Nov. 3 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

Dear APS Families,

As we begin the second quarter via distance learning instruction, the Department of Teaching and Learning invites you to learn about resources and strategies for support special education and Gifted students and English Learners. This message also includes information about middle school CTE classes. These biweekly messages are designed to keep families informed and up-to-date during distance learning.

Special Education
Students participating in Level 1 will be returning to school on Wed, Nov. 4. The students will be engaging in distance learning with adult support in APS school buildings.

Crisis Prevention and Intervention (CPI) training is being provided to parents through the Parent Resource Center (PRC) on Mon, Nov. 10. This training is in response to families inquiring about strategies to support challenging and non-compliant behaviors exhibited by their children within the home setting. Understanding how adult responses and approaches to behavior displayed by children is a key factor in preventing and de-escalating undesired behavior.

October was Dyslexia Awareness Month. The Office of Special Education (OSE), English Language Arts (ELA) and the Arlington Tiered System of Support (ATSS) along with the PRC collaborated to offer seven virtual sessions for families. There were more than 650 registrants for the seven dyslexia conference sessions. As a culmination, a video discussing future steps for APS was created providing students with a structured literacy approach.

OSE also supported Project Core for families: The AsTech and Autism/Low-Incidence Disability Team are partnering with PRC to offer a 12-week Project Core series for parents of students with complex needs who are emerging in communication and literacy skills. PRC adapted and delivered companion guides to 38 families.

Transition Series: APS Transition Services/PRC/PEP are offering a monthly transition series. The Oct. 28 session included an overview of transition supports within APS and the community. There were over 50 participants.

The PRC and Arlington SEPTA hosted its Fall Parent Liaisons Meeting on October 21. There are presently liaisons serving 33 APS schools/programs.

English Learners (EL)
English learner instruction in APS focuses on English language development and content attainment in tandem. As ELs are learning their grade level standards (The Virginia Standards of Learning), they are also learning to read, write, speak and listen in English. The English language development standards (WIDA Standards), focus on the language of Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science.

At the elementary level, whether a student participates in distance learning for the entire year or opts into the hybrid learning model, they will be taught by their grade level teacher in addition to an EL teacher. Both teachers focus on the content as well as the language. However, the grade level teacher mostly focuses on the content and teaches it in a way that ELs can understand. The EL teacher uses that content learning and focuses on the specifics of reading, writing, speaking and listening. The two teachers work collaboratively to help the ELs move through the proficiency levels in order to become English proficient.

At the secondary level, ELs receive their English language development in either a self-contained (sheltered) class with an EL teacher or in a co-taught class with an EL and content teacher. In the self-contained classes, the EL teacher teaches the content with a strong focus on language development. In the co-taught classes, the content teacher provides scaffolded instruction about the content, and the EL teacher focuses on English language development.

Ultimately, the goal for English learners is to learn the content and develop their English to the point of proficiency. If you have questions about your student’s EL instruction or their language proficiency, please contact your EL teacher. You can always contact the Bilingual Family Liaison at your school as well, who will connect you to the appropriate teacher(s).

Gifted Services Virginia Department Of Education (VDOE) Summer Residential Governor’s School and World Language Academies
Applications are now available for
Summer Residential Governor’s Schools for current grade 10-11 students. The Summer Residential Governor’s Schools provide gifted high school students with intensive educational experiences in visual and performing arts; humanities; mathematics, science, and technology; or through mentorships in marine science, medicine and health sciences, or engineering.

Each Summer Residential Governor’s School focuses on one special area of interest. Students live on a college or university campus for up to four weeks each summer. During this time, students are involved in classroom and laboratory work, field studies, research, individual and group projects and performances, and seminars with noted scholars, visiting artists, and other professionals. In the three mentorships, students are selected to work side-by-side with research scientists, physicians, and a variety of other professionals. A director and a student-life staff provide supervision of students 24 hours a day, throughout the program.

The APS Timelines for the Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) applications/auditions and the Academic applications are below:

APS Summer Residential Governor’s School Visual and Performing Arts Timeline
APS Summer Residential Governor’s School Academic Timeline 

This year, students will submit their information electronically (the specific links and deadlines are in each APS timeline above).

New This Year: Since we cannot hold live auditions in November, students will need to submit a video of their specialty area following the VDOE guidelines (please see APS timeline for more information) and will also have a virtual interview with judges.

Please contact your schools resource teacher for the gifted (RTG) if you are interested in applying:

Applications are now available for Summer Residential Governor’s Schools World Language Academies. Since 1987, VDOE has sponsored the Governor’s World Language Academies, summer residential programs for Virginia’s most motivated and talented world language students. As of 2020, more than 9,600 students have completed one of the programs. The 2021 Governor’s Summer Residential World Language Academies will include full-immersion academies in French, German and Spanish; a partial-immersion Japanese Academy; and a Latin Academy.  Students interested in applying to World Language academies should contact their world language department heads.

Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted
In addition to following the Gifted Services Twitter handle @APSGifted, families interested in seeing the impact of collaboration between RTGs and cluster teachers can follow their RTG’s Twitter handle found on our Gifted Services site here. Check out the collaborations happening to challenge advanced learners in a variety of content areas throughout the county:



































Dorothy Hamm MS











At the high school level, RTGs support students in career and college aspirations. Wendy Maitland, RTG, shares how this is happening virtually between Wakefield alumns and current students.











Family Engagement
One of the roles of RTGs is ongoing outreach and connection to families. Many schools use innovative ways to to increase family engagement and incorporating  strategies from our Critical and Creative Thinking Framework  Here are a few examples:

At Arlington Science Focus, families are invited to do an October STEM challenge on SeeSaw.




At McKinley, each Monday there is a new Critical and Creative Family Edition Choice Board.











The middle school Computer Science and Robotics students will be issued MacBooks to ensure equity in accessing these high school credit courses. Both Computer Science and Robotics traditionally use Career and Technical Education high end computers that are part of the computer science and robotics lab spaces in each of our middle schools. Despite our best efforts, the iPad platform is unable to meet all the instructional needs of students enrolled in computer science or robotics. By issuing MacBooks, our computer science students will now have access to the software necessary to prepare for industry credentialing tests, a hallmark of Career and Technical Education. By issuing MacBooks to robotic students, they will be able to access various software programs and utilize the software to program peripherals including robots, breadboards and other hardware required as part of their course competencies and in preparation for industry credentialing.