Fairfax Schools Ready for Challenges Ahead
Emery, Mark H., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The vision of Fairfax County Public Schools is to provide a gifted-quality education to every child in an instructional setting appropriate for his or her needs.
We are determined to educate all students to meet higher academic standards and to prepare all students to be responsible citizens in the 21st century. To fulfill this vision will require hard work, commitment, motivation and measurable achievement goals and accountability at every level of the organization.
We in this community enjoy one of the finest and most successful public education systems in the country. By every measure, Fairfax County students, teachers, administrators and support staff members are among the best in the nation. Indeed, this is a school division marked by an international reputation for academic excellence.
But this is also a school division facing many challenges: a rapidly growing student population, increasing numbers of students who bring with them an increasing number of special needs, an ever-rising level of high academic standards and growing demands from the community for cost-effectiveness.
Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech and the Fairfax County public schools staff have brought forth a new model for an educational accountability system that will ensure that, in the midst of these challenges, academic achievement remains our highest priority. This accountability system is based on clearly defined expectations for teachers, administrators and students. Program assessment and analysis tools - which make use of new technologies - provide feedback necessary to adjust instruction and programs to meet the needs of our students. These tools also allow us to report to parents and the community about student progress in meeting local and state curriculum standards.
The superintendent has proposed, and the School Board has adopted unanimously, a set of 10 divisionwide strategic targets and accountability measures that establish specific ways to address our division plan priorities: supporting high academic achievement, addressing diverse students needs, integrating technology into the classroom, maintaining safe schools and using resources appropriately.
We have several targets:
* 100 percent of schools will meet or exceed the Virginia Standards of Accreditation, as measured by the Standards of Learning tests in mathematics, science, English, history/social science and technology.
* The percentage of students scoring above the national average on both the verbal and mathematics Scholastic Assessment Tests will exceed the previous year's percentage, and the gap between minority and majority students' scores will narrow by 10 percent. …