Advanced Academic Programs

Continuum of Advanced Academic Services in FCPS

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is committed to challenging all students through talent development efforts and differentiated instruction to meet the needs of advanced learners.  

FCPS offers a continuum of advanced academic services for all students in Grades K-12. The continuum of services approach recognizes unique student needs. It focuses on matching students to services, not labeling students. Through the continuum, students have: 

  • Many entry points for deeper learning opportunities in specific areas of need.  
  • A cluster group of students with similar academic needs.  

Teachers and staff work together to provide the following levels of service at the elementary level: 

Access to Rigor, Grades K-6 (Level I)  

All students have opportunities to think critically, reason, and problem-solve.  Teachers in Grades K-6 use:

  • critical and creative thinking strategies in their lessons. 
  • materials from the AAP Curriculum Framework a least of once per quarter. 

Because Access to Rigor is for all FCPS students, there is not a screening process. 

Subject Specific Advanced Differentiation, Grades K-6 (Level II) 

Some students are strong in a specific subject area. Classroom teachers may adjust instruction for students in these area(s) by: 

  • Providing different assignments and resources in those subjects,
  • Grouping students by their strengths, interests, and readiness, and
  • Using more materials from the AAP Curriculum Framework.

Students are re-evaluated for subject specific differentiation each year at the local school. 

Part-Time Services, Grades 3-6 (Level III)  

Some students have advanced academic needs in multiple subject areas in addition to specific subject differentiation. They need part-time AAP services.  In part-time services:

  • Students work with other students that have similar academic needs through weekly pull-out classes or weekly co-taught lessons with the AART and classroom teacher. 
  • Teachers provide frequent opportunities to use materials from the AAP Curriculum Framework in Language Arts, science, social studies, and/or mathematics. 

Part-time services continue through Grade 6. Students do not need to be evaluated each year.  

Full-Time Services, Grades 3-8 (Level IV)  

Some advanced learners need a full-time advanced academic program with differentiated instruction in all four core content areas (Language Arts, mathematics, social studies, and science). Students eligible for full-time AAP services:

  • Are cluster grouped with other students that have similar academic needs 
  • Have full-time use of materials from the AAP Curriculum Framework in Language Arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, and 
  • Use curriculum that is differentiated through acceleration, depth, and complexity of content.  

Students access full-time AAP services at a Local Level IV program or a Level IV Center. We have a Local Level IV at Centre Ridge.

Full-time services continue through Grade 8. Students do not need to be evaluated each year. 

Young Scholars

Young Scholars is designed to identify and nurture students with high academic potential who may face additional barriers to access and success in Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) and courses, including students who are the first in their family to attend college in the U.S., English language learners, students who are economically disadvantaged, and students who are twice exceptional.

Twice-Exceptional (2e)

Some gifted students with advanced learning needs may also have a learning disability. Twice-exceptional (or “2e”) students need strengths-based instruction while receiving advanced programming. The FCPS continuum of AAP services provides multiple entry points to meet student needs while also supporting their learning challenges. FCPS has created a 2e handbook to help schools and families understand how to identify and serve 2e students.

Testing and Referrals

Identification of Students for Screening

Pathway 1: Grade 2-7 Staff and Family Referrals

All students in Grades 2-7 may be screened by referral. The referral window is open from the first day of school through December 15, annually. Do not wait for test scores or the universal screener referral. No referrals for Level IV screening will be accepted after the spring screening deadline of December 15, annually.

Administrators, teachers, parents or guardians, students or peers, or other adults who know of a child’s advanced potential may submit an Advanced Academic Level IV Referral Form. The completed form is submitted to the local school principal or AART. You will receive, in writing, receipt of the referral.

Pathway 2: Grade 2 Universal Screener Referral

The Grade 2 universal screener referral is determined by reviewing ability test results. Ability tests given by FCPS during specific testing windows are considered for the Grade 2 Universal Screener Referral. Parents or guardians of students who are identified for the Universal Screener Referral through the use of local building norms are notified in writing that their student will be automatically screened. All universal screener referral candidates are screened for possible full-time placement. Parents can submit a written request that their child not be screened.


Do not wait for test results before turning in the Level IV Referral Form, as no exceptions are made to the spring screening deadline. Forms may be submitted as early as the first day of school through December 15th annually. 

Students must have results from at least one ability test (using the most recent form/edition) on the following approved list:

  • FCPS CogAT Custom Form, Grade 2 Test
  • Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)
  • Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT)
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC V)

For other tests, please check with your Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART).

The local school mails FCPS-administered test results to parents or guardians.

Screening Files

The local school screening committee prepares and submits completed Level IV screening files for students currently enrolled in and attending FCPS to be evaluated by the countywide central selection committee. Multiple sources of information are reviewed to determine eligibility for placement in Level IV. Eligibility decisions are made by the central selection committee and reviewed by an oversight committee. Parent/guardian(s) are notified by mail regarding eligibility.

Our Advanced Academic Resource Teacher