Fairfax County Public Schools

Fairfax County Public Schools

Through a yearly innovation institute, the district tries to support research and development of best practices by empowering teachers to experiment with new methods, track their results and share what worked well and what they learned.

State: Virginia Number of Students: 185,831
School Type: Public School District Free and Reduced Lunch: 22.4%
Grade Level: PK-12 English Language Learners: 24.9%

School Context

FCPS is aligning their strategic plan to four goals that support the division’s Portrait of a Graduate (POG).

Student Success: FCPS aims to prepare every student for success in school and life.

School Culture: Creating a school culture where all students feel included and supported is key to the division.

Strong Staff: The division values a strong staff and the division works hard to support staff members and celebrate theirsuccesses.

The Right Resources: Finding and providing the right resources is a focus for the division, which aims to support the needs of itsschool communities and ensure that funding is being used responsibly.

State of Technology

BYOD Initiative: In 2011, the Superintendent of Fairfax County PublicSchools launched a BYOD initiative, inviting all principals to encouragestudents to bring personally-owned devices to school to support learning. TheSuperintendent recommended that principals begin with laptops and tablets,and to decide about smartphones at a later phase. The BYOD initiative is stillgoing strong throughout the division and now students are encouraged tobring their mobile devices, eReaders and laptops alike. For students who can’tafford devices, the district has a check-out program so they can have accessto a device.

Learning 24/7: Using the Blackboard platform as a learning managementsystem, the division supports 24/7 access to learning materials and activities.Branded as FCPS 24/7, the platform supports fully online courses whereteachers store all their curriculum, post homework assignments and operatea central hub for communication. The division’s school board requires thatevery teacher’s 24/7 site is up by back to school night.

Curriculum + Assessment House: Through a partnership between NorthropGrumman and Blackboard, the district created its own content managementand assessment system called eCART. ECART is linked to its LMS and housesall lesson plans, resources and formative assessments so that teachers caneasily access and distribute content to students through the LMS. Twicea year, FCPS administers division-wide assessments to students as a wayof identifying specific learning needs. ECART was built specifically for thedivision’s needs but is sold to others as an enterprise product by NorthropGrumman under the brand name Horizon.

Focused on PD: Fairfax values PD and training around technology integrationfor staff. The division has a partnership with North TIER, a non-profitorganization that provides technology PD for teachers. North TIER offersonline courses on topics such as differentiation, project-based learning andusing Google Apps for Education in the classroom. The division also usesTruenorthlogic to track which courses teachers complete, evaluation data,portfolios of their own work and student growth scores.

R&D Department: Through a yearly innovation institute, the division triesto support research and development of best practices by empoweringteachers to experiment with new methods and track their results. Teachersmust submit a grant to test a specific creative project in order to gain entryinto the institute. Once accepted, they are given a set of laptops or iPads. Inexchange, the teacher implements his or her new idea with the support ofthe technology teacher and tracks their results. Then at the end of the year,the teachers present the results to their school and the central office, sharingwhat worked well and what they learned. The initiative is meant to encourageinnovation and creative thinking amongst the school community.

Tech Needs & Requirements

Tools must be web-based. Tools must adhere to the highest level of data protectionstandards. The biggest need for FCPS is ubiquitous Internet. Over 12,000 students, almost 8% of the student population, lack access toInternet at home. The division has looked into mobile hotspots, which are cost-prohibitive. They have also tried to leveragepartnerships with Cox and Comcast, but these programs proved to have too many strings attached. The division sees this as acommunity-wide issue and is passionately trying to address it.


AVID Pilot: In 2013, FCPS launched a 1:1 pilot program at Stuart High School in grades 9 and 10 to support the AVID program. Thepilot was a success and in 2014, it was expanded to grades 11 and 12.

1:1 Pilot for ESOL: The ESOL office is currently conducting some iPad pilots to explore the implication for language instructionand acquisition.

*Content From 2015

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