Parent Advocacy Handbook: High School Grades 9-12

High School Grades (Ages 14 to 18)

High school is a time of academic and career choices for teens. They must decide whether to take regular, Honors, Academy, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. They must seriously begin investigating their options after high school. High school also is a time of increased involvement in extracurricular activities, whether it is a school club or activity, athletics, community service, or outside employment. It, therefore, is important for parents to have a basic understanding of these course options and where to go for assistance to help their teen make decisions.

High School - What is it all About?

  • The school day in most FCPS high schools begins between 8:00 and 8:10 a.m. and ends between 2:45 and 2:55 p.m. The school day includes time for classes in core subjects and electives, lunch, and embedded remediation and enrichment, which often is named using the school’s mascot as an identifier (e.g., “Jaguar Time”).
  • Most high school classes do not meet every day. Instead, they meet every other day in a block schedule that allows for longer instruction time on the days the specific class meets. Block schedules identify when classes meet by an Odd Day-Even Day schedule system-wide. Individual schools usually designate these days by their school colors. (Note: If you have students at more than one high school at the same time, pay attention to the Odd/Even designation and not the color, especially if their schools have the same color or colors.)
  • High school students take classes in English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Health (including Family Life Education and Drivers’ Education), and physical education, to meet the graduation requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, students may take elective courses in fine arts, career and technical education, and world language. Students choose high school courses in late winter/early spring before 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grades.
  • Academics are more rigorous in high school. High school students have various options for advanced study, including Advanced Placement courses; International Baccalaureate courses; and Dual Enrollment courses.
  • Many high school students participate in extra-curricular activities (e.g., school clubs and academic teams; sports teams; etc.) at school and in their communities. Many high school students also have paid employment outside of the school day. Organization and careful planning are essential skills for all high school students.
  • High school can be overwhelming to teens as they are faced with academic, social, and emotional challenges not experienced in middle school. Although the typical teenager increasingly holds their parents at arms-length to show their independence, this is a time for parents to be watchful and to discreetly be engaged in the personal and social life of the student. Parents, therefore, must learn how to provide guidance and assistance to their students as their teens take on increased independence and personal responsibility both in and outside of the school building.

High School - Who is in the Building?

Main Office

  • Principal
  • Assistant Principal
  • Office Staff


  • Classroom Teachers (By Subject Matter)
  • ESOL Teachers
  • SPED Teachers
  • Instructional Assistants

Student Support Staff

  • Director of Student Services
  • School Counselors
  • SOSA (System of Support Advisor)
  • College and Career Specialist
  • School Librarian
  • Director of Student Activities
  • School Health Aide
  • Parent Liaison
  • School Psychologist
  • Social Worker
  • Speech/Language Pathologist
  • Department Chair
  • Equity Lead Teacher

Other Staff

  • Cafeteria Staff
  • Custodial Staff
  • School Security Staff
  • SRO (Student Resource Officer)
  • SBTS (School Based Technology Specialist)

Be an Advocate

At Home

  • Talk to your child. Check in every day and ask them to tell you about their day. Sometimes it helps to ask them one thing that interested them during the day.
  • Help your teen develop consistent study habits during the early high school years by ensuring that homework assignments and special projects are completed on time. Check Course Information in FCPS 24-7 Learning: Parent View regularly. Make sure that the teacher is posting their syllabus and other materials so that not only the student can access but the parents can stay on top of this. This will be helpful prior to grades coming out so that you can make sure your child takes advantage of the teacher’s open hours to meet.
  • Help your child with planning and time management. Ask your teen how they keep track of class assignments. Many schools issue paper planners (or agendas) to their students. Does your teen use a planner (either a paper planner or a calendar app)?  Ensure that your student is developing strong study skills by checking that class assignments are entered into their planner and that all assignment have been completed.
  • Talk to your student about balancing academics and extracurricular activities. If your teen also has a job, after school and/or on weekends, discuss your expectations regarding work hours and giving priority to school work.
  • Help your student plan for homework. When will your student do their homework? (Same time every day or does it need to change because of after-school activities?) Where will your student do their homework? (Establish a clean space with no distractions, e.g., desk, table, community room, library.) How long for homework? (Know each teacher’s expectations for homework. What is minimum amount of time teacher expects be spent on homework?)
  • Do your parent homework! Mark important school dates and all school holidays in your personal calendar or planner. Keep a copy of your child’s schedule handy, so that you know who their teachers are, what period each class meets, and where each class is located. Some questions to ask yourself:  Do I know my school’s bell schedule? What are the school’s colors for odd and even day scheduling? (If you have children in different middle and high schools at the same time, the colors may not be the same.) 
  • At the beginning of every school year, discuss with your child FCPS’s Student Rights and Responsibilities. Students will talk about this important document in school but also need to hear from you about your expectations regarding their rights and their behavior in school. Speak with your child as well about your desire to be told about any social cruelty (teasing, bullying, etc.)
  • Monitor school and class attendance. Absences from school may be a sign that your student is losing interest in school, or is struggling with school work, or is dealing with conflicts or other social situations with classmates, or is simply tired or overwhelmed balancing academics, extracurricular activities, and other commitments. Speak with your high school staff if you need help.
  • Establish rules and boundaries for use of electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, and computers) early on in high school, and check in regularly with your child regarding screen time.  You may need to limit screen time (e.g., television, video games, and movies, etc.), especially during the school week. Continue to monitor and moderate your child’s use of social media (e.g., Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and any increased need to electronic communications.
  • Monitor your student’s progress report (report card). If your child is at risk of failing and not meeting the graduation requirements, you should meet with your child’s teacher and counselor to see that a focused remediation plan is established. If your child is struggling in a class, encourage them to get help (e.g., during their daily embedded remediation and enrichment period; after school through teacher meetings or peer tutoring; etc.).
  • Pay attention to graduation requirements. Know what the graduation requirements for your child. (If you have more than one student in high school, the graduation requirements may be slightly different.)  Monitor your child’s progress to make sure he or she is on track to graduate. Encourage your child to speak with his/her counselor to discuss their progress towards meeting graduation requirements. Schedule an appointment with the counselor for yourself if you have questions.
  • Encourage your child’s development of special interests and talents outside of school, including activities that include the child in social circles (e.g., with groups of friends and peers in non-academic activities, on outside sports teams, in activities at their personal place of worship, etc.). Your local community center, recreation center, library, house of worship, etc., may provide options.  
  • Discuss the importance of getting enough sleep at night (9 – 9 ½ hours per night, recommended) and starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Studies show that the majority of teenagers do not get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can contribute to an inability to concentrate, poor grades, anxiety, and depression. (If your child drives to school, and drives others to school, sleep is critical.)
  • Set expectations regarding social life. Do you have a curfew? Can your child ride with a student driver? Can your student driver give rides to others? What are your consequences if you find that your teen is using alcohol or drugs?

At School

  • Stay in touch with teachers and make sure that they are communicating with you about your child. This lets the teachers know that you care and will be involved as a parent. This communication may be by emails, phone conversations, and/or periodic face-to-face meetings. Let the teacher know your preferred method of communication.
  • If the teacher contacts you about your child – please respond to the teacher within 24 hours, if possible.
  • Work with your teen and your child’s school counselor to create an Academic and Career Plan, including successful course sequencing, for your student. Make sure that your child is on track to graduate.  If your child is college-bound, you want to make sure that your student takes the appropriate college preparation classes.
  • Hold regular meetings with your child’s Counselor and your student. Let the counselor know that you are going to be actively involved in insuring that your child has a successful high school experience. This communication can help to get the most out of the counselor, as well as keep you involved with the school so things do not slip. 
  • Take advantage of opportunities your school offers to learn more about planning for life beyond high school. Attend college planning programs, college fairs, etc. Learn about the various opportunities available to students who wish to pursue an apprenticeship or employment directly from high school.

High School Programs

All high schools provide the following services to students who require them:

  • Special Education. FCPS provides specialized services for students with disabilities.
  • ESOL Services. ESOL helps children who speak other languages learn to read and understand English so they can succeed in school.
  • Honors Classes. Honors classes offer additional academic rigor for high school students. They are open to all students who request them in Math, English, Science, and Social Studies.

In addition, high schools may offer the following academic programs and services.

  • Advanced Placement (AP): AP courses can provide college-level credit for work performed in high school. They are more advanced than regular high school courses in the same subjects. For college admissions, good performance on AP exams can help your child significantly. AP classes receive a weight of +1.0 when calculating grade point average.
    AP Students may be eligible to participate in AP Capstone, a diploma program based on two year-long AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. In the Capstone program, students study a variety of topics across multiple disciplines, and have the ability to choose topics that are of particular interest to them. Students work on mastering skills in critical thinking, research, and presentation.
  • International Baccalaureate Program (IB): The International Baccalaureate (IB) program, offers a rigorous academic curriculum for 11th and 12th grade students. Students can earn a full IB diploma that consists of external examinations in six subjects, participation in community service activities, and completion of a 4,000-word extended essay. Students who do not want to complete a full IB diploma may earn a separate IB certificate for each IB course completed. Any student enrolled in an IB course is required to take the end-of-course examination. IB classes receive a weight of +1.0 when calculating grade point average. IB is offered only at Annandale, Edison, Lee, Marshall, Mount Vernon, South Lakes, and Justice High Schools and Robinson Secondary School, but is open to all students through pupil placement. IB courses are recognized for advanced course placement or college credit by many universities in the United States.
  • International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IBMYP): High School students in grades 9 and 10 may participate in the IMMYP program, which “encourages students to embrace and understand connections between traditional subjects and the real world and become critical and reflective thinkers.” MYP is offered at four FCPS high schools. Students can earn an MYP Certificate at the end of 10th grade.
  • Dual Enrollment: Dual enrollment courses are courses offered to high school students (generally seniors) where they can earn high school and college credits at their high school. These college level courses are taught at their high school by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) faculty and students pay reduced tuition rates. Upon completion of dual enrollment courses, students may receive college credit.
  • Career & Technical Education (CTE) Programs:  Professional Technical Studies courses in the following areas are offered in the comprehensive high schools: business, industrial technology, marketing, trade and industrial, and work and family studies.
  • Academies: A high school academy is a center within an existing school that offers advanced technical and specialized courses that successfully integrate career and academic preparation. Six FCPS high schools have Academies. Courses in health occupations are available to all high school juniors and seniors at Chantilly, Edison, Falls Church, and West Potomac High Schools, and school bus transportation is provided. Programs for students with special interests are available at community-based locations and at single school sites. For further information, speak with your student’s school counselor or call the Office of Professional Technical Studies at (703) 208-7796.
  • College Success ProgramThe College Success Program prepares high school students for success in higher education. Some (but not all) of the programs are for students who will be the first in their family to attend college and who do not have the financial means to attend college without significant financial support. The four FCPS College Success Programs are:
    • Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID). AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. AVID is an elective course that teaches students study skills, and offers motivational activities and the opportunity to explore college and career options. AVID students learn how to navigate the college admissions process. They are given opportunities to visit college campuses and attend college information fairs with their AVID class, and may receive college application fee waivers and earn specialized scholarships. Students who wish to take AVID go through a screening process. For more information, contact the AVID coordinator at your high school.
    • College Partnership Program (CPP). CPP assists high school students from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education learn how to navigate the college admissions process through monthly, after-school sessions and workshops. Some middle schools offer the CPP’s College and Career Exploration Club (CCE) as an after-school program.
    • Early Identification Program (EIP). EIP is a cooperative program between George Mason University and FCPS that offers a multi-year college preparation program to students who will be the first in their families to attend college.
    • Pathway to the Baccalaureate/ Pathway Connection. The Pathway program is a cooperative program with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) that offers structured support for high school seniors as they transition to and through NOVA, and later transfer to George Mason University or another university that participates in the guaranteed admission program (where NOVA students who complete an associate degree are insured admission to a participating four-year college to complete their bachelor’s degree). Seniors must apply to, and be enrolled in, Pathway in the fall of 12th grade to participate in this program beyond high school.
      Pathway Connection is a related program for 10th and 11th grade students. A pilot program in FCPS is ongoing.
  • Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). JROTC offers courses that focus on academic preparation, citizenship, leadership, character development, and the scope and nature of a particular branch of U.S. military service. Students in grades 9-12 may participate in JROTC. The program is offered at some FCPS schools. Students who do not attend those schools also may enroll in JROTC through pupil placement. 

Resources for High School Parents

  • Parent-Teacher-Student Associations/Organizations. Many high schools have a PTSA/PTSO that includes students as members, to work with their schools to ensure students receive a high-quality education and the necessary supports to grow academically. Some PTSA/PTSO are run by parents and provide educational and financial assistance to schools. The PTSA/PTSO is a great resource for parents. You can learn a lot about what is going on at your high school through your PTSA/PTSO .
  • Booster Clubs. Many high school athletic and academic teams, and other extracurricular clubs, have Booster Clubs for parents to support their students in their extracurricular activities. Booster Clubs offer volunteers for school events, raise funds to support teams and clubs, and attend events and competitions to support their students.
  • Parent Resource CenterThe Parent Resource Center library offers parents and professional’s  books, journals, periodicals, and videos to assist them in better understanding children with special needs, family interaction, education, and roles and responsibilities in the special education process.  
  • College and Career Center: Every high school has a College and Career Center that offers current college and career resource materials. The College and Career Specialist can assist your student with investigating colleges and/or career and technical opportunities and training, financial aid/scholarships/grants. College and Career Specialists host college visits, military recruiters, and representatives from apprenticeship and training programs.
  • School Library/Media Center: Your school’s Library/Media Center can provide books, journals, periodicals and videos for your student. The School Library staff can assist students in doing research for their classes, offer suggestions of books for independent reading, and provide workshops and presentations on various subjects that may be of interest to your high school student. The library also has desktop computers available for students to use during the school day. In addition, the school librarian can help students borrow MiFi hotspot devices to use at home. 

 Common Questions

Who are some of the important people I should know at my child’s school?

There are many dedicated individuals at your child’s high school who are there to work with you and your child to insure student success. These individuals include administrative, instructional (classroom), and support staff. Make sure you know the names of each of these staff members, and how to contact them if necessary.

  • Principal. Every school has one principal who is the chief administrator and instructional leader.
  • Assistant Principals. Assistant principals in high school may be responsible for overseeing specific grade levels (as grade level administrator) and/or subject areas.
  • Teachers. Teachers are responsible for the day-to-day instruction of students. High schools have many more teachers than elementary schools, including:
  • Classroom Teachers: High School Teachers teach specific subject areas and may see your student every day in class or every other day, depending on class schedules.
  • Special Education Teachers. SPED teachers provide individual instruction or assistance for students with disabilities in and outside the general education classroom.
  • ESOL Teachers. ESOL teachers support students who speak other languages learn to read and understand English so they can succeed in school.
  • Equity Lead Teacher. The equity lead teacher works with the school principal to build relationships and foster a culturally responsive environment at school.
  • Director of Student Services. The Director of Student Services, or DSS, is a member of the school’s leadership team and oversees the student services (or guidance) department, including counselors, social worker, and psychologist.
  • High School Counselor. Counselors consult with parents, teachers, and other staff to help a student’s adjustment to school; collaborate with the student’s teachers to ensure academic and social-emotional progress; coordinates student services for children with special needs; advise students on college and career options; and, assist students and parents to identify special enrichment and support programs to help with academic work. Counselors also write the Counselor Recommendation letter for college applications. Every high school student is assigned to a specific counselor. (If you have two, or more, children in the same school, they may have different counselors.) Make sure you know who your child’s counselor is and how to contact him or her.
  • Social Worker/Psychologist. School social workers provide services to address the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students. School psychologists provide family-school collaboration services to help families navigate educational and community systems to support students to address academic, mental health, and behavioral needs.
  • School Librarian: Every high school has its own library that provides special programs and workshops for students and loans books to its students. The school Librarian is another instructional leader in your child’s school, and can assist high school students in learning how to do research, how to use source materials, and how to find books and reading material of interest to the student. The librarian can help students with access to technology to use at home.
  • System of Support Advisor (SOSA). The SOSA provides the school team monitor students’ academics, behavior, and wellness, through a multi-tiered system of support framework. The role that a SOSA plays is determined by the principal. Some SOSAs, for example, monitor school attendance, while others coordinate SOL testing.
  • College and Career Specialist. The CC Specialist provides students and parents with resources on college and career options and assists students in navigating the college admissions process.
  • Director of Student Activities. The DSA oversees student extracurricular activities at school, including athletics and after-school clubs and activities. The DSA also oversees building use.
  • Office Assistants/Administrative Assistants. School office assistants take care of scheduling appointments, greeting visitors, and communicating with school staff. If you have questions about registration, bus schedules, school lunches, immunization, or attendance, call the Main Office. Remember they are busiest at the start and end of each day.
  • Student Information Assistant (SIA). The SIA serves as Registrar for the high school and oversees student records. The SIA is responsible for maintaining high school transcripts, and providing them to colleges, employers, etc. upon a student’s request.
  • Instructional Assistants.   Classroom assistants help teachers and students in large classes.
  • Parent Liaisons (PL). Most (but not all) schools have parent liaisons who work with parents and teachers to help your child. They are usually local parents and speak the predominant language of your community.  If your school does not have a PL, and you feel one is needed, start with the principal.
  • School Health Aide. The School Health Aide provides oversees the School Health Room (often called the “clinic”).
  • School Based Technology Specialist (SBTS). The SBTS provides technical training and tech support to schools and school staff. Your SBTS may be able to assist you if you are having difficulty gaining access to school technology resources for parents.
  • School Security Staff. High schools have several staff member (depending on overall school size) who oversees safety and security in the school building. The school Security Office also oversees parking for staff, students, and visitors.
  • Student Resource Officer (SRO).  The SRO is a uniformed member of the Fairfax County Police Department, who is assigned to the high school. 

What classes does my child take in high school?

High school students take classes in English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Health & Physical Education. They also may take courses in World Languages; Fine Arts; and Career and Technical Education. In addition, all high school students are required to take an Economics and Personal Finance class to earn their high school diploma.

The basic sequencing for core courses (other than math) in high school appear below. Not all students follow this sequencing, or order. Speak with your child’s counselor for more information on course selection.

  Grade Nine Grade Ten Grade Eleven Grade Twelve
English English 9* English 10* English 11* or AP English Language English 12* or AP English Literature 
Science Biology* Chemistry Physics* or
AP Physics 1, Active Physics, or
Geosystems* or
AP Environmental Science
Choice of:
Human Anatomy
AP Environmental
AP Chemistry
AP Biology
AP Physics
Social Studies World History & Geography 1* World History & Geography 2* or AP World History US & VA History* or
AP US History
US & VA Government* or
AP US Government or
AP US & Comparative Government

*indicates that course also is offered as an Honors class.

NOTE: IB students take IB English SL or HL and IB History of Americas in grade 11 and IB English 2 HL or SL and IB Topics in grade 12.

The basic math sequence available for high school mathematics in FCPS is as follows:

High School Math Sequence
Year 1 Algebra 1 or Algebra 1 Honors
Year 2 Geometry or Geometry Honors
Year 3 Algebra 2 or Algebra 2 Honors
Year 4 Pre-Calculus
Year 5 Advanced Placement Calculus (AB/BC)
Year 6 Multi-Variable Calculus

IB students may take IB Math SL or HL courses for some of these math classes.

Most students take Math through Algebra 2. Some students may begin this math sequence in middle school.

How are students evaluated and graded in high school?

High school teachers may use a combination of various tools to measure your child’s progress in the subject matter of their class offering, including:

  • Teacher-made quizzes, tests, and examinations
  • In-class assignments and exercises
  • Classroom participation
  • Homework assignments
  • Special projects

According to Grading Assignments and Assessments, “Teachers are expected to grade each assignment and post grades to the electronic gradebook within seven school days after the due date with the understanding that major projects/papers may require additional time to ensure quality feedback.”

Progress reports (Report Cards) are sent home four times a year (you must sign and return the progress reports).  High School students may receive an alphabetical grade ranging from A through F.

Grade 4.0 scale 100 Point Scale Definition
A 3.8-4.0 93-100 Designates the status of a student who consistently demonstrates accurate and complete knowledge of content and skills specified in the FCPS Program of Studies (POS) and applies that knowledge to solve problems in a variety of settings.
A- 3.4-3.7 90-92
B+ 3.1-3.3 87-89 Designates the status of a student who demonstrates knowledge of content and skills specified in the FCPS POS, with some improvement needed in accuracy and/or consistency in performance, applying that knowledge to solve problems in a variety of settings.
B 2.8-3.0 83-86
B- 2.4-2.7 80-82
C+ 2.1-2.3 77-79 Designates the status of a student who demonstrates knowledge of basic content and skills specified in the FCPS POS, but requires additional practice and instructional experiences to acquire skills necessary to solve problems.
C 1.8-2.0 73-76
C- 1.4-1.7 70-72
D+ 1.1-1.3 67-69 Designates the status of a student who needs significant practice and instructional experiences to acquire the knowledge of basic content and skills specified in the FCPS POS necessary to solve problems. As a final mark, it is not necessarily sufficient to meet the prerequisite requirements
D 0.8-1.0 64-66
F 0-0.7 Below 64 Designates the status of a student who has not demonstrated the basic knowledge of content and/or skills specified in the FCPS POS and requires additional practice and instructional experiences in order to succeed.

High School students also may receive a mark of:

  • Incomplete (I) - when, for example, a student has excused absences and are unable to complete assignments during the marking period but will complete assignments.
  • No Mark (NM) - when, for example, a student has been diagnosed with a medical issue which prevents them from completing work or there are other circumstances in which prolonged absences hinder a student’s ability to complete work.
  • Pass-Fail (P or F) - when a high school student chooses to take one elective credit per year to be marked pass-fail. See Regulation 2436.
  • Audit (T) - In special circumstances, high school students may be allowed to attend one course without receiving credit for it.
  • Withdraw, Pass-Withdraw, Fail (W/P or W/F) – when a student drops a high school course. See Regulation 2445.


What is GPA, and why is it important?

GPA, or Grade Point Average, is a calculation that results in the average, or mean, for all final high school grades. GPA is one indicator that colleges and universities may use when evaluating applicants for admission. GPA also may be used to determine various honors and awards given at high school graduation. 

The 4.0 Scale in the table above determines the weight to be given each grade to determine a high school.  Students who take Honors classes, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes receive an additional .5 to 1.0 for each course when determining GPA.


Can my child enroll in a program at another high school?

Yes. If your base high school does not offer a desired program of study, your student may apply to attend another high school that offers the program or desired course sequence. Students request such placement for sequential curricular programs (IB vs. AP), world languages (where a language is not offered at the base school), and academy sequences. You may request the school with the desired program that is closest to your residence that is open to student transfers.

Students on request also may take a single course at another school if their base school does not offer the desired class (e.g., academy courses; advanced math or language classes; JROTC).  Be aware that the student loses an additional elective scheduling block for travel to the other school, and may need to take a summer school or online course to meet all graduation requirements.

Transportation is provided for students enrolled in academy programs and JROTC.

Can my child take college classes for credit?

FCPS offers many dual enrollment options for students at select high schools and high school academies. Students who complete these courses may receive college credit in addition to high school credit upon successful completion.

Students may take English 12 as a dual enrollment course with English 111 and English 112 at NOVA. Students also may take select courses in math, science, social studies, and fine arts as dual enrollment courses with NOVA, George Mason University, James Madison University, and Shenandoah University. 

FCPS students also may take college classes through NOVA in various Career and Technology areas, such as: CTE: Business and Information Technology (e.g.,  Cyber: Cisco 1A & 1B; 2A & 2B; Computer systems technology, network administration); CTE Family and Consumer Sciences (e.g., Culinary arts; early childhood education; teacher for tomorrow); CTE: Health and Medical Sciences (e.g., EMT, physical/occupational therapy); CTE: Marketing (e.g., entrepreneurship); CTE: Technical and Engineering Education (e.g., architectural drawing; engineering drawing; CTE: Trade and Industrial (e.g., auto collision services; criminal justice; HVAC ).

In dual enrollment courses, grades are awarded based on the FCPS grading scale, however, the college grades will not carry a plus or minus (e.g., no A+ or B-). Dual enrollment courses receive a weight of +1.0 when calculating GPA. For information on specific course weighted credit, see the course catalog.


Can my child take online classes?

The FCPS Online Campus allows students to enroll in up to two credits as part of their standard high school credits without fees. If students wish to take an online course as an eighth credit, there is a fee.

Online courses are identical in content to those offered in a traditional classroom. They align with the SOL and FCPS Program of Study.

Online classes are a good option for students who start a course after it has begun, have scheduling conflicts, personal reasons (e.g., health). Speak with your school counselor for more information.

What are the high school graduation requirements?

Graduation requirements are set by state law. In Virginia, students must take a minimum number of credits to earn a standard diploma (for example, students who enter 9th grade in 2018-2019, must earn 22 standard credits). Some of these credits must be verified credits, i.e., the student must pass both the course and the end-of-course SOL test for that course. Students with disabilities may use credit accommodations to earn a standard diploma. The minimum requirements for graduation include courses in the following:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Laboratory Sciences [Update re: science SOL req. changes]
  • History and Social Sciences
  • Health and Physical Education
  • World Language, Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education
  • Economics and Personal Finance
  • Electives

Students who take additional classes may qualify for an advanced diploma.

Be aware that the Commonwealth of Virginia often changes its graduation requirements. If you have more than one child in high school at the same time, those students may not have the same graduation requirements. Speak with your student’s counselor for more information about graduation requirements.

If you are a military family, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Families governs how course waivers, verified credits, and transfers in senior year are handled for dependents of military enlistees.


Are there testing requirements for high school graduation?

Students must pass Standards of Learning (SOL) tests to earn verified credits required for graduation. Since your student will need verified credits based on when they enter high school, not all students take the same tests.

In addition, some students have a graduation requirement of a “student-selected” test. Parents and students may give input into which SOL test(s) they may attempt to earn their verified credit.

When your student has earned all of their verified credits, they are not permitted to take additional SOL tests, unless you as a parent “opt in” for such testing.

My student needs help getting organized. Are there courses that can help?

FCPS offers several elective courses that can help high school students develop executive functioning skills.

  • Strategies for Success: Strategies for Success is an elective course for students who need help on assignments in their core courses. It provides instruction in learning strategies, study skills, time management, organization, and self-advocacy skills.
  • AVID: AVID is an elective course that teaches students study skills, and offers motivational activities and the opportunity to explore college and career options. AVID students learn strategies for organization, planning and time management, and effective notetaking.

Speak with your student’s counselor for more information or assistance.

My child has failed (F) a high school course. What do we do?

Speak with your child’s counselor about credit recovery.  The Credit Recovery Academy provides an opportunity to recover one high school course credit. (Students may not take these courses for new course credit.) Students are eligible to enroll in a Credit Recovery course if they have previously received a grade of F. However, students who have passed Algebra 1 may take the Credit Recovery Academy to improve their understanding and skills before the next school year. No additional course credit will be awarded to these students.

A failing grade should not come as a complete surprise, as teachers are required to provide quarterly grades every nine weeks. Parents can get up-to-date information about your student’s grades through the SIS Parent Account. Monitor your account regularly.

What is Naviance Student (formerly Family Connection)? How do parents use it?

Naviance Student (formerly called Family Connection in FCPS) supports academic and career planning for middle and high school students. Naviance Student supports students in creating their Academic and Career Plan, which is designed to develop their post-secondary (after high school) plans. Students also can track service learning opportunities through x2VOL, accessed through Naviance. Many different resources are available for students through Naviance Student.

Naviance Student is part of the FCPS 24-7 Learning: Parent View. High School and Middle School parents with an active SIS Parent Account can access Naviance Student by clicking on the link for their child.  The same log in credentials for SIS will also work for FCPS 24-7 Learning: Parent View.

What can my high school student do during the summer? Is there summer school?

Summer time offers many opportunities for high school students. Students who have failed a course and need to recover a high school credit have an opportunity to do so through the FCPS Credit Recovery Academy.  Students who wish to get ahead in a subject area or take a course required for graduation that is difficult to fit into their school year schedule also may do so through the FCPS Online Campus over the summer.

There are many summer enrichment programs available throughout the area for high school students interested in pursuing their passions or new interests. High school students also may use the summer for internships or paid employment. Your school’s Department of Student Services and College and Career Center can provide more information on these opportunities. Encourage your student to use these school resources to identify summer opportunities they might find interesting.

  • Summer Reading: Encourage your high school student to read over the summer, and to pay attention to any summer reading requirements their school may have for all students and/or any required reading teachers may have for some subjects or classes.
  • FCPS Summer Programs: FCPS operates various summer programs for high school students looking for academic support or enrichment. These programs include:
    • Credit Recovery Academy (Grades 7-12) students may recover one high school course credit through this online summer program. Speak with your child’s counselor about this program.