Understanding the Road Map
By Janice Miller, Chairman
City of Fairfax School Board
When the City School Board first began working on the Road Map to Academic Success in 2005, our mission was to develop a document that provided information to parents regarding the curriculum students need to take from kindergarten to 12th grade to succeed not only in school — but to be prepared for life.
Spearheaded by former City Schools Superintendent George Stepp, he designed the Road Map over the course of a year with the assistance of Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jan Mulvaney, former Fairfax High Student Services Director Carole Kihm, and other educators from Fairfax County Public Schools.
“The key to student success lies in parents knowing what all the options are for their children,” explains Dr. Mulvaney. “We aren’t advocating pushing students beyond what they can handle — emotionally or academically — but it is amazing to see what they can do given the chance.”
Stepp and his team also put together a task force of three dozen teachers, City School principals, guidance counselors and parents, who met once a month to hear a presentation from one of the FCPS curriculum teams — math, English, social studies, science and foreign language. Discussion ensued, and the task force determined which elements were critical to put into the Road Map.
In the fall of 2006, it was rolled out. Today, Superintendent Ann Monday has helped take the Road Map to new heights by having regular meetings with parents to explain how it works. The four City Schools also use this effective document to help students and parents chart a strong academic course. See more on Superintendent Monday’s thoughts below.
From my point of view — as a parent of four, grandmother of four, and City School Board member for three decades — this Road Map is a much-needed document that not only helps each student excel, but gives parents the critical information they need to help their children achieve to their highest potential.
My longtime friend, active PTA member and Fairfax City mom Marbea Tammaro summed it up when she said, “I have been involved in the PTA for 11 years and very involved in the City Schools — but this information was news to me. Too often, parents are in the dark — partly because we don’t ask the right questions. I believe the information on the Road Map will help us better guide our kids.”
We’re hoping all parents and students use the Road Map to its fullest. Please let me or any School Board member know if you have questions or need assistance by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Road Map to Academic Success, K-12
By Ann Monday, Superintendent
City of Fairfax Schools
Having been a high school principal for many years, I have had the privilege of giving thousands of graduating seniors their high school diplomas after seeing them make the transition from childhood to young adulthood during their high school years.
High school graduations are happy occasions for students and their families as parents celebrate the journey that their children have made from elementary school through middle school and then on to high school. On graduation day, I would routinely hear proud moms and dads wistfully say, “It seems like only yesterday that he (or she!) was starting kindergarten.”
I could not help but wonder what the students might have done differently on their journey through school had they known at kindergarten what they learned by graduation.
It was this observation that led the schools in the City of Fairfax to develop a document called the Road Map to Academic Success.
This document, which is available at all of the City schools and online at www.cityoffairfaxschools.org/roadmap, provides the information that parents and students need so they can make good decisions about their children’s academic progress from kindergarten to 12th grade.
The Road Map is more than a document. It is a commitment on the part of the City schools to help all students reach their potential — and to be ready for life after high school. This commitment is demonstrated in many ways, as illustrated by the examples described in this issue of Close-Up Online.
I am always honored to be invited to Fairfax High School’s graduation ceremony where I see our students so well prepared to follow their own paths to success. This year’s graduation was no exception.
In fact, we are pleased to tell you that this commitment is paying off for our students who can be sure that a diploma from Fairfax High School has prepared them well for whatever their future holds. We invite you to view the data below in the Fairfax High section to see just how well our students are doing in terms of graduation rates and taking Advanced Placement classes.
As always, we welcome your feedback and invite you to email me or any of the City School Board members with questions or ideas. That contact information is posted on the right, under Contact Us.
From all of us in the City Schools, we wish you and yours the very best this holiday season!
We invite you to join us for upcoming School Board Meetings:
Regular Meeting #6: Jan. 4
- Presentation of Proclamation to Dr. Jan Mulvaney
Janice Miller, Chairman of the School Board
- Student Representative Report
Jonathan Earley, Fairfax High School senior
- Daniels Run School Report
Kathy Mullenix, principal
- Public Hearing FY 2011 Superintendent’s Proposed Budget
City Schools Superintendent Ann Monday
Work Session #4: Jan. 25
- Professional Learning Communities
Terri Breeden, Assistant Superintendent, Professional Learning and Training and Kathleen Walts, Director, Professional Practice and Training, Fairfax County Public Schools
- Review of Superintendent’s Evaluation Form and Process
School Board Chairman Janice Miller
- FY 2011 Budget Update
Ann Monday, Superintendent
- All Night Graduation Contribution
Coming Up in the next issue of Close-Up online...
January 2010: THE BUDGET — A TOUGH ROAD AHEAD
Indicators suggest the Fairfax County School budget for FY11 could be grim. Fairfax County is estimating a deficit of $176 million and considering severe cuts to school programs. Because the City contracts for school services with FCPS, cuts made by the County could dramatically impact our schools.
February 2010: BEST PRACTICES
Peter Noonan, FCPS’ assistant superintendent for instruction, his colleague Kim Dockery, FCPS Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, will talk about Best Practices for Teaching and Learning.
Daniels Run Elementary
3705 Old Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22030
Providence Elementary School
3616 Jermantown Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
DANIELS RUN AND PROVIDENCE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS participate in a wide range of programs and activities before, during and after school to prepare them for advanced coursework that awaits them in middle and high school. Following are some of those engaging classes.
At both schools, an academic program called Compacted Math offers 6th graders who are identified for this program — based on criteria established by FCPS Instructional Services — an opportunity to master both the 6th and 7th grade math objectives.
“Students who participate in this program are typically placed in a Math Honors class in seventh grade, and several qualify for placement in Algebra as seventh graders,” explains Daniels Run Principal Kathy Mullenix, noting that students in the Compacted Math class may take the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test in the spring.
If they successfully complete grade 6 Compacted Math, receive a passing score of 91% or above on the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test and score Pass Advanced (500 or above) on the Grade 8 Math SOL, students are eligible to enroll in Algebra I Honors in seventh grade. Any sixth grader, regardless of whether or not they have taken Compacted Math, may be considered for Math 7 Honors.
Providence’s principal Jesse Kraft adds that the students chosen for the program have demonstrated an excellent knowledge of math, a strong work ethic and an aptitude for learning both the 6th and 7th grade curriculums at an accelerated pace.
Another way Daniels Run and Providence are ensuring students stay on track is through a strategy called Flexible Groups.
“These groups are configured by having students take what we call formative assessments, which are tests that help the teacher know how well the student is doing in a particular subject, like math or English,” Kraft explains. “Groups are then created so students who are struggling with the material will move at a slower pace and get extra time to master the materials. Similarly, students who are excelling, can move at a quicker pace.”
“The compositions of these groups can and should change, sometimes frequently, over the course of a school year depending on the needs of students,” Mullenix adds. “Our math tech resource teachers work daily with an enrichment math group who consistently performs above grade level,” she says.
Academic Resource Teachers
Another special offering in the elementary schools is Academic Resource Teachers, who provide enrichment to students identified for school-based services through a variety of instructional models. For instance, these additional teachers are able to pull out from the class small groups of students who are either struggling to master a concept or have mastered it and need additional enrichment so they can take their learning to even higher levels.
“Our Advanced Academics teachers definitely provide creative, higher level/critical thinking resources to students and teachers. They also provide staff development to classroom teachers individually, by grade level and whole faculty to support a challenging curriculum for all students.”
“Daniels Run and Providence are lucky to currently have fulltime Advanced Academic Resource teachers,” explains Mullenix. “We hope our staffing allocation in 2010-11 will allow us the same flexibility to staff a fulltime position.”
Lanier Middle School
3801 Jermantown Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
“WHEN IT COMES TO PROVIDING ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITIES for students to reach their potential academically so that they are prepared for whatever path they choose when they graduate from high school, Lanier provides two programs,” says Principal Scott Poole.
“Our Eagles Excel program and Jump Start to Honors camp have proven to be very effective not only here, but at other middle schools,” Poole says. “Research backs up the fact that these programs work, and we see the evidence every day that it’s true. Thanks to these enrichment classes, kids are more involved, engaged, and are prepared to take Honors and AP classes when they get to Fairfax High.”
Starting in the second quarter of the school year, Lanier’s Office of After School Programs runs a remedial program aimed at addressing the needs of students that are academically at-risk.
Poole explains that the data is provided by teachers who, after the first few months of school, were asked if they would like to participate in the program and to nominate students from their classes that they believe would benefit from after-school assistance at least one day a week.
The Eagles Excel program then takes shape, and this year includes 20 teachers and about 100 students.
“Parents were personally called by school administrators and asked to support the program, and students were required to sign a contract to confirm their commitment to it,” Poole adds. “This is an incredibly effective way to make sure the entire family is working toward helping the student achieve academic success.”
At the end of the second quarter, student progress will be used to determine if student participation in the program should be continued and/or if other students should be invited to participate.
Jump Start to Honors
Lanier’s Jump Start to Honors program invites selected students to participate in a two-week learning opportunity to support his/her preparation for enrollment in rigorous math/algebra course work at Lanier.
“Our curriculum focuses on Honors readiness skills, critical thinking/ questioning, time management and organization,” Poole adds. “Originally, our focus during Jump Start to Honors was to prepare students for success in Math 7 Honors or Algebra I Honors. Starting in the summer of 2009, we added rising 6th graders to the camp to help them prepare for Math 6 Honors and future success in middle school.”
Data has shown that students participating in Jump Start to Honors have earned high grades (A or B) the following school year.
“This program is so effective that tuition is paid in full by the City of Fairfax School Board,” Poole notes. “Having the School Board support our students in this way is an incredible benefit, and a tremendous show of support.”
Fairfax High School
3501 Rebel Run
Fairfax, VA 22030
SINCE IT WAS PRINTED IN 2006, the City Schools’ Road Map to Academic Success has been an effective resource for all students. Fairfax High School Principal Dave Goldfarb sees the Road Map as an effective tool to help all students prepare for taking rigorous coursework in college.
“It is my hope that our students will aspire to the level of challenge of our Advanced Placement (AP) courses,” Goldfarb says. “In order for students to succeed in advanced academic coursework, students must receive appropriate preparation in their preceding courses. Students and their parents must also have accurate information in making these academic decisions, and the Road Map is an asset in that respect.” Following are some of the programs helping students achieve their highest potential at Fairfax High.
Academic Boot Camp
The AP / Pre-AP, Honors Boot Camp program is hosted each summer at Fairfax High with the goal of helping students prepare for the rigorous Honors and AP classes they sign up to take in the fall.
In fact, last August 295 students came to school for two hours a day for two weeks to attend our Boot Camp program, which prepares them for rigorous courses this year. This is actually two separate programs — one for sophomores enrolling in Advanced Placement (AP) World History, and another for any students enrolling in AP, Pre-AP or Honors courses.
In a follow-up survey, students and parents overwhelmingly responded that the summer experience was useful in preparing them for the upcoming academic challenge.
One parent wrote, “I truly appreciate FHS offering the boot camp. I know my daughter got a lot out of it, including a boost to her confidence about AP-level courses. She was excited and interested about using higher-level thinking skills rather than regurgitation of information.”
AVID about learning
Leslie Payne and Naren Navarro are two seniors who are benefitting from another program called AVID — a program that stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination and targets students in the academic middle—B, C, and even D students—who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard.
AVID was set up three decades ago to help students who are capable of completing a rigorous curriculum but are falling short of their potential. Typically, they will be the ﬁrst in the family to attend college, and many are from low-income or minority families. AVID pulls these students out of their unchallenging courses and puts them on the college track. Its focus is acceleration—not remediation. (For more visit www.avidonline.org.)
Naren, for instance, took all standard-level classes as a freshman, but admits that he had progressed through middle school and ninth-grade with minimal effort. He joined AVID as a sophomore, and the program increased his motivation and interest in learning. He and Leslie are both taking three AP classes their senior year.
AVID students also take an elective course each year, which helps them develop organizational skills, setting goals, an inquiry-centered learning mindset, and habits of mind for critical thinking and problem-solving.
The AVID elective class supports the efforts through tutorials and extensive work with Cornell Notes and other tools for academic success.
“The focus on the note-taking helped me greatly because the more rigorous curriculum covers more content and helped me organize and make meaning of the information in the quicker-paced classes,” says Leslie who, like Naren, will be the first in her family to attend college this fall.
“Our AVID program is very effective,” Goldfarb shares, adding that there are nearly 100 Fairfax students enrolled in the school’s AVID program, including a class for students in each grade. “Every student in last year’s AVID cohort graduated with an Advanced Studies diploma and was accepted to a four-year college.”