Interagency Alternative School (IAS) programs provide staff, materials, and direction to nine types of programs at various locations in Fairfax County. Some of these programs are co-funded with other public agencies. IAS programs use an open enrollment model. They accept both Hearings Office and electively-placed students.
Students served in these programs may have exhibited problems in the following areas:
- serious delinquency
- poor school performance
- substance abuse
- criminal behavior
- abuse and neglect
- school refusal
- conditional expulsion
- family dysfunction
Each IAS program is designed to target specific student populations:
- The ISAEP program provides an opportunity for eligible FCPS students, aged 16 years or older, to take the high school equivalency test at an earlier age and receive career education instruction. All students also learn skills that will improve their workplace behavior. This program is partially funded by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) as an Individual Student Alternative Education Plan program.
- The Transition Support Resource Center (TSRC) is a short-term intervention program, typically one semester to one year in length. Electively placed students who demonstrate success in this learning environment may remain enrolled through graduation. Electively placed students may also choose to return to their base school or transition to another nontraditional school program. Teachers at each site use a combination of small group instruction and online learning to provide access to content. The TSRC focus is to improve each student’s academic performance and help with a successful re-entry into his or her next educational placement.
- The Nontraditional Career Readiness Academies (NCRA) partner with Career and Technical Education (CTE) to provide students with opportunities to explore their passions through career preparation programs. These programs are co-located at FCPS Academy sites. The NCRA program supports students by offering a smaller class size for core classes and a structured learning environment, while facilitating students’ growth. The opportunity to participate in CTE programs provides a link to business and industry that starts the students down the path toward their career field of choice.
- Agency-sponsored programs are specifically designed to meet the needs of the student population of the host agency and enrollment is determined by the host agency. Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, United Methodist Family Services, the VDOE, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, in partnership with IAS, provide comprehensive services to youth who require intensive assistance and often long-term interventions. Agency-sponsored programs include:
- Fairfax County Adult Detention Center
- Shelter Care
- Stepping Stones and Foundations
- Court schools
- Independent Study Programs
- Leland House
FCPS has developed several initiatives that promote academic achievement, development of essential life skills, and responsibility to community. These initiatives were developed independently by IAS staff members or in partnership with sponsoring agencies.
- Creative Arts Contest: This is an annual poetry, essay, and art contest co-sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Club and IAS. This event recognizes outstanding student poetry, essays and artwork within IAS.
- IAS Literacy Initiative: As a collaborative team, IAS staff members aim to expand their knowledge and resources, promote their practice, and apply their findings to content literacy strategies to increase student engagement. Teachers model and provide students with an opportunity for daily reading and weekly discussions, based on students’ interests, in order to encourage reading and promote lifelong learners. Each site sets specific reading goals and reviews the progress quarterly.
- Literary Magazine: Developed and published by IAS students who are enrolled in a desktop publishing elective, the literary magazine showcases academic and creative accomplishments by compiling student writings and artwork from all IAS sites.
- Virtual Writing Lab: This virtual peer tutoring program partners “sister” sites so that students are able to provide feedback to each other on writing assignments from all curricular areas.
- Career Discovery Fair: IAS students visit Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) and participate in workshops held on campus, including an NVCC campus tour, College Success workshop, and Financial Aid workshop. Students are provided an opportunity to take their placement tests at the conclusion of the visit. The target audience is juniors and seniors, but all grade levels are invited.
- Dreamcatchers: This is a partnership between George Mason University and Nontraditional School Programs that targets capable at-risk students enrolled in alternative education programs. This unique program identifies and supports students whose life goals and postsecondary plans include attending and graduating from college.
- Goal Setting: As part of the positive behavior approach process, teachers participate in academic, behavior, and personal weekly goal setting with students as an initiative designed to model and practice goal setting behavior and to build relationships with students.
- Responsibility to the Community and Individual Service-Learning Projects: Teachers at all sites coordinate with students to determine one community service class project each quarter. Teachers and students collaborate to determine a community service project that is within the scope of the school program and the agency parameters. All IAS sites educate students to understand and model the important attributes of an ethical and global citizen. Students develop a plan with their teachers in which they participate in at least 12 hours (3 hours per quarter) worth of independent activities over the course of the school year that demonstrate that the student:
- Contributes to solutions that benefit the broader community
- Understands the foundations of our country and values our rights, privileges, and responsibilities
- Demonstrates empathy, compassion, and respect for others
- Promotes environmental stewardship
- Education for Employment Job Fair: Students have an opportunity to participate in two job fairs (one in the fall and one in the spring) to demonstrate mastery of career competencies by networking and interviewing with a variety of local employers at one time and place, in an effort to secure seasonal employment. Prior to the event, students build a resume as well as review and practice job interview skills. The Education for Employment teacher provides upper grade-level students classroom instruction to develop students’ employment skills and coordinates with local businesses for internships and employment opportunities.
- Restorative Justice Attendance/Community Circles: IAS staff members function within the restorative justice framework, with many trained facilitators who lead community building circles to build relationships at the site. Data has shown that by building community buy in, attendance in school increases and discipline referrals decrease.
Curriculum and Testing
IAS adheres to the FCPS division wide assessment schedule and adheres to the FCPS Program of Studies using FCPS approved textbooks and ancillary materials for middle and high school students. In addition, IAS uses a VDOE approved digital curriculum.
Current and Future Plans
- increase graduation rate so that 83 percent of IAS students who are eligible will graduate by August 2020.
- strengthen student engagement, hope, connectedness, and investment in school and local communities. This is measured by the student engagement survey. The goal is for students to reach or maintain a 4 or 5 in three out of four Kids at Hope indicators.
- increase family engagement, so that all families feel respected at IAS. Parents will have a positive opinion of their family's school experiences on the post survey in five out of ten questions in the following categories: Welcoming Environment, Communication, Student Success, Advocacy, and Family and School Partnerships.
- We believe that a student-centered environment that is focused on hope is fundamental to academic success in all areas as well as post-secondary success. Therefore, IAS will continue to focus on improving student relationships through culturally responsive teaching and an equity lens.
- The over-arching goal of IAS is to graduate students on time; therefore, grade level promotion is essential. In order to achieve grade level promotion, IAS will continue to monitor credit acquisition and refine the responsive instruction process so that staff members can intervene effectively with struggling students. IAS will also expand industry credential opportunities so that the IAS students achieve this industry credential at a 100 percent rate.
- We also believe wholeheartedly in high quality instruction; therefore, IAS staff members will continue to assess and analyze attendance rates, refine strategies for attendance intervention, and develop capacity to provide continued incentives for students to attend class.
- We believe in developing a sense of civic responsibility in students and will continue to expand the service-learning programming and provide meaningful opportunities for students to develop a responsibility to the community.
- Finally, we believe in high quality professional development. IAS teachers will continue to participate in professional development opportunities in the following:
- effective use of Education Decision Support Library (EDSL) and eCART to target student learning
- development of instructional strategies to engage all students
- in-depth discussions around Portrait of a Graduate and how IAS embeds those tenets into instructional practices across the curriculum
- ongoing use of Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)
- coaching conversations with teachers, which will include specific feedback, to expand their capacity as instructors
- peer observations through CLV
- opportunities to collaborate around the design of innovative lessons infused with technology and critical/creative thinking strategies
- restorative justice practices and training to increase the number of teachers who are able to implement community circles at their site with the hope of building a stronger sense of community and improve student attendance