an exemplary program for students with gifts and talents. The results for each guiding question are summarized below:

1. To what extent is FCPS practice in the identified focus area aligned with best practices in the field of gifted education and comparable districts?

FCPS AAP practice meets or exceeds all NAGC standards. AAP meets or exceeds the requirements of the VDOE regulations. AAP meets or exceeds comparable local, state and national programs.

2. To what extent is FCPS practice in the identified focus area perceived to be effective by relevant stakeholders?

Overwhelmingly, parents and students believe that AAP is positive, important, and effective. In fact, the students would like more opportunities with AAP, such as more in-depth study. Teachers and administrators perceive AAP to be an effective and positive experience for students, as well.

3. What are the FCPS strengths and areas for improvement in the identified focus area? What are the recommendations for improvement and potential expansion?

AAP has key strengths in each focus area. For Identification Procedures, the Young Scholars program is a model program supporting talent development of students from historically underserved populations so that their potential may be uncovered, identified, and supported.

For Curriculum and Instruction, the plethora of research-based curricula developed by experts in the field, the consistent focus on critical thinking in classrooms, and the multiplicity of instructional strategies to support critical and creative thinking are strengths of this program. Stakeholders were very positive about curriculum and instruction.

For Teacher Certification and Professional Development, parents, students, and administrators believe that teachers are effective and engaging students in critical thinking. In addition, the professional development courses are strong.

For Quality of Program Services, the multiplicity of options offered to students in the elementary and middle schools exceeds all comparisons and all stakeholder groups are satisfied with the overall quality of the program. The areas for development or expansion that were identified are expected in a district the size and scope of FCPS.

Overall, AAP is a highly successful program that benefits students and families and serves as a national and global model for identifying and providing a multiplicity of services to learners with gifts and talents. FCPS is to be commended for this forward- thinking program, and deserves to be a source of pride for Fairfax County.

Principal Investigators

Lori C. Bland, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Assessment, Evaluation, and Data-Driven Decision-Making (DDDM) at George Mason University is an expert in program evaluation and educational assessment, gifted education, and data-driven decision- making. Her research interests focus on decision-making within multiple contexts and measuring growth of gifted learners. She also teaches masters and doctoral level courses in Program Evaluation and Educational Assessment. Dr. Bland has also taught graduate courses in gifted education for The University of Virginia and The College of William and Mary, including courses related to identifying gifted learners; curriculum for gifted learners; gifted program planning, design, and evaluation; and the social and emotional needs of gifted learners. Immediately prior to entering higher education, Dr. Bland was the Director for Measurement and Test Development at Pearson/National Evaluation Systems (NES) for teacher certification and licensure examinations. She was the Supervisor of Testing in Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) and a Research and Program Evaluation Specialist in the Office of Program Evaluation and Testing in Fairfax County Public Schools in the early ‘90s. Dr. Bland’s undergraduate degree is from George Washington University in Elementary Education. She received both of her graduate degrees from the University of Virginia in Educational Psychology, with a concentration in gifted education. She is currently on the Editorial Board for Gifted Child Quarterly and has served on the leadership team of the Professional Development Network for the National Association of Gifted Children. She has published articles on evaluating gifted programs, the social and emotional needs of gifted children, and curricula for gifted learners, was the editor for several volumes of early childhood science curricula for gifted learners, and was a co-author on several reports for the National Research on the Gifted and Talented on gifted identification and evaluation instruments.

Beverly D. Shaklee, Ed.D., Professor and Director, Advanced Studies in Teacher Development and International Education at George Mason University, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Elementary and Educational Psychology (Gifted) from the University of Kansas. She received her doctorate in early childhood education from Mississippi State University. She has published and presented many papers on gifted child education, teacher education, assessment and international education. She has served as a board member for the National Association for Gifted Children and SENG (Social/Emotional Needs of Gifted Children) association. She co-authored the original standards in teacher education for NAGC. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the Alliance for International Education and the Association for the Advancement of International Education. Further, she serves on the Research and Development Committee for the Council of Overseas Schools. Her latest book, Internationalizing U.S. Teacher Education, was noted as making a significant contribution to the field by the Journal of Research in International Education.

Anastasia Kitsantas, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Division of Educational Psychology Research Methods and Education Policy at George Mason University, is an expert in self-regulated learning and student motivational beliefs. Over the last 20 years she has produced more than 100 publications of which more than 60 are refereed data- driven research articles. Her scholarship has appeared in the most visible journals in the field including the Journal of Educational Psychology, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Journal of Experimental Education, Computers and Education, Metacognition and Learning, and the Journal of Early Adolescence. She has served as the junior and senior co-chair of the Studying and Self-Regulated Learning Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association and is currently serving as a Member at Large of Division 15, Educational Psychology, of the American Psychological Association. She presently serves on 6 journal editorial boards including Contemporary Educational Psychology, Educational Technology: Research and Development, Metacognition and Learning, and others. She has expertise in experimental designs and structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses. She has served as the Co-PI, lead researcher, internal and/or external evaluator of several grants. She is the recipient of a George Mason University Teaching Excellence Award.

Angela Miller, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Research Methods and Educational Psychology at George Mason University. Her research interests are in classroom motivation, focusing on the influence of the learning context on student motivational outcomes and achievement as well as the methodological challenges associated with analyzing classroom data. Her expertise is in research design and applied quantitative data analyses including HLM and SEM methods. Her publications have appeared in the Journal of Educational Psychology, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Social Psychology of Education, and The Elementary School Journal. She is a former high school teacher in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and has done consulting and program evaluation for multiple school districts.

April A Mattix, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education, College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University. Dr. Mattix teaches courses in international education and the International Baccalaureate. She is also the current co-editor of Focus on Elementary for the Association of Childhood Education International (ACEI). Dr. Mattix received her PhD in Language, Literacy and Culture from the University of Pittsburgh, her MAT in Elementary Education and Secondary Social Studies Education from Chatham University, her MA in International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, and her BA in History and Political Science  from Saint Francis University. Professionally, Dr. Mattix taught middle and elementary school at The Ellis School in Pittsburgh, PA, Golden Door Charter School in Jersey City, NJ, The Anglo American School of Moscow, Russia, and The International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Bill Allen, Ph.D., is a visiting scholar to George Mason University. He is the Deputy Associate Dean for International & Engagement (FoSHEE), the Deputy Academic Director for the International Projects Group, and a Senior Lecturer in Education at the School of Science & Education at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.  His research focuses on curriculum and implementation of instruction.

To request a complete report of the External Review of FCPS Advanced Academic Programs please contact the AAP Office at 571-423-4740.