Strategic Plan Executive Summary
The four goals have been defined by the Fairfax County School Board to address the seventeen key findings identified by Fairfax County stakeholders:
21st Century Learning
- FCPS is recognized nationally for academic excellence.
- Achievement gaps exist among student populations.
- Student growth is consistent at the cluster-level.
- Stakeholders agree FCPS delivers a high-quality education
- Programming, curriculum, and instruction quality are highly related to the overall quality of education.
- There is a lack of system alignment and consistent implementation of programs and initiatives.
- Changes in student populations and enrollment pose challenges for FCPS. The development of real world skill is valued.
- Stakeholders value educating and assessing the “whole child.”
- Additional technology support is necessary to make full use of current infrastructure.
Organizational Climate and Culture
- There is room for improvement in the student learning environment.
- High quality educators are a cornerstone of the division’s strengths.
- Employees are overwhelmed by the number of division initiatives.
- Stakeholders are concerned about teacher retention and quality.
- Communication is a division priority.
Finance and Operations
- FCPS’s financial state merits continued attention.
- Additional resources for capital improvements are necessary.
Stakeholders are proud of Fairfax County Public Schools students’ academic success. At the same time, stakeholders have aspirational goals that include a more holistic approach to education that addresses students’ social and emotional needs, incorporates the development of real world skills, and integrates a balanced assessment system. Employees and students want to delve deeply into coursework to optimize learning opportunities so every child graduates college and career ready.
Fairfax County Public Schools provides a nationally acclaimed education for students. Stakeholders recognize the Division’s academic excellence, with 83 percent of stakeholders agreeing FCPS provides a high-quality education.
Increases in disadvantaged and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) student populations have created greater demands on the resources of the Division. Stakeholders want greater consistency in programming and implementation across schools and clusters to provide all students with equal opportunities. Inequitable access to resources, such as technology, and the need to focus on eliminating the achievement gap are also frequently cited as areas for attention.
Stakeholders value educating the “whole child,” including the support of activities that build physical, mental, and social wellness. A balanced assessment framework is viewed as a way to decrease instructional emphasis on test preparation and increase instructional time available to prepare students socially, emotionally, and academically for success. The adoption of a Portrait of a Graduate, which identifies five characteristics necessary for students to be prepared for their futures, is aligned with stakeholders’ desire for the division to teach real-world skills and prepare students for both college and career success. It is the expectation that all students will graduate as excellent communicators; collaborators; creative, critical thinkers; global citizens; and goal-oriented, resilient learners.
The school environment and level of academic challenge have the greatest impact on student happiness with their school, as indicated by survey results.Students describe the school environment as competitive, leading to many students feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Teachers and students report the need for consistent implementation of disciplinary policy. Only 36 percent of students agree the social and emotional needs of FCPS students are being addressed, and 53 percent of students rate addressing mental health as a top priority.
Employees believe FCPS is a great place to work and recognize the Division’s efforts to provide adequate resources and professional development to support teaching and learning. Professional Learning Communities enhance teachers’ ability to collaborate and provide high-quality instruction. Teachers and principals describe the need for greater focus and better planning, follow through, and communication regarding initiatives. Only 45 percent of employees agree FCPS follows through with initiatives, and 43 percent agree FCPS effectively communicates plans for implementing initiatives. Forty-nine percent of stakeholders agree there is transparent communication from FCPS.
When asked to rank areas for priority, all stakeholder groups identify hiring and retaining quality teachers as their highest priority. Stakeholders are concerned about the increase in teacher turnover in recent years, as noted across focus groups and open-ended survey responses. Retention of quality educators is essential to build capacity that will benefit the Division’s students and schools.
Stakeholders are concerned about budget reductions that have led to the elimination of educational programming and employee positions. Several schools are in need of renovations or additions to meet enrollment and instructional needs. FCPS leaders have made efforts to shield classroom instruction and school-based expenditures when budgeting in an attempt to lessen the impact of any budgetary cuts.