Academic Matters at School Board Meetings

A portion of School Board meetings is used to provide updates on important academic topics

Academic Matters is a segment during which updates on important academic topics are presented at School Board meeting. The segment was first introduced on Thursday, November 3, 2022. Below are the topics covered to date. 

Applying Math Concepts in Real World

March 21, 2024

During the Academic Matters segment of the March 21 School Board meeting, Dr. Reid shared how FCPS is strengthening numeracy — the ability to apply math concepts in the real world — in primary grades.

FCPS has been investing in professional development through Add+Vantage Math Recovery © (AVMR), and teachers are using a scripted intervention curriculum to support numeracy instruction. Each FCPS elementary school has at least one AVMR-trained teacher, who:

  • Is trained to help students build flexibility with foundational numeracy.

  • Observes student behaviors to make instructional decisions.

  • Provides instruction that is targeted at the edge of the child's current knowledge; accelerating their learning. 

Our younger students in AVMR get to use different things like blocks and toys to understand math in the real world. They also learn by asking questions, practicing math, and talking about the many ways to solve problems

See students demonstrating their numeracyWatch Dr. Reid’s presentation or view her slides

Literacy Development for Multilingual Learners

March 7, 2024

In the Academic Matters segment of last week’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid shared information on literacy development of multilingual learners (students who are learning the English language). Of the more than 180,000 FCPS students, over 48% have a home language other than English, and 20% are multilingual learners (as of January 2024). 

Dr. Reid emphasized that the school division’s Equitable Access to Literacy Plan applies to ALL students, including multilingual learners. She shared some of the supports that exist for these students, including new elementary language arts basal resources. View presentation slides to learn more. 

STEAM and Computer Science

February 22, 2024

In the Academic Matters segment of last week’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid addressed how STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) and computer science are building the foundation for our students’ future careers. Access to STEAM and computer science is part of Goal 4 of the 2023-30 Strategic Plan. View the presentation slides to learn more. 

National School Counseling Week

February 8, 2024

During the Academic Matters segment of the School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid recognized National School Counseling Week. School Counselors are vital to supporting our students in terms of academics, college and career aspirations, social-emotional wellness, and more. Their roles are also in direct support of each of the five goals of our 2023-20 Strategic Plan, as you can see below. 

  1. Strong Start: Pre-K-12  - Support relationship-building, managing transitions and building academic, social, and emotional skills that contribute to being ready to learn. 
  2. Safe, Supported, Included, & Empowered - Contribute to the creation of a school culture where students and families are engaged, students attend regularly, students participate in meaningful extracurricular activities, and discipline disproportionality is reduced. 
  3. Academic Growth and Excellence - Encourage student mindsets with a positive attitude towards learning, self-confidence in one’s ability to succeed, belief in the ability to achieve high-quality results and outcomes, and removing barriers. 
  4. Equitable Access and Opportunity - Advocate for every student to access high-quality and rigorous programs (K-12) and utilize the MTSS framework to identify students in need of support and intervention. 
  5. Leading for Tomorrow’s Innovation - Prepare students for a wide range of career pathways, starting in elementary school, through academic and career exploration and planning.

View the slide presentation

Academic Advising and Advanced Coursework Selection 

January 25, 2024

During the Academic Matters segment of the School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid presented information on FCPS’ academic advising and advanced coursework selection. Advanced coursework is one focus of the 2023-30 Strategic Plan’s Goal 3, Academic Growth and Excellence. We have an abundance of advanced coursework options available through open enrollment for our middle and high school students:

  • Each middle school offers numerous Honors level courses across content areas 
  • Each high school offers Advanced Placement (AP)  International Baccalaureate (IB), and/or Dual Enrollment (DE) courses 
  • FCPS practices open enrollment making advanced course options accessible to all students

Beyond empowering students to pursue their personal interests, exposure to rigorous and college-level coursework through AP, IB, and/or DE participation is correlated with increased high school and college graduation rates and enables students to earn college credits while still in high school. As you can see below, we continue to invest in removing the roadblocks between our students and their opportunities for advanced coursework. 

Investing in College-Level Opportunities 

FCPS invests in opportunities for our high school students to experience rigorous, college-level coursework and exams.

  • The first six AP and IB exams are funded for any student enrolled in an AP/IB course. 
  • Students who receive Free and Reduced Meals do not pay AP/IB Exam fees for any additional exams beyond the first six. 
  • FCPS Dual Enrollment (DE) courses, available in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), are available at no cost to FCPS students 

Graduation and Dropout Rates

January 11, 2024

During the Academic Matters segment of the School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid shared the latest data on graduation and dropout rates.

For both graduation and dropout cases, she presented five-year trends from 2019 (pre pandemic) until 2023. 

Graduation Rates

The five-year, on-time graduation trends are consistently above state outcomes. Our rates have also improved more than two percentage points since 2019, compared to Virginia’s improvement of less than .5 percentage point. Looking at specific demographic groups, Hispanic students saw the greatest five-year increase in graduation rates. We are also pleased to see that central supports put in place for nine of our high schools resulted in 2.2 times stronger gains in graduation rates compared to Fairfax high schools not identified for additional supports. It is important to measure what matters to validate that we are putting energy behind programs that work, and we are glad to see these efforts have proved to be successful.

Graduation Rates: Five-year trends for Fairfax and Virginia

  • Fairfax graduation rates show consistent performance above statewide outcomes for the past four years.
  • FCPS graduation rates have improved more than 2 percentage points since 2019, compared to Virginia’s improvement of less than 0.5 percentage point.
  • Slightly lower rates since 2021 result from the loss of statewide graduation flexibility, originally introduced during the pandemic.

FCPS graduation rates - details in accordion below chart

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) reported graduation rates in the graphic above as of September 7, 2023.

Data from "FCPS On-time Graduation Rates" graphic (above) in accessible format

2019

  • 91.3% - FCPS on-time graduation rate
  • 91.5% - Virginia on-time graduation rate

2020

  • 93% - FCPS on-time graduation rate
  • 92.5% - Virginia on-time graduation rate

2021

  • 94.6% - FCPS on-time graduation rate
  • 93% - Virginia on-time graduation rate

2022

  • 94% - FCPS on-time graduation rate
  • 92.2% - Virginia on-time graduation rate

2023

  • 93.4% - FCPS on-time graduation rate
  • 91.9% - Virginia on-time graduation rate

Dropout Rates

Dropout rates look at students who did not successfully earn a diploma, GED, certificate of completion, or did not remain enrolled. We have significantly reduced our dropout rates over the five-year trend from 7.3 to 5.5 and now we are closely aligned with statewide rates. Our goal is always zero, and we will continue to work on this measure. 

Dropout Rates: Five-year trends for Fairfax and Virginia

  • Although FCPS is outperforming the state on graduation outcomes, FCPS dropout rates have been higher than statewide levels for each of the past five years except 2022.
  • FCPS can celebrate a significant reduction in dropout rates over the past five years of nearly 2 percentage points.
  • As with graduation rates, loss of pandemic flexibility has impacted some students contributing to higher dropout rates. 
FCPS Dropout Rates. Detail in accordion below graphic.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) reported dropout rates in the graphic above as of September 7, 2023.

Data from "FCPS Dropout Rates" graphic (above) in accessible format

2019

  • 7.3% - FCPS dropout rate
  • 5.5% - Virginia dropout rate

2020

  • 6.2% - FCPS dropout rate
  • 5.1% - Virginia dropout rate

2021

  • 4.7% - FCPS dropout rate
  • 4.3% - Virginia dropout rate

2022

  • 4.8% - FCPS dropout rate
  • 5.2% - Virginia dropout rate

2023

  • 5.5% - FCPS dropout rate
  • 5.4% - Virginia dropout rate

Fairfax County Youth Survey

December 4, 2023

During the Academic Matters segment of the School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid presented findings of the Fairfax County Youth Survey. The survey provides insights into the behaviors and attitudes that affect the health and well-being of Fairfax County youth. 

Most Fairfax County students reported they feel safe at their school. Overall, the percentage of students who reported risky behaviors continued to decrease in many areas including substance use, sexual activity, and aggressive and delinquent behavior. 

Mental health indicators including feelings of sadness/hopelessness, suicidal ideations, and suicide attempts also improved noticeably compared to 2021. Students who reported the recommended amount of physical activity increased compared to the prior year as well. 

Read more about the report’s findings, and view the full report on the county’s website.

Protective Factors Support Healthy Habits and Positive Choices

Survey data shows that students with at least three protective factors have a lower likelihood of reporting mental health challenges and engaging in a variety of risky behaviors, including substance and opioid abuse. Protective factors are individual, family-based, school-based, and community-based assets (such as participating in extracurricular activities, having parents available for help, or having teachers recognize good work) that support healthy habits and positive choices. 

Student Attendance and Engagement

November 9, 2023

During the Academic Matters segment of the School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid discussed student attendance and engagement. Attendance and absenteeism rates are one measure of Goal 2 of our Strategic Plan

Chronic absenteeism — which is defined as a student missing 10% or more of school for any reason — is a concern across Virginia school districts. Although FCPS continues to outperform the state average in attendance rates, we are tracking chronic absenteeism closely and stressing the importance of attendance to students and parents while providing a multi-tiered system of intervention.

Attendance is critical for academic success. Data shows that:

  • Missing just 10% of school — just two days a month — negatively affects a student’s academic performance. 
  • Only 17% of students who were chronically absent in both kindergarten and first grade were reading proficiently in third grade, compared to 64% of those with good attendance.
  • Students who fail to read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely than students who achieve proficiency to drop out of high school.
  • By sixth grade, chronic absenteeism becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.

FCPS Pass Rates and Accreditation Outcomes

October 26, 2023

Dr. Reid discussed FCPS’ annual pass rates and accreditation outcomes, stating that we’re seeing a return to baseline levels in pass rates at FCPS. Post-pandemic assessment growth has leveled off. 

Reading, mathematics, and science pass rates for FCPS are up by an average of almost 9% since the 2021-22 school year. FCPS’ annual pass rates on state assessments continue to be higher than the state average by an average of 5%. 

The Virginia Board of Education’s accreditation ratings are based on six-to-nine school quality indicators. These include state assessment results and achievement gaps; graduation and dropout rates; and participation in college/career readiness programs. 

For the 2023 accreditation ratings, 99.5% of Fairfax County public schools are accredited (compared to the state average of 89%). The remaining 0.5% are accredited with conditions.

Watch Dr. Reid's presentation on YouTube or view the slides.

SAT Outcomes

October 12, 2023

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid shared SAT outcomes and opportunities for FCPS students.

As in years past, the FCPS class of 2023 average score of 1181 was higher than the state average (1113) and the global average (1028). The percentage of FCPS seniors taking the SAT has also remained consistent, despite the sharp decrease in participation statewide.

Watch Dr. Reid's presentation on YouTube or view the slides.

Reading by Third Grade

September 29, 2023

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid provided information about the division-wide goal of reading by third grade, which is part of Goal 3 of the strategic plan. A video about the literacy program at Woodlawn Elementary School was presented. The school's science-based approach to literacy is hugely impactful — not just on the students’ reading skills and assessment scores, but on their confidence and their enjoyment of reading.

Watch the presentation.

FCPS’ COVID-19 Compensatory Education Plan

September 14, 2023

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid provided an update on the school division’s actions regarding FCPS’ COVID-19 Compensatory Education Plan. As a reminder, the plan was created to support the needs of students with disabilities whose learning was impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Since last December, FCPS has held more than 30,000 individualized education plan (IEP) and Section 504 meetings with families and provided more than 27,000 compensatory service hours to students. Through the compensatory meeting process, the school division has allocated more than $5.5 million in reimbursements to families for private services. 

FCPS Enrolled Students

  • 30,656 Complete - IEP team held meeting and determined outcomes
  • 427 Incomplete - Ongoing conversations or in-process documents
  • 621 - Not Started - Continuing to reach out to families

Grand Total: 31,704, 96.7% complete

As our Compensatory Education Plan winds down, we’ll be continuing to engage families to schedule outstanding meetings and address outstanding reimbursement requests. 

For more updates, please watch Dr. Reid’s presentation on YouTube or view the slides.

2023 Summer Programming

August 31, 2023

At the August 31 School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid presented data from learning programs that took place during the summer. 

Nearly 34,000 students participated in 23 programs at 87 sites across the county. They included Extended School Year, High School Credit Recovery, Institute for the Arts, Career and Technical Education summer camps, and others. 

Image is titled "Summer 2023 Program by the Numbers"
Watch the presentation or view the slides.

Data from "Summer 2023 Program by the Numbers" image in accessible format

The image is titled ""Summer 2023 Program by the Numbers." The numbers are as follows:

  • Number of students: 33,398
  • Number of staff: 3,826
  • Number of programs: 23
  • Number of sites: 87

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program

July 13, 2023

During the board meeting, Dr. Reid shared plans to grow the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program throughout FCPS. AVID is a college and career readiness program, which will be added to five of our schools this year. This will bring the total number of FCPS elementary and secondary schools offering this important program to 35! AVID directly supports the work of our Portrait of a Graduate (POG) program and its continued expansion throughout FCPS will help prepare each and every one of our students for their futures in an interconnected world  -- the future yet to be imagined.

graph is entitled “Avid Students Outperform Their Peers.”

As you can see in the chart above for the 2021-22 school year, AVID participation has a proven track record of success in FCPS. Averaging across all of the categories, about 76% of AVID students participated in AP/IB/DE courses, compared to 43% of their peers.

Data from “Avid Students Outperform Their Peers” graph in accessible format

The graph is entitled “Avid Students Outperform Their Peers.” The graph shows participation of AVID vs Non-AVID students in Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) , and Dual Enrollment (DE) during 2021-22. (Note: Dual Enrollment allows high school students to take college-level classes. 

The graph numbers are as follows: 

  • Black students - for those in the AVID program,  80% participated in AP/IB/DE vs. only 60% for non-AVID students
  • Hispanic students -  for those in the AVID program, approximately 85% participated in AP/IB/DE vs. only approximately 50% for non-AVID students
  • English Learner students - for those in the AVID program, approximately 78% participated in AP/IB/DE vs. only approximately 17% for non-AVID students
  • Free and Reduced Meals students -  for those in the AVID program, approximately 85% participated in AP/IB/DE vs. only approximately 50% for non-AVID students
  • Students with Disabilities - for those in the AVID program, approximately 58% participated in AP/IB/DE vs. only approximately 30% for non-AVID students 

Two highlighted facts are presented:

  • 84% is the percentage of AVID 8th graders who took at least one honors course
  • 85% is the percentage of AVID 12th graders who took at least one AP/IB/DE  

Special Education Enhancement Plan

June 26, 2023

Dr. Reid shared information about the community-guided and data-backed Special Education Enhancement Plan. The Special Education Enhancement Plan goal is to improve outcomes for students with IEPs and 504s, celebrate their diversity, and foster their strengths in their least restrictive environment so they can thrive today, tomorrow, and in the future. This five-year plan guides the work to improve outcomes and to engage students with IEPs and Section 504 Plans in rigorous learning in the least restrictive environment. The plan outlines supports and structures to build staff capacity and increase staff retention. We want to ensure that we continue to have the best educators to support our diverse student population. Finally, there are actions to improve communication and partnership with our families. Effective home and school partnerships are vital to student success.

Celebrating Student Successes Across the Content Areas

June 15, 2023

Dr. Reid presented a roundup of the many FCPS student successes across all content areas including:

  • Science and Engineering
  • Career and Technical Student Organizations
  • Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
  • Theatre Arts & Dance
  • Music and Performing Ensembles
  • And much more!

VDOE Student Assessment

May 25, 2023

As part of a state data initiative, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recently developed a new data reporting tool intended to provide valuable information for parents and educators regarding student progress on required state assessments. All Virginia scchool divisions will be distributing a report to parents, called the Student Assessment Summary Report, which will provide a summary of each student’s state SOL assessment history. Learn more about the Student Assessment Summary Report.

Testing

May 11, 2023

Dr. Reid reported on Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), PSAT, and SAT testing. Students who enroll in AP and IB courses are more likely to graduate high school on time, enroll in college at higher rates and save time and money while in college. Data was shared about the number of students  participating in these offerings. AP exams mean scores have increased since 2021 in passing rates and number of students participating. 

AP testing scores

Data from Advanced Placement (AP) Exams chart in accessible format

Performance in the AP programs rebounded after the pandemic. Exam numbers, mean scores, and percent passing increased between 2021-2022.

2019

  • Number of exams - 37,234
  • Mean score - 3.47
  • % passing - 77%

2020

  • Number of exams - 36,080
  • Mean score - 3.4
  • % passing - 75%

2021

  • Number of exams - 33,483
  • Mean score - 3.17
  • % passing - 68%

2022

  • Number of exams - 35,223
  • Mean score - 3.32
  • % passing - 72%

AP exams are scored on a scale of 1-5, with a score of 3 considered passing. 

The number of participants in IB exams have also increased since 2021. FCPS invests in these opportunities to allow students to experience rigorous, college level exams. The first six AP and IB exams are funded for any student enrolled in an AP/IB course. This year, the PSAT testing that is done during school on October 11, will be digital for the first time. FCPS reaches out to parents of rising 10-12 graders to ensure that they have time and understand the process to apply for accommodations soon.

Watch the presentation or view the presentation slides.

Teletherapy Services

April 27, 2023

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid presented about the partnership between FCPS and Hazel Health to offer teletherapy to high school students at no cost. 

Hazel’s therapists can help students address the following:

  • Mood/behavior changes, motivation, grief/loss
  • Anxiety, worry, fears
  • Social skills, bullying, peer & family relationships
  • Academic stress

“Hazel Health has been surprisingly user-friendly for both staff and families,” says Sara Brewer, a school counselor at West Potomac High School. “We were skeptical that it sounded too good to be true, as it offers services for ALL families (including those that need language support for intake services). We were pleasantly surprised that our first referral was processed within THREE days because the family was so responsive and appreciative.” 

How to Access Hazel Health Teletherapy Services

In order for high schoolers to participate in teletherapy services, caregivers must complete three steps:

  1. Give Permission for FCPS to share basic demographic information with Hazel in ParentVue
  2. Consent for Hazel Mental Health services on the Hazel Health FCPS website
  3. Students must be referred to therapy by a guardian or designated school staff member. You can refer your child by calling 571-749-2940 or by contacting an FCPS school counselor, social worker, psychologist, or director of student services. 

Visit the FCPS Teletherapy website for more information.

Science Traditions

April 13, 2023

At the latest School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid highlighted science traditions in Fairfax County Public Schools, including the regional science fair, which has taken place for 68 years. 

Family-Facing Curriculum

March 30, 2023

At the March 30 School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid presented updates to curriculum overview now available on the FCPS website during the Academic Matters segment. Parents/caregivers can see what their students are learning in their core classes by grade level. We hope this information will allow us to better partner with parents and caregivers to support academic success. 

As stated on each grade level and course page, the objectives and outcomes for each unit are common across FCPS and based on the Virginia Standards of Learning. The pacing provides an example of how the curriculum can be organized throughout the year. Teacher teams may adjust the pacing or order of units to best meet the needs of students.

Information will be updated at the start of each school year. 

Learn more about family-facing curriculum.  

Work-Based Learning Experiences

March 9, 2023

Superintendent Reid shared information on work-based learning experiences for students that help develop career readiness. Work-based learning might include guest speakers, work-based tours, college and career fairs, job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeships. Learn more about work-based learning. Learn more about Career and Technical Education (CTE).

Early Childhood Education and STEAM

February 23, 2023

During a presentation on Early Childhood Education, Superintendent Reid talked about how STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) and Computer Science learning is advancing our youngest students. 

With STEAM. students are: 

  • Problem solving through play-based learning
  • Building a foundation of critical thinking and collaboration skills
  • Advancing language development and content learning
  • Creating original designs and solutions
  • Imagining themselves as innovators in the careers of the future

With Computer Science (CS), students are: 

  • Developing problem solving skills as students as they:
    • Explore, design, test, & improve (Engineering practices)
    • Break apart complex problems, look for patterns, simplify, and sequence (CS practices) 
    • Use code to program and control robots (CS practices)
  • Fostering curiosity, interest, and self-efficacy in CS

Dr. Reid also showed a video about the PreK environment and STEAM.

School-Based Mental Health Services Grant

February 9, 2023

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid presented information on a recent U.S. Department of Education five year, $13.5 million grant awarded to FCPS to support a School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) Services project. The goal of the project is to increase school mental health services through the recruiting, hiring and retaining of school-based counselors, psychologists, and social workers. The additional staff will enhance the ability to:

  • Provide prevention and early intervention services,
  • Increase student access to school-based mental and hehavioral health services,
  • Provide targeted and timely mental health consultation to families and teachers, and 
  • Reduce caseloads and ensure greater attention to student needs.

Watch the presentation

Equitable Access to Literacy

January 26, 2023 

In 2021, the School Board committed to change the approach to literacy in Fairfax County. The FCPS instructional team developed a five-year plan that outlines the school division's efforts to align practices with science-based reading research. The research provides an understanding of how students learn to read and what professional learning is necessary for teachers. During the School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid offered a presentation about the Equitable Access to Literacy plan and major milestones that have been made since 2021.

Additional information: FCPS video "Every Student Has the Right to Learn to Read" and the Equitable Access to Literacy (EAL) Plan webpage

Virginia Growth Assessments

January 12, 2023 

During the Academic Matters segment, Dr. Reid shared updates on the Virginia Growth Assessments (VGA). In 2021, legislation was passed in Virginia requiring schools to perform content standards testing in the fall and winter. Dr. Reid reflected that there are opportunities for improvement in the timeliness of the information being shared with schools between the two assessment windows. 

Families will receive fall and winter math and reading results together in the next eight weeks. FCPS’ fall results indicate that the school division is outperforming other Virginia districts in every area, in every grade level.

COVID Relief Spending

December 15, 2022 

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid presented on how ESSER III funds are being used to support students and address learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, approximately $102.8 million of ESSER III funding has been allocated for student academic and wellness support. In the summer of 2021, FCPS served 34,000 students with robust, tuition-free summer programming. In 2022, we served 32,000 students. 

The rate of FCPS academic recovery is outpacing Virginia as a whole. Reading performance is almost back to pre-pandemic levels after just one year. Math performance is progressing toward the pre-pandemic baseline. Watch the full presentation on YouTube. 

ESSER III plans for each individual school can be found on each school’s website.  For more information on FCPS ESSER III funding allocations, visit the ESSER III webpage.

ESOL

December 1, 2022 

During the Academic Matters segment, Dr. Rich Pollio, Director of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Services, shared data around our English Learner students versus students who speak English and another language. 

Forty-nine percent of our students speak English and at least one other language. Twenty percent of our students are receiving English language development services. Pollio talked about the value of community in supporting our English Learners in their journey. 

Assessment Practices

November 14, 2022 

Superintendent Reid discussed the innovative assessment practices happening in FCPS as part of our School Division of Innovation designation from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). 

This recognition means that VDOE has approved a plan to improve student learning, educational performance, and college, career, and citizenship readiness skills. It positions FCPS as a state leader in innovative practices with the opportunity to impact statewide policy decisions. Watch Dr. Reid’s presentation.

NAEP Assessment

November 3, 2022 

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid shared some common misconceptions concerning the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment. Watch the presentation on YouTube.