FAQs about Advanced Academic Services

Frequently Asked Questions about AAP Services

 

What is the AAP program?  Is it the same as Level IV AAP?

AAP and Level IV AAP are not the same thing.  Level IV AAP is one part of a continuum of Advanced Academic services provided by the Advanced Academic Program (AAP) in FCPS.  The continuum of services consists of four AAP levels. Through a continuum of services (AAP Levels I, II, III, and IV), students engage in complex subject matter, preparing them for more challenging and rigorous classes as they advance in grade level.  As students demonstrate a need for advanced learning opportunities, they may receive AAP Level I, II or III services by their homeroom teacher within their grade level classroom or in a group with our Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART).  Colvin Run Elementary School’s Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) utilize 21st century skills, Critical & Creative Thinking Strategies and experiences specifically designed to meet the unique learning profile of a broad range of advanced learners.

Colvin Run Elementary School houses a Level IV AAP center, which accepts 3-6th grade students from Colvin Run Elementary School and Great Falls Elementary School.  Children identified for Level IV AAP services exhibit exceptional performance capability in academic, intellectual, and creative endeavors. In order to meet their needs and develop to their potential, these learners require a curriculum differentiated in the depth, breadth, and pace of instruction in all four core subject areas.  Adaptations are made to the curriculum in order to provide an appropriate level of challenge for these learners with a strong emphasis on critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. The Level IV AAP program environment allows students to explore and express their ideas with other Level IV AAP identified peers using the AAP curriculum and supplemental resources.  Students in the level IV are accelerated by at least one year in mathematics, however, Advanced Mathematics is available schoolwide to students outside of level IV if appropriate.                                                                                                                                               

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Is it true that ALL students receive AAP services at Colvin Run?

At Colvin Run Elementary School, all K-6th grade students receive opportunities to learn content through AAP strategies and are instructed with resources from the Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) curriculum framework.  The Virginia Department of Education has again recognized Colvin Run Elementary School as a school that has made significant progress toward goals for increased student achievement and expanded educational opportunities.  This expanded AAP curriculum in Math, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies are differentiated to meet students’ needs. There is a strong emphasis on higher level thinking skills. Adaptations are made to the curriculum in order to provide an appropriate level of challenge for these learners with a strong emphasis on critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making.   Students in the Grade Level and Level IV AAP classrooms utilize units and resources from the AAP Curriculum Frameworks to receive differentiated instruction based on the students’ needs.

Children need to develop skills necessary for flexible problem solving through opportunities to think critically and creatively in this rapidly changing, increasingly diverse, and interconnected world.  To support their continued growth, all classrooms focus on use of the FCPS Portrait of a Graduate traits: Communication, Collaboration, Being an Ethical and Global Citizen, Critical & Creative Thinking, and Being Goal-oriented and Resilient.  Classroom experiences provide students with opportunities that lead to deeper understanding of grade level content. All students also receive instruction infused with the nine Critical & Creative Thinking Strategies of: Questioning, Plus/ Minus/ Interesting, Encapsulation, Visualization, Point of View, Decisions & Outcomes, Analogies, Mindmapping, and Fluency/Flexibility/Originality and Elaboration to elicit a higher level thinking response and stretch students' thinking in order to help them grow both academically and personally.  In addition to in-school use of the nine critical and creative thinking strategies, the Advanced Academic Programs office provides articles for how parents can use the strategies to nurture critical and creative thinking at home.  By infusing the AAP curriculum and resources into the Program of Studies for all students, Colvin Run is able to provide intellectual stimulation and challenge to our entire population through advanced thinking and problem solving.

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What opportunities do students have to grow as a learner and be challenged whether in the Grade Level classrooms or Level IV classrooms?

Students in the Grade Level and Level IV AAP classrooms utilize units and resources from the AAP Curriculum Frameworks to receive differentiated instruction based on the students’ academic needs.  This expanded AAP curriculum in Math, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies allows all students to benefit from higher order thinking and expanded opportunities to broaden and deepen their understanding of grade level content.

In K-2nd grade, the classrooms have chosen common AAP units in different subject areas that are used across the entire grade level.  In 3rd-6th grade classrooms, the Grade Level and AAP Level IV classrooms have chosen common AAP units, in each of the subject areas, which will be used simultaneously in both Level IV AAP and Grade Level classroom settings.  In 3rd-6th grade classroom settings, the students are instructed using the grade level's curriculum with the exception of Advanced Math, which teaches one grade level above the grade level. Advanced Math is available to students, who qualify, in both Level IV AAP and Grade Level classroom settings.

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I saw a section of the progress report that says “Level of Advanced Academic Services”  How many levels of service are there and what do they mean?

FCPS has four AAP levels of service.  Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) offers a continuum of advanced academic services for all students in grades K-8. Learning experiences are designed to develop higher-level thinking through enrichment, acceleration, and extension of the Program of Studies (POS). Teachers, administrators, and Advanced Academic Resource Teachers (AART) work together to provide the following levels of services:

·         Level I - Critical and Creative Thinking Lessons, Grades K-6

The first level is provided to all students in grades kindergarten through grade six and consists of model lessons that are designed to teach critical and creative thinking skills. The lessons are modeled in all classrooms by AARTs and the thinking strategies are then used throughout the year by classroom teachers and other teachers who work with students. Student responses to these lessons are used as part of the identification process for levels II-IV. Parents may also practice these strategies during family conversations and activities. A description of the nine critical and creative thinking strategies can be found at http://www.fcps.edu/is/aap/level1.shtml.

·         Level II - Differentiated Lessons in Areas of Academic Strength, Grades K-6

The AART collaborates with classroom teachers to provide additional challenge through lessons and resources that extend and enrich the POS. Screening for this level of service is ongoing throughout the school year. The Young Scholars Model begins at this level and is designed to find and nurture advanced academic potential in students from historically underrepresented populations.  In the Grade Level classrooms, students will receive differentiated instruction within their classroom through AAP units during the school year, typically one unit in each subject area. This is a Level II AAP service because we are differentiating instruction and it is provided to all children at Colvin Run Elementary. All 3rd-6th grade students who show a need for an advanced math curriculum also have the opportunity to take Advanced Mathematics.  This AAP Level II service is provided in the Advanced Mathematics class. In the Advanced Mathematics program, the curriculum is accelerated by one grade level (3rd grade students take 4th grade Math, 4th grade students take 5th grade math, etc.). Students may also receive advanced reading instruction in the classroom based on their reading level and their need for additional challenge.

·         Level III - Part-Time Advanced Academic Programs, Grades 3-6

Students identified by a local school screening committee for part-time advanced academic services Level III are challenged through models and strategies designed to extend and enrich the POS in the four core subject areas. Screening for this level of service is ongoing throughout the school year.  Students identified for AAP Level III services in the Grade Level classroom also meet with Mrs. Grabel once each week to receive additional advanced academic services. Mrs. Grabel and the classroom teacher regularly collaborate to ensure that Level III students receive differentiated instruction continually in the classroom.

·         Level IV - Full-Time Advanced Academic Placement, Grades 3-8

Students found eligible for placement in full-time Advanced Academic Programs Level IV through a central selection process receive a highly challenging instructional program in the four core subject areas.  Students identified for Level IV AAP services in the Level IV AAP classroom environment receive instruction using additional AAP curriculum and supplemental resources. This environment allows students to explore and express their ideas with other Level IV AAP identified peers.  These students receive the AAP curriculum scaffolded to provide them with opportunities to broaden and deepen their understanding of the grade level curriculum. All students in a Level IV AAP classroom are required to take Advanced Math. Progress for students in the Level IV AAP program is reported using extended standards, available on the FCPS public website.  These standards align directly with the differentiated curriculum on the AAP framework.

Screening for this level of service occurs in the fall for students who are new to FCPS and in the spring for all other students.  Additional information is available in the Parent Information Packet, published on the AAP website, http://www.fcps.edu/is/aap.

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What is the score needed on the CogAT or NNAT test for my child to be accepted to the Level IV Program?

FCPS used to use a cut score to determine if a child qualified for placement into Level IV classrooms.  There is no longer a cut score that guarantees a student will be eligible for Level IV AAP services nor will being in the pool or putting forth a parent referral guarantee your child will be eligible for Level IV AAP services.  The cut score, more accurately called a “benchmark score”, determines the 2nd grade “pool” of students screened for Level IV services, but this still does not guarantee Level IV placement.  The 2nd grade students in the “pool” are automatically screened for eligibility but they are not automatically found eligible for the Level IV AAP program. (More information is available in the article “Historical Perspective” on the AAP website.)

To better reflect a student’s body of work throughout the entire school year, FCPS has a holistic portfolio screening process that is used to identify students for Level IV AAP services.  This portfolio includes: an abilities-test score, samples of student work, parent and commentary, a Gifted Behavior Rating Scale, evidence that a child is achieving with advanced Mathematics and above grade level Reading curriculum, and evidence of student performance both in and out of school.  The entire portfolio is submitted for review to the central AAP office and a central selection committee made up of educational professionals with different areas of expertise makes the decision regarding eligibility for Level IV AAP services.  The committee looks at the body of evidence knowing that no particular test score, work sample, or rating scale is weighted more than the rest of the portfolio. It is a holistic view to determine if a child needs Level IV AAP services.

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Is it possible to refer for Level IV AAP services at other grade levels?

Students who are not in the 2nd grade “pool” and any other 3rd through 7th grade student can be screened for Level IV AAP services through referral.  These students’ screening portfolios are assembled and sent for review to determine eligibility, just the same as the students in the 2nd grade pool.  In 3rd-7th grade, parents may initiate the screening process and creation of a file by submitting a referral for Level IV AAP services by the deadline published each year.  This screening file then follows the same process as above. If found eligible, the student may receive level IV services the following school year.

At any time during the school year, parents can complete a Referral Form for possible Level II or Level III services and submit it to Mrs. Grabel, our AART.  The CRES Advanced Academic Screening Committee considers available ability and achievement test scores, the Gifted Behavior Rating Scale (GBRS), progress reports, and parent/guardian input to determine if Level II or III services are needed to further support your child’s academic development in the Grade Level classroom.

At any time during the school year, parents may request that their child be screened for Level II or Level III services, depending on the child's growth and success with the curriculum, by contacting the homeroom teacher and Mrs. Grabel. This decision is a school-based committee decision and allows for us to adjust the level of service during the school year.

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Why are more students identified for Level IV services at Colvin Run Elementary than other FCPS schools?

Colvin Run is a Level IV center school.  Each year, the FCPS establishes criteria in which 2nd grade students are identified for the "Level IV pool".  This is often misidentified as the "AAP pool". As discussed earlier, AAP does not mean only Level IV. Colvin Run is a high performing school with a school community who values education and provides their children with wonderful experiences and background knowledge.  Consequently, Colvin Run Elementary has a larger than typical student population who require instruction that goes beyond the typical FCPS curriculum. While some FCPS schools may identify a smaller number of students at a certain grade level, we have more students at Colvin Run, and within the Langley pyramid, identified using the same criteria.  Traditionally, students identified for Level IV services go to another school to receive these services. These Level IV center schools are comprised of Level IV students bused from typically three to ten area elementary schools. We are unique in that we have only two feeder schools for the Level IV program: Colvin Run Elementary and Great Falls Elementary.

In the United States, a mean score on an abilities test (such as the CogAT) between 90-110 is typical for any particular grade level.  At Colvin Run Elementary, a mean score between 116-122 is typical for any particular grade level. This demonstrates that our students need more than a typical standards-based curriculum.  They benefit from critical & creative thinking opportunities and expanded learning, which is why students receive Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) instruction in all K-6th grade classrooms to help them as they continue to grow as learners.

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How can I refer my child for Level II and III services at the school?

At any time during the school year, parents can complete a Student Referral Form for School-Based (Level II or Level III services) and submit it to Mrs. Grabel, our AART. The CRES Advanced Academic Screening Committee considers available ability and achievement test scores, the Gifted Behavior Rating Scale (GBRS), progress reports, and parent/guardian input to determine if Level II or III services are needed to further support your child’s academic development in the Grade Level classroom. This decision is a school-based committee decision and allows for us to adjust the level of service during the school year.

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What is an AART and how do they support students?

Mrs. Alyssa Grabel is an Advanced Academic Resource Teacher or AART.  An AART’s role is to build and support the continuum of AAP services at each school.  The AART provides resources for all school staff to be able to appropriately challenge students using approved curriculum from the AAP Curriculum Frameworks.  The AART works with all teachers to be able utilize AAP curriculum on a regular basis. The AART’s role is to work with students and provide Level I, II and III services to students in conjunction with classroom teachers.  They also serves as a resource for Level IV classroom teachers as they work to implement AAP curriculum in their classroom full-time. Additional information about the AART role is available on the AAP website.  

At Colvin Run Elementary, the AART collaborates with each grade level team (Grade Level classrooms and Level IV program classrooms) to plan for Critical & Creative Thinking Strategies, how to utilize AAP curriculum and to plan for differentiation to challenge advanced learners.  A large part of her time is spent working with all teachers in grades K-2 and all teachers in grades 3-6 who teach Grade Level in order to deliver AAP Level II and III services. The teachers and our AART work closely to deliver differentiated instruction using AAP curriculum in the four core subject areas by planning together every week.  In addition, Mrs. Grabel co-teaches in every 3rd - 6th grade Grade Level classroom every week using the AAP curriculum chosen in Language Arts. She also meets with small groups of students in grades 3-6 once a week who are receiving AAP Level III services to extend their learning in Language Arts and discuss their advanced reading material in book groups.  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What subject areas offer middle school Honors classes and how can my child enroll in Honors classes?

Honors classes are available in the four core academic areas of English, mathematics, social studies, and science.  Honors classes are open enrollment, and any student may choose to enroll in Honors classes in the middle school. If a parents/guardians feel that their child would benefit from Honors classes (or from additional Honors classes), they may contact the middle school Director of Student Services (DSS) and request enrollment in Honor classes.  Honors classes use a Fairfax County Public Schools-developed middle school advanced curriculum that extends the FCPS Program of Studies in depth and complexity. The curriculum is based on the Parallel Curriculum Model, a nationally endorsed model for high-ability learners. Honors classes are open enrollment. The course selection process begins in February-March when middle schools begins the process of visiting elementary schools and sending home course selection forms. Parents will then have the opportunity to choose which Honors classes in which they would like to enroll their child and return the form to the school.

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How is the middle school AAP Level IV center program and IBMYP different from the middle school Honors?

Rising seventh grade level IV center-eligible students may attend the assigned Full-time Level IV center. They also may enroll in Honors English, Honors Social Studies, and Honors Science classes at their local middle schools.  Parents/guardians help students factor in all variables, such as transportation times, friends who will go to same high school, and grouping in honors or level IV, as they make the decision about what is best for each individual for middle school placement.   The Level IV center program for students in grades 7 and 8 offers identified students a full-time, highly challenging instructional program in all core subjects: English, mathematics, social studies, and science. Honors classes are designed to provide opportunities for all students to develop academic strengths through a more rigorous and challenging program in identified subject areas.  The curriculum and teacher training for level IV and honors classes is the same - the difference is only in grouping in that level IV will be all level IV eligible students and honors is open to any student with interest or academic strength in a particular subject area.

·         International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IBMYP): Selected Schools, Grades 6-10

The IBMYP is designed for students ages 11-16. The program helps students develop the knowledge, understanding, attitudes, and skills necessary to participate actively and responsibly in a changing world. The curriculum is supported by the fundamental concepts of intercultural awareness, holistic learning, and communication.

·         Honors, Grades 7-8

Advanced and/or accelerated classes are available for students in grades 7- 8 through an open enrollment process. Students receive instruction that is differentiated for advanced learners in the four core subjects in one or more areas of academic strength or interest.