International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Resources

School Policies

Special Educational Needs/Inclusive Education Policy

LMHS and SLHS Special Educational Needs/Inclusive Education Policy

Program and Services

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is committed to providing special education students with opportunities along a continuum of services that offer access to and participation in the activities of the school and community environments as appropriate to the age and educational needs of the student.

In FCPS services to students with disabilities are planned with long term outcomes in mind. Annual goals and objectives consider development in the areas of cognitive/academic, communication, personal, interpersonal and career skills. Teachers are committed to their role in planning with a student and family, through these annual goals and objectives, for the student's postsecondary education, employment and residential independence.

Fairfax County Public Schools upholds the principles of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as they support the rights of students with disabilities to have decisions regarding their individual instructional program made through the collaboration of parents who know their child best and professional educators who have knowledge of instructional practices and experience in guiding students with disabilities to become productive citizens.

Fairfax County Public Schools protects the rights of students with disabilities to be educated by teachers trained to instruct through adapted curriculum, to utilize a variety of instructional strategies and to take advantage of supplementary materials appropriate for the student's individual educational program (IEP).

Across the continuum of special education services, Fairfax County Public Schools serves students with one or more of the following identified disabilities:

  • Autism 
  • Deafness
  • Deaf/blindness
  • Developmental delays 
  • Emotional disability 
  • Hearing impairment 
  • Visual impairment 
  • Intellectual disability
  • Multiple disabilities 
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Specific learning disability 
  • Speech and language impairment 
  • Traumatic brain injury

Related  therapy services are available to allow a student to benefit from the individualized special education program.

Program Overview: The PreK-12 Office of Special Education Instruction strategically supports the implementation of evidence-based practices to increase academic achievement and the social and emotional competence of students based on individual needs.

In collaboration with the Instructional Services Department, the PreK-12 Office of Special Education Instruction for students with high-incidence disabilities provides support to schools through:

  • Training and support for schools implementing Responsive Instruction, a tiered system of support for students
  • Professional development in the areas of behavioral interventions, core instruction (literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies), collaborative teaching, differentiated instruction, use of formal and informal assessments, research-based instructional strategies for teaching content, and the Mandt System of crisis intervention
  • Research-based materials to match curriculum and instructional needs
  • Consultations with school staff to provide school-based professional development in areas related to instruction and behavior intervention
  • School consultations with administrators to address program development and staffing
  • Curriculum development in areas of support for students with disabilities
  • Behavioral support and planning
  • Mentor coaches for new special education teachers
  • ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)

In addition, special education staff members attend school-based, cluster, division-wide professional development opportunities offered by the Instructional Services Department related to the general education curriculum and resources.

In collaboration with the Parent Resource Center (PRC), support for parents is provided through parent workshops and trainings.

Instructional Program

The PreK-12 curriculum for FCPS is guided by the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) and the FCPS Program of Studies (POS) which includes objectives that have been identified for each grade level and curriculum area. This curriculum is a tool for planning, monitoring, and evaluating students’ work and progress on a continuous basis. Specialized instructional programs for reading, writing, and mathematics, are evidence-based, providing students with targeted, systematic, and explicit instruction on a consistent basis as determined by the IEP team. These programs are used to supplement the general education instructional program and provide students with differentiated approaches to access the curriculum.

Teachers provide special education services across a continuum of delivery options, ranging from the least to most restrictive learning environments in the following areas:

  • Consultation with general education teachers/employers to include co-teaching with the general education teacher
  • Individual and small-group support within general education classroom
  • Individual and small-group pull-out services outside of the general education classroom
  • Small-group self-contained classes within a general education school
  • Special education schools co-located within general education sites
  • Separate special education schools

When appropriate, students may also receive services in private day and residential schools, in the home, and in hospital settings. Related therapy services are available to support students in accessing the academic environment.


The following staff members may provide instruction and support for students with disabilities in high- incidence programs:

Special education teachers

  • plan and implement the instructional program, often in collaboration with general education teachers
  • monitor student progress and direct the activities of instructional assistants 

Instructional assistants

  • perform teaching-related activities and non-teaching assignments at the direction of the special education teacher

Social workers and psychologists

  • provide counseling services
  • assist in gathering outside resources
  • provide crisis intervention

Special education elective teachers

  • teach elective courses with a smaller student-teacher ratio 

Related service providers

  • provide services to students as determined by the IEP team 

Central office specialists and curriculum resource teachers

  • provide support for school staff to improve student achievement
  • coordinate curriculum development
  • plan and conduct professional development on topics across the curriculum
  • prepare and monitor budget spending
  • ensure that the philosophy and design of services reflect the current and relevant research in the field

Other staff members (not necessarily school based)

  • behavior intervention teachers
  • procedural support liaisons
  • assistive technology teachers

Interpretation of Special Needs Policy at LMHS and SLHS

The Middle Years Programme is a whole school programme encompassing grades 7 and 8 at LMHS and grades 9 and 10 at SLHS. The Diploma and Career-Related Programmes at South Lakes are open access and students who are capable of taking IB courses are encouraged to do so. All teachers at LMHS and SLHS are sensitive to special needs and work closely with students who have IEPs (Individualized Learning Plans) and 504 plans who need accommodations. DP teachers are particularly attentive to scaffolding Internal Assessments so students who become overwhelmed by research and lengthy writing assignments can comfortably and successfully work through the process. Many students with learning disabilities and other health impairments successfully complete the MYP and earn the Career-Related Certificate or the IB Diploma. While the curriculum is not modified, teachers work creatively with these students to encourage their success. Accommodations may include the use of a computer, extra time for tasks, and extra help after school.

The special education staff includes the following:


  • Special Education Department Chair
  • Category A teachers, including low-incidence teachers (ID/IDS)
  • Part-time Work Awareness and Transition (WAT) teacher.
  • Instructional Assistants (IAs)
  • Public Health Teaching Assistants (PHTAs)
  • Vision Itinerant Teachers
  • Deaf Hard of Hearing Itinerant
  • Public Health Assistants (PHAs).
  • Speech/Language Pathologist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Audiologist
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher
  • Adaptive Physical Education Teachers
  • School Psychologist
  • Part-Time School Social Worker


  • Special Education Assistant Principal
  • Special Education Department Chairs
  • Itinerant vision teacher
  • Intellectual disabilities teachers 
  • Cat B support staff
  • Emotional disabilities teachers (who also serve LD, OHI and autism)
  • Learning disabilities (LD) teachers
  • Instructional assistants
  • Full time and 2 part time speech/language pathologists who service all disabilities
  • Occupational itinerant therapist
  • Physical itinerant therapist
  • Hearing impairment itinerant therapist
  • PHA (physically handicapped assistant)
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • STEP (Secondary Transition to Employment) teachers
  • WAT (Work Awareness and Transition) teacher

These teachers and aides work with regular classroom teachers in a variety of capacities: team- teaching, ensuring student accommodations are employed by teachers, and following up with students on the completion of assignments and achievement of IEP goals. In the case of diploma and career-related program candidates, the DP or CP coordinator may also initiate contact with parents and sit in meetings with counselors and parents. The counseling staff is integral to the success of all students taking IB courses, working with the teachers and the coordinators to monitor student achievement, problem-solve, and provide mental health support.

Aside from instructional duties, special education teachers serve as case managers for the approximately 158 special education students currently identified at Hughes Middle School and 439 special education students at South Lakes High School. Case manager responsibilities include on- going communication with students, teachers and parents regarding instructional and behavioral concerns and needs, IEP goals and accommodations, and management of the IEP process. They hold annual meetings with parents and teachers to review the IEPs and make necessary revisions.

While special education students and their parents make preliminary course selections prior to the end of each school year, it is the responsibility of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team to make decisions regarding the student’s area(s) of need and delivery of special education services- based on each student’s unique individual needs- at the annual IEP meeting. Special education students at Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School are served in a variety of settings, including Advanced Academics and Honors courses. Other educational settings offered are the General Education setting, General Education setting with Special Education support, and the Special Education setting (which is for special education students only). Hughes Middle School also houses the cluster site for students identified with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) and Intellectual Disabilities-

Severe (IDS). Students served in the ID/IDS program receive modified instruction given academic performance is significantly below grade-level expectations. Instruction in the ID/IDS program is based on the Aligned Standards of Learning (ASOL) objectives developed by the Virginia Department of Education.

South Lakes High School is a Comprehensive Services Site. In addition, we have a Secondary Transition to Employment Program (STEP) for students 18-22 that have graduated with an Applied Studies Diploma and are not yet ready to transition to a job, vocational program, or other training program. We have students from a variety of schools attending this program.

Special needs students at Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School receive classroom accommodations. Accommodations are adaptations to presentation of curriculum content, student response modes, environmental factors, level of support, as well as use of technology and/or devices to help a student make progress and demonstrate learning in the general education curriculum through classroom, division, and state assessments. Accommodations are provided in all settings based on the academic and behavioral/functional needs of students.

All special education students at LHMS and SLHS participate in Virginia State Assessments. It is the responsibility of the IEP team to make decisions regarding which assessment option is most appropriate for each special needs student. Options include:

  • SOL: Standards of Learning tests without accommodations or with standard accommodations
  • VAAP: Virginia Alternative Assessment Program (based on the Aligned Standards of Learning)

Additional Special Education course offerings at Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School include Work Awareness and Transition (WAT), Personal Development, and Strategies for Success. WAT introduces skills needed for exploring, preparing for, and entering the work world; whereas, Personal Development and Strategies for Success take students through a yearlong curriculum designed to bolster social skills and Basic Skills through a yearlong curriculum designed to bolster organizational and study skills. SLHS also has STEP as an additional course offering.

The school policy is reviewed annually by the DP coordinator to ensure compliance with county guidelines, and with the Special Education Department.

Download the LMHS and SLHS Special Educational Needs/Inclusive Education Policy document (pdf)

Academic Honesty Policy

Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School Academic Honesty Policy

The LHMS and SLHS community embodies a spirit of mutual trust and intellectual honesty that is central to the very nature of the school and represents the highest possible expression of shared values among the members of the school community -- students, teachers, administrators, parents. Students who commit themselves to upholding LHMS and SLHS’s Honor Code will be instilled with a sense of integrity and personal achievement that will last beyond their middle and high school years.


Students attending LHMS and SLHS are expected to conduct themselves honorably in pursuit of their education. Cheating, plagiarism, and fraud violate ethical codes of conduct and will not be accepted at LHMS and SLHS. The LHMS and SLHS Honor Code conforms to FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities and aligns to the expectations of the International Baccalaureate program.


Students will…

  • Exercise academic honesty in all aspects of their work.
  • Prepare sufficiently for all types of assessments.
  • Seek extra help from teachers.
  • Avoid engaging in cheating, plagiarizing, and lying.
  • Use sources in the prescribed manner.
  • Report any violations of the Honor Code.

Teachers will…

  • Develop, model, and sustain ethical practices within the classroom setting.
  • Report violations to counselors and administrators.
  • Confer with those who violate the Honor Code.
  • Contact student’s parent or guardian regarding a violation.
  • Record a failing grade for the assignment.

Parents will…

  • Discuss the Honor Code with their child to ensure understanding.
  • Encourage their child to maintain high standards with regard to integrity, honesty, and personal responsibility.
  • Support faculty and administration in enforcing the Honor Code.

Administrators will…

  • Ensure that all faculty, students, and parents receive the Honor Code.
  • Help contribute to a school-wide environment that encourages adherence to the Honor Code.
  • Require teachers to enforce the Honor Code.
  • Maintain accurate records of Honor Code violations.
  • Ensure that the Honor Code is being applied consistently throughout the school.

Guidance for students:



  • Trust the value of your own intellect.
  • Undertake research honestly and appropriately credit others for their work.


  • Don't have someone write an assignment for you.
  • Don’t submit assignments (in part or in whole) that you or another person previously submitted.
  • Don't copy ideas, data, or exact wording without citing your source.

Unauthorized Collaboration (Collusion)


  • Do your own thinking and your own work.
  • Actively seek teacher feedback.


  • Don’t collaborate with another student beyond the extent specifically approved by the teacher.

Cheating (Malpractice)


  • Demonstrate your own achievement. Prepare sufficiently for assessments.
  • Be truthful.
  • Do original work for each class.


  • Don’t copy answers from another student; don’t ask another student to do your work for you. Don’t fabricate results. Don’t use electronic or other devices during exams unless instructed to do so.
  • Don’t intentionally deceive.
  • Don’t submit assignments that have been completed for a previous class.

Facilitating Academic Dishonesty


  • Showcase your own abilities.

  • Report violations of academic honesty.

  • Keep assessment items/questions confidential.


  • Don’t allow another student to copy your answers on assignments or exams.

  • Don’t share assessment items/questions with others

Prohibited Use of Technology

Students may not access unauthorized electronic devices during any testing situation including IB, WIDA, PSAT, and SOL exams, as well as classroom environments. If a device is seen or heard at any time (including breaks) it will be collected and considered an Honor Code violation.

Consequences at Langston Hughes Middle School

Violations of the Honor Code accumulate through the years at Langston Hughes Middle School.

First Offense (and all subsequent offenses):

  • Immediate referral to the student’s administrator and counselor for information purposes and to be recorded in their permanent record.
  • Parent will be contacted by teacher regarding the violation.
  • The student must complete the assignment and will receive a two-grade penalty for cheating (e.g., if the student receives a B on the assignment, it will be recorded as a D).

Second Offense:

  • Immediate referral to the student’s administrator for disciplinary action.
  • Conference including the student’s administrator, the teacher, the counselor, the parent, and the student.
  • Student will be assigned one day of Alternative Instructional Arrangement (AIA).
  • If student is a member of any honor society, the administrator will notify the sponsor of the society of the violation.
    • The society will decide consequences for the member according to the by-laws of the society.

Third Offense (and all subsequent offenses):

  • The administrator will notify immediately the student’s parents and suspend the student from school for one day. Alternative discipline may be assigned as well.
  • Conference including the student’s administrator, the teacher, the counselor, the parent, and the student. Consequences for any additional violations of the Honor Code will be discussed at that time.
  • If student is a member of any honor society, the administrator will notify the sponsor of the society of the violation.
    • The society will decide consequences for the member according to the by-laws of the society.

Consequences at South Lakes High School

Violations of the Honor Code accumulate throughout the student’s high school career. First Offense (and all subsequent offenses):

  • Teacher and student complete an honor code referral form. A copy of the form is sent home with the student to be shared with the parent, and a second copy is given to the appropriate administrator for adjudication and action.
  • If a student is in violation, the incident is entered in his/her discipline record.
  • Parent will be contacted by teacher regarding the violation.
  • A grade penalty or forfeiture of credit for the work (“50” for numerical scale, “F” for letter grades) may be applied. 
  • Students who are members of honor societies, SGA, and other academic leadership positions will be suspended from extracurricular participation with the organization for 30 days and placed on probationary status for one calendar year. Should a second violation occur during the probationary period, the student will be removed from the organization for one calendar year from the date of the second violation.

Second Offense:

  • Teacher and student complete the honor code referral form.
  • Immediate referral to the student’s administrator.
  • Conference including the student’s administrator, the teacher, the counselor, the parent, and the student.
  • If a student is a member of an Honor Society, they will lose membership in that Honor Society.
  • If a student holds office, they will be removed from office.
  • Student will be assigned one day of In-school Suspension and incident recorded in the student’s discipline record.

Third Offense (and all subsequent offenses):

  • The administrator will notify immediately the student’s parents and suspend the student from school for one day. Progressive discipline may be assigned as well.
  • Conference including the student’s administrator, the teacher, the counselor, the parent, and the student. Consequences for any additional violations of the Honor Code will be discussed at that time.

The school policy is reviewed annually by the DP coordinator to ensure compliance with county guidelines, and with the school’s honor council to reflect school policy changes.

Download the Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School Academic Honesty Policy document (pdf)

Assessment Policy

Fairfax County Public Schools IB Schools Assessment Policy

The Office of Advanced Academics collaborated with representatives of our IB schools, including IB coordinators, ESOL specialists, and MYP and DP teachers to develop our assessment policy. This is a working document.

Fairfax County Public Schools, a world-class school system, inspires, enables, and empowers students to meet high academic standards, lead ethical lives, and demonstrate responsible citizenship.  FCPS prepares all students for the world of the future by giving them a broad spectrum of opportunities to prepare for education and employment beyond high school.

FCPS’ IB schools serve a variety of diverse communities and schools are accountable for the performance and academic achievement of all of its students.  Coordinators will work with the leadership teams to agree best ways of reporting IB levels of achievement at each school site.

All FCPS measures academic progress through both norm-referenced and criterion (MYP) related assessment practices.   There is continued emphasis on formative and summative practices that allow students to demonstrate their understanding of topics studied.  FCPS has a grading and reporting system that allows for criterion-related scores to be recorded for the MYP; and progress to be recorded and reported for the PYP and DP.  All criteria and required assessments by the IB are a part of each school’s assessment procedures as outlined in the program standard and practices.  This includes the exhibition, personal project and the extended essay. All schools are aligning their IB Programs with the FCPS Portrait of a Graduate student outcomes. 

Access to FCPS IB programs allows for us to raise the bar of achievement for all students and close the achievement gap where possible. Differentiation for all students in FCPS IB Schools is reflected by the students served.  Differentiation can be reflected by:

  • Task-specific rubrics
  • Use of various levels of rubrics and objectives
  • Design of the assessment
  • Accommodations supporting cues and prompts
  • Assessment variations to allow for IEP/504 accommodations
  • Performance tasks
  • The frequency of formative assessment

The local FCPS division policy regarding assessment can be located at:

Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School Statement 

At Hughes and South Lakes High School the IB Learner Profile is central to our vision of developing a community of learners who strive for academic excellence and value diversity, intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and an international understanding for all students.  Our mission is to educate in a learning environment where achievement is a priority and a right for all students.  We do this by using ongoing assessments to drive instruction and effective teaching strategies to address student needs.  We strive to provide a classroom environment that promotes a passion for education and encourages academic success and positive behavior.  

Teachers use both formative and summative assessment to achieve these goals.  The IB Diploma Program provides formal, summative assessments used in determining student qualification for the IB Diploma or Career-related certificate.  All Diploma Program classes use internally assessed components such as essays, portfolios, dossiers, and oral work evaluated by the teacher and moderated by IB examiners.  Students are allowed some choices in their selection of topics and style, but all must comply with the requirements stated in the rubric for that assessment.  Externally assessed components include examination papers, written assignments, Extended Essays, Reflective Project, TOK essays and components of the Group 6 Arts assessment. 

Teachers inform and instruct students in content and process skills needed to be successful in these internal and external summative IB assessments. Our Collaborative Learning Teams meet weekly to discuss, share, plan, pace and develop formative and summative assessments for guiding student learning.  

Formative and summative assessment practices in the DP and MYP programs include: 

  • Limiting formative assessment grades to 10% of a student’s final course grade, minimizing the penalty to students when learning skills and rewarding mastery.
  • Allowing students to retake some summative assessments for an improved grade.
  • Providing a quarterly report card.  Quarter grades, along with a final exam or project, comprise a final course grade.

Teachers are encouraged to develop common assessments when there are multiple sections of a course.  Internal assessment work is evaluated by teachers in the Collaborative Learning Teams when appropriate.  The responsibility for student success is a result of the efforts of all our teachers in our MYP, CP, and DP programs.  All these teachers acknowledge that IB courses are designed to foster higher level thinking skills.  We strive to move students beyond factual recall by engaging them in activities which require them to adapt and apply their learning in new situations. At Hughes M.S. and SLHS: 

  • Every course has a knowledge component, an understanding component and an application component which should fit together seamlessly. 
  • Skill development should be constantly developed in a learning spiral.  Once a skill is learned, it should be reinforced by applications to new situations or material. 
  • The syllabus content of each course is substantial, so it is vital that excellent time management and study habits be developed and strengthened in each course. 
  • Teachers foster small group instruction providing equitable opportunities and supports for all learners. 
  • We believe active engagement AVID strategies like the Cornell note taking system develop thinking and organizational skills that all students need for college and career readiness. 
  • Teachers support interdisciplinary unit study that requires higher-level thinking and transfer of skills and knowledge, leading to better retention and development of critical and creative thinking. 
  • Students engage in inquiry-based lessons that are built on real-world tasks and increase relevancy and student motivation and engagement. 

Teachers must provide a syllabus to all students at the beginning of each year of the course which provides: 

  • Course content as set out in the Course Guide. 
  • An explanation of how rubric scores are used to evaluate work. 
  • Expectations for class participation including absence make up, deadlines, assignment format, and use of special programs including Questia and TurnItIn. 
  • Information about the summative internal and external assessments and their value in the calculation of the final grade for IB and for the FCPS report card grade. 

Teachers are also expected to: 

  • Maintain a Schoology site for the IB class with pertinent information posted frequently communicated with students., including due dates for major assignments including internal and external course components. 
  • Participate in and contribute to the CLT for the course they teach. 
  • Provide timely information to students and parents regarding grades.  
  • Employ program-specific assessment criteria for summative assessments in all programs. 
  • Assess at least 9 pieces of student work per quarter. 
  • Assign and evaluate at least 1 summative assessment per unit. 
  • Employ formative assessment daily during instruction and adjust instruction accordingly. 
  • Analyze formative and summative assessment data, share best practices, and adjust instruction based on data to improve student learning, in collaborative teams.
  • Periodically anchor scoring to standardize assessment of student work and develop interrater reliability, in collaborative teams. 
  • Standardize CP and DP assessment of all IAs and Core components, in collaborative teams.  
  • Use each objective strand at least twice in each year and subject of the MYP. 
  • Standardize assessment of the MYP Personal Project as Personal Project supervisors.

The school policy is reviewed annually by the DP coordinator to ensure compliance with county   guidelines, and by school leadership to reflect school assessment policies.

Download the Fairfax County Public Schools IB Schools Assessment Policy document (pdf)

Language Policy

Fairfax County Public Schools IB Schools Language Policy

The Office of PreK-12 Curriculum and Instruction and the Office of Language Acquisition collaborated with representatives of our IB schools, including IB coordinators, ESOL teachers, English teachers, and world language teachers, to develop our language policy. This is a working document.   

The essence of human interaction is language and communication. The world that our students will encounter as adults will be vastly different from the one we know today. The rapid development of telecommunications will make the ability to communicate in more than one language a necessity. Therefore, it is important to prepare our students for this multilingual environment by ensuring that they are able to function in at least two languages. During the learning process, they will derive the benefits of developing insight into their own language and culture as they learn to communicate with others. 

The primary goals of the language program in Fairfax County Public Schools are to ensure that students: 

  • Communicate in languages other than English 
  • Gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures 
  • Connect with other disciplines and acquire information 
  • Develop insight into the nature of language and culture 
  • Participate in multicultural communities at home and around the world 

These goals include a comprehensive focus for instruction that takes language learners beyond the traditional confines of the classroom. In the world language curriculum, students will not only learn to communicate with native speakers of the language, but they will do so with the cultural knowledge necessary to interact in an appropriate way. 

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) recognizes the diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds of our students and their families and is committed to providing an appropriate education for each of our students: supporting language acquisition, sustaining the mother tongue, and requiring English language arts instruction.  As a district, over 20 percent of students are English learners, although that percentage is considerably higher in many of our eight diploma schools (seven of which also offer the MYP) and seven MYP middle schools.  In the fall of 2013, FCPS launched its first PYP Program at one elementary school, which will hopefully pave the way for more PYPs in the future.  FCPS supports language minority families by providing adult English language instruction, resources in multiple languages, and translation services. Although the primary cultural home for many of our students is a language other than English, some do not have the linguistic structure; the students can speak, but not read and write fluently in their home language.  We offer language instruction to these students with courses in Language A2 when appropriate.   

FCPS also supports students with formal language instruction in other languages by offering credit by examination in 18 different languages.   Students must demonstrate, both orally and in writing, that they have reached the intermediate range of proficiency as described by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) K-12 Performance Guidelines.   

Student Achievement Goals 

 The IB program supports the Fairfax County Public Schools newly adopted student achievement goals.  Two of these goals are directly related to our language philosophy: 

  • All students will communicate in at least two languages. This goal has two components: native English-speaking students will become competent in communicating in at least one other language in addition to English and English Language Learners (ELLs) of other world languages will become proficient communicators in English.   
  • Students will understand the interrelationship and interdependence of the countries and cultures of the world

It is also our goal that all students will take at least one advanced academic course (IB) before graduation; the IB program in FCPS is an open access program.  Our focus is on closing the achievement gap for all students, including our under-represented minority populations as well as our English Language Learners.   

FCPS Language Curriculum 

Language A 

English is the primary Language A instruction in FCPS.  Our IB schools have worked diligently to build strong vertical articulation to prepare students to complete their Language A studies successfully.  In addition to English language instruction, FCPS supports reading and writing across the curriculum; we believe that it is the responsibility of all teachers to improve our students’ ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.  In the diploma program, schools have the choice of offering English A1 at both the higher and standard levels.  FCPS has been monitoring the new Group 1 curriculum to insure a smooth transition. We feel strongly that the new Language and Literature courses have the potential of providing increased access to our students, including English Language Learners and students with special needs. 

Fairfax County provides additional support in English language acquisition for our English Language Learners (ELLs).  The state of Virginia has adopted the World-Class Instructional 

Design and Assessment (WIDA) as its assessment for students’ English language proficiency.  Students assessed as entering, beginning, developing, or expanding receive classroom instruction in English for speakers of other languages.  Students may access Transitional English 9 as a bridge to the general English classroom.  English teachers also coordinate with ESOL teachers to provide appropriate differentiation in the English Language Arts classroom.   FCPS teachers are encouraged to give students the opportunity to reflect and communicate in their mother tongue as a scaffold to understanding.  We believe that allowing students to process the content in their native language is effective in building knowledge.   

FCPS also supports students in their mother tongue by offering the option of Language A1 self-taught.  Individual schools create the most appropriate course of study for their students with the guidance of student services and the IB coordinator.   

Language B 

The content of the World Languages Program of Studies is organized around seven essential strands of language development and application for students: Person-to-Person Communication; 

Listening and Reading for Understanding; Oral and Written Presentation; Cultural Perspectives, 

Practices, and Products; Making Connections through Language; Cultural and Linguistic 

Comparisons; and Communication across Communities. The two strands for Latin in lieu of the Person-to-Person strand are Reading for Understanding and Using Oral and Written Language for Understanding. 

In order to support our student achievement goal that all students will be able to communicate in two languages, FCPS continues to expand its world languages program, especially in elementary school.  In the FCPS partial immersion program, started in 1989, students learn mathematics, science, and health through the medium of a world language (French, German, Japanese or Spanish). Half the school day is spent learning math, science and health in the target language. Students receive instruction in English for language arts and social studies during the other half of the day. The FCPS program model is based on the highly successful immersion programs that were implemented in many school districts throughout Canada and the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. The uniqueness of an immersion program is that the world language is not taught as a subject. Instead, the language becomes the language of instruction for part of the curriculum. Children then acquire the second language through interesting and meaningful activities in the language as they learn the concepts of the various subjects included in the elementary curriculum. Research studies show that learning a second language at an early age has a positive effect on intellectual growth and leaves students with more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and improved listening skills.  The IB program builds on the partial immersion program by allowing students to continue their study of the language in high school; Spanish immersion students may choose to study Spanish A2.  A limited number of students have been able to study French A2.  Individual schools adopt their language B choices to meet the needs of their immersion students.  For example, if a boundary change brings an influx of students from a partial immersion program in a language not offered at the high school, the language will be introduced to the IB program.   

FCPS has also introduced the FLES program (Foreign Language in the Elementary School), beginning with first grade in selected schools.  FLES is an approach to language learning that allows students to develop basic communicative skills in a language while reinforcing and enriching content in other disciplines. The FCPS FLES model develops students' language proficiency by providing language instruction that supports the concepts taught in the subject areas at the respective grade level. Generally, programs have 30 minutes of instruction two to three times per week, which is articulated through middle and high school. FCPS FLES model is based on the research that shows that students are not only able to learn but are also highly engaged in learning content through the target language.  In addition, the culture of the target language is integrated into instruction in support of our student achievement goals.  FLES is being introduced progressively starting with the lower grades and eventually will become available to K-6, including our middle years sixth graders.    

In our MYP middle schools, students choose a world language for instruction beginning in the seventh grade.  Most seventh-grade students begin their study with a semester of instruction presented in a sustained delivery model over the course of an academic year.  Eighth grade students continue their course of study, receiving high school credit for successfully completing a year of instruction at the high school level.  Students in the IB diploma program who were not a part of the Middle Years Program are counseled to begin their study of a second language no later than eighth grade.  Students who do not have the opportunity to study a second language by ninth grade (i.e., transfer from another school district) may study language at the standard level; students with three or fewer years of a language may study language ab initio.     

Each school has the option to choose its world languages for instruction.  Schools in FCPS currently offer language instruction in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Classical Languages.  Our world languages program is fluid, recognizing changes in the global community.  FCPS continues to offer European languages and Latin, but we are also including more opportunities to study Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic.  In adding or changing a language for study, schools usually survey the community, including parents and students.  Changes are also instituted when necessary to allow students to continue their studies from elementary and middle school.  

South Lakes High School and Langston Hughes Middle School 

Reston, Virginia, home of Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School (SLHS), is a planned community purposefully inclusive of a wide spectrum of socio-economic levels.  Our students reflect our community’s diversity with students from 75 countries and 66 languages spoken in their families at SLHS and students from 55 countries with 42 languages spoken at home at LHMS.  Our young people embrace each other’s cultures and cultivate mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s differences despite our steadily increasing overall population of 2400 students at SLHS and over 1000 at LHMS.  At SLHS, 11.59% of our students are English Language Learners, 17.7% receive special education services, and 32.24% receive free or reduced fees (SY21-22).  At LHMS, 13% of our students are English Language Learners, 15% receive special education services, and 35% receive free or reduced fees. We ensure excellent communication with all our students and their families by providing part-time Parent Liaisons who speak Spanish and Arabic and hosting Hispanic Parent Information Nights.  Interpreters of other languages are available from the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) resources.  Most publications including information about our IB program are available in translation.   

As a highly diverse school, SLHS and LHMS take great pride in the rich cultural and linguistic backgrounds of our students and their families.  We acknowledge human commonality, diversity, and multiple perspectives so that our teaching and learning addresses the diversity of student language needs. We seek to provide an education that combines intellectual challenges while supporting language acquisition in English and preserving our students’ knowledge of their mother tongue. We encourage all students to learn and experience success in a second language; to that end, we provide a foundation for the lifelong process of language acquisition since all teachers are responsible for language development.  


AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is an elective course at both SLHS and LHMS with an application process that provides academic support to middle-achieving students taking a rigorous course load in preparation for applying to college.  Many AVID students will be the first in their families to attend a university.  AVID offers organizational and study support as well as opportunities to explore college and career options. 


Our school has a dynamic and supportive program for English Language Learners (ELL).  

Students enrolled in ELL classes are served by 7 dedicated ESOL teachers plus additional sections of reduced ratio classes taught by general education teachers at SLHS and 4 teachers at LHMS.  The ELL teachers, English teachers, and a variety of other teachers actively support the IB program and ELL students at SLHS.   

Language A 

English is the primary language of instruction at SLHS and LHMS.  In the Diploma program, English A is offered at the higher level.  Across the curriculum all teachers are responsible to improve our students’ ability to communicate orally and in writing.   

There is no formal recommendation or application for students wishing to enroll in the Middle Years Program, IB English Literature HL or the IB English Language and Literature SL course. The decision to enroll in an IB English course is based on success in 9th and 10th grade, and with feedback from the student, teacher, counselor, and parents or guardians. Students who also have the option of taking a “Dual-Enrollment” English course for senior year, receiving 6 credits from Northern Virginia Community College.  

Students who qualify are offered the option of Language A self-taught.  These students may have been schooled in other another language before arriving at SLHS or may have been involved in FCPS immersion programs.   

Languages Offered  

Our World Languages Program supports the goals of FCPS and IB.  We strive to educate students in a non-native language and culture to make them knowledgeable and active members of a global society.  Our programs develop writing and speaking skills in the second language.   

Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School offer Spanish and French. In addition, South Lakes High School offers German, Latin, and Japanese. Hughes students in year 3 may attend SLHS to take German 1 or Japanese 1. South Lakes High School offers Japanese because some of our students come from Rachel Carson Middle School which has a continuation of a Japanese immersion program; in addition, Langston Hughes offers a continuation of the Spanish immersion program. Students choose which language to pursue throughout the MYP and DP program with the goal of attaining proficiency and fluency. Units are designed to blend MYP aims and objectives with the Virginia Standards of Learning. Emphasis is placed on listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Formative and summative assessments are used to enhance teaching and evaluate student progress.  

At SLHS, we offer Spanish, French, and German the Standard and Higher Levels and Japanese at the Standard Level.  Most students come to us with level 1 of their language completed.  We offer the ab initio option in Spanish, French, and German for those students who have not had a language class prior to grade 9.  Language students arriving from schools outside FCPS are evaluated for proper placement in the program.   

English Language Learners (ELLs)  

Using the Home Language Survey form that is issued to all students in the school system, English language learners are identified, as well as mother tongue languages.  As required by federal and state law, the WIDA –ACCESS Placement Test is administered once a year to each student whose parents have reported on the Home Language Survey that their home language is not English. These students receive differentiated instruction that is modified to meet their needs. Continued monitoring of ELL students occurs until the student scores a 4.8 or higher on the placement test and is successful in the classroom with no assistance.  

To understand the academic challenges faced by ELLs and better meet their instructional needs, SLHS provides administrators, teachers, librarians, technical and other school-based staff with annual professional development.  Central to this training are effective use of accommodations in teaching/learning content material to ELL students and the role of differentiation in instruction. 

The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program at LHMS and SLHS makes language central to all learning and teaches language through the content of the subject of instruction. At LHMS and SLHS the role of all teachers, not just language teachers, is to facilitate interpersonal and global communication.  Our teachers employ best professional practices and actively collaborate across disciplines to facilitate and enrich the learning experience for our students.   

Students and parents are encouraged to continue development of the mother tongue at home where possible.  With parents and peers, students can maintain their knowledge of their mother tongue.  ELL teachers provide help.  At school, we allow and encourage students to process information in their mother tongue but ask for output in English, according to research-based best practices.  For MYP and DP, the mother tongue of the students can be supported by placement in one of the foreign language courses offered.  

Mother Tongue Support and Language and Literature Support  

Students whose mother tongue is not English are screened by a language proficiency test 

(ACCESS) developed by WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment) 

Consortium. Students receive additional support as determined by the English Language Learners department. Resources available to these students include parent sessions presented in the native language and language dictionaries. Some peer tutoring is offered through Spanish Honors Society for students whose mother tongue is Spanish.  Students are encouraged to maintain their cultural identity and native language while learning to speak and write English. 

Structure:  Beginning ESOL 

The goal of the ESOL program is to promote proficiency in all five areas of language:  reading, writing, listening, speaking, and media literacy.  Students in the ESOL program at SLHS are grouped by proficiency level rather than by age.  At the beginning levels (1, 2) ESOL students receive most instruction in self-contained classes.  In addition, students receive instruction in math either by ESOL teachers (in remedial cases) or the Math Department.  At LHMS, all ELLs take PE.  Beginning students at SLHS may take PE 9 or PE 10 (though it is not required for Level 1 students because of the linguistic challenges of the health curriculum).  Schedule permitting, beginning ESOL students may take electives such as art, music, or JROTC.  Ninth graders with gaps in home language literacy take the Literacy Essentials course which provides direct remediation in all four language domains (reading, writing, speaking, and listening).  Beginning students also take an ESOL Strategies for Success course as a recommended elective to help them acclimate to the rigors of high school instruction in the United States.  

Intermediate Level 

At the intermediate level, as ESOL students become more proficient enough to participate in a classroom with standard subject curricula, they are gradually integrated into mainstream academic courses.  At this stage in their academic development students are supported by sheltered classes in Biology and Social Studies.  These courses use modified texts, materials, and language appropriate to learners’ competencies to prepare students for the Standards of Learning (SOL) exams in these disciplines.  

Advanced Level 

ESOL Level 4 provides support for learning in the content classes and represents an additional English credit toward graduation for ESOL students in grades 10-12.  Although ESOL students receive less support at advanced proficiency levels, the ESOL and content teachers continue to monitor their progress and share strategies to meet individual student needs.  SLHS ESOL and content teachers are continually experimenting with strategies and accommodations to enhance learning for the ESOL/ELL population. 

Additional Electives 

The World Languages department offers a Spanish class for Heritage Speakers, an excellent opportunity for mother tongue literacy support for our Spanish-speaking ESOL students. 

Strategies for Success is offered for newcomers to support their transition to schooling in the United States. 

FCPS offers interested ELL students the opportunity to earn up to two language credits by examination.  Many of our students who are proficient in languages not offered by the school take advantage of this option.  

Literacy and Remediation 

LHMS and SLHS each employ a reading specialist to work closely with all students needing literacy remediation.  LHMS provides a dedicated class period for remediation for all students in all content areas to work with teachers throughout the building.  

Testing and Assessment 

ESOL students are tested annually using the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) proficiency test.  In addition, the use of common assessments and SMARTR goals in making data-based instructional decisions is an evolving tool in our promotion of second language acquisition.  With the implementation of the WIDA English language proficiency test, the ESOL program has developed common formative and summative assessments that stress academic language and content vocabulary. 

The ESOL Department works together as a Collaborative Learning Team (CLT) to provide common assessments that both mirror the expectations and rubrics of the WIDA exam, as well as preparing students in general for skills needed to succeed in the next level of ESOL.  

The ESOL Department also works closely with the Assessment Coach and content departments to provide testing accommodations and strategies for working with ESOL/ELL populations in mainstream classes.   By raising teacher awareness of the challenges faced by ELL/ESOL students and ensuring that eligible students have appropriate testing accommodations, we hope to maximize student success in the classroom, on EOC SOL exams, and also on IB examinations.  

Inclusiveness and Integration 

The ESOL Program at LHMS and SLHS is a vital part of our profile as an IB World school.  The result of efforts outlined above is the inclusion of the ESOL/ELL population in school activities and programs, including honors and IB courses, and the IB MYP.  It is our hope that like all FCPS students, our ELL graduates will leave SLHS having acquired both the linguistic ability to communicate effectively as well as the cultural knowledge needed to engage and interact in society as good world citizens. 

Language B Course Sequence Guidelines 

In order for FCPS students to reach high levels of proficiency and success in IB world language courses, the following guidelines are being provided regarding the Language B course sequence.  The goal is for all students to complete a level 3 language course before taking IB 1.  It is not recommended for a student to skip a level unless the student demonstrates proficiency in that level.  

Many students begin Language B study in middle school resulting in the following high school course sequence options

  • 9th grade – level 2 or level 3 
  • 10th grade – level 3 or level 4 
  • 11th grade – IB 1(provides preparation for SL or HL in year 2) 
  • 12th grade – IB 2 (SL or HL) 

If a student does not begin Language B until the 9th grade the following options are recommended in order for the student to take level 3 in 10th grade: 

  • Online Spanish 2 
  • Approved non-FCPS online level 2 language course 
  • Approved two semesters of college level 2 language course (Ex. NVCC) 
  • Private tutoring for the level 2 language and common assessment score of 80+ to be placed in level 3 in 10th grade.  Note: FCPS has an online tutoring site for French and Spanish that is free of charge. 

Best Practices 

  • Ab initio is a two-year course sequence designed for students that lacked the opportunity to take a Language B prior to 11th grade.  It is not recommended for students to take two years of one language followed by two years of a second language and then take ab initio since the student had the opportunity to continue with their first language B, but chose not to.  
  • Students should take both years of the IB World Language sequence – IB 1 and IB 2.  It is not recommended for a student to skip IB 1.  
  • Following IB rules, it is recommended that students take IB 1 in 11th grade and IB 2 in 12th grade. Students that complete a level 3 language in 9th grade should be strongly encouraged to take level 4 in 10th grade and then pick up the IB DP Language B course sequence in 11th grade. 
  • If a student is given permission to take IB SL 1 in grade 10 and IB SL 2 in grade 11 it is recommended that the student/parent sign a document indicating they understand the following:   If Language B SL is completed by the 11th grade, IB HL 2 can be taken in 12th grade; for Diploma candidates, HL exams must be taken at the end of 12th grade; and it is strongly recommended that students have a world language course in 12th grade. 

The school policy is reviewed  annually by the DP coordinator to ensure compliance with county guidelines, and by teachers in the English, World Languages and Special Education Departments.

Download the Fairfax County Public Schools IB Schools Language Policy document (pdf)

IB Examination Information

IB Diploma Program Curriculum

IB Course Scheduling Information for 10th Grade Students

IB Acronyms and Vocabulary

Summary of IB Courses and Assessments

FCPS Curricular Transfer Information

FCPS Student Transfer Information

Diploma Program Subject Summaries

DP language and literature subject group

  • English A: literature HL 
  • English A: language and literature SL  

DP language acquisition subject group 

  • Spanish, French, German SL & HL 
  • Japanese SL 

DP individuals and societies subject group

  • Business management SL/HL 
  • History SL/HL 
  • Psychology SL & HL  
  • World religions SL

DP sciences subject group

  • Biology SL/HL 
  • Biology (First Exams 2025) SL & HL 
  • Chemistry SL/HL 
  • Chemistry (First Exams 2025) SL & HL 
  • Computer Science SL/HL 
  • Design technology SL/HL 
  • Environmental systems and societies* SL 
  • Physics SL 
  • Physics (First Exams 2025) SL 

DP mathematics subject group

  • Mathematics: analysis and approaches SL & HL 
  • Mathematics: applications and interpretation SL & HL 

DP arts subject group

The full IB Diploma core

Research Resources

IB Program Research