10 FAQs about the Metro Silver Line

For those of us who live in the Northwestern end of Fairfax County, it will be very nice to take the METRO to Washington, D.C. (and all the way to Largo, MD – where the Redskins play!) using the brand-new Silver Line.

Introducing: The Silver Line

This cool video details the locations of each of the stations in Phase 1, and the many fun places that can be reached by traveling on the Silver Line.

The Silver Line of the Metro connects the Northwestern suburbs of Washington D.C. (in Fairfax County and Loudoun County), and eventually the Washington Dulles International Airport with downtown DC and the Maryland suburbs via rail.

Silver Line Route map courtesy of DullesMetro.com


The Silver Line will start a few miles west of Dulles Airport and share the Orange line rails of the Metro in Falls Church.  To accomplish this, the Silver line is being built in two phases: Continue Reading…

Why many FCPS school assignments are incorrect

Last week, one of our readers asked a very important question.  She wanted to understand why it was that a home for sale that she really liked had “funky” school assignments.

Home for Sale in Woodson HS boundary

Home for Sale in Woodson HS boundary

In her particular situation, the house that she was considering was in the Woodson High School boundary (she used the Home by School interactive app* to find it).

Once she found the house, she double-checked the schools on the home listing with the official boundary system at the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) website [1].

She double-checked the official FCPS school assignments

When she confirmed what the official FCPS school assignments were for that house, she found that while the assigned high school was Woodson, and the middle school was Frost MS (in the Woodson Pyramid),  the elementary school was not in the Woodson Pyramid.

Instead, the elementary school assigned to that house belonged to the Fairfax Pyramid.

Our reader was, rightfully, confused and wondered what that meant in the long run

  • Could it be that the assignments were incorrect?
  • Or perhaps that the middle and high schools would be re-assigned in the future to the Fairfax Pyramid?

Continue Reading…

News: Full Day Mondays for Fairfax County Schools

Last week, the Fairfax County Public Schools Board voted to eliminate “Half-day Mondays”, which means that elementary students throughout Fairfax County will now attend school for the same number of hours every day of the week.

The Board also voted to change the master calendar

Aztec Calendar

Do you think that the Aztecs had a master school calendar?

The new master calendar will allow for up to 13 snow days without having to “make them up” at the end of the year, as well as a full two-week winter vacation.  This new calendar will be implemented across all elementary, middle and high schools.

These changes will be implemented this coming school year (2014-2015)

To learn more about and to access the new calendar, visit:


* Aztec Calendar photo by Michael McCarty on flickr

Last chance to vote for Full Day Mondays for Fairfax County Schools

Not too long ago, we wrote about the 3 Reasons Why Loudoun County Schools are better than Fairfax County Schools [1].

Vote before June 23rd, 2014

Vote before June 23rd, 2014

In the article, we described how Molly’s family (our clients), had chosen to live in Loudoun County because of one main reason:

  • Full Day Mondays

Since Molly and Dan work full time, they could really see the benefit to having a consistent schedule all week long for their son, Ike, which they couldn’t get if he attended Fairfax County Public Schools.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) currently offers half-day Mondays

All Elementary schools in Fairfax County currently have a shortened school day on Mondays.

For example, the schedule for Wolftrap Elementary School:

  • Monday:  8:40 am to 12:50pm,
  • Tuesday – Friday:  8:40 am to 3:20 pm

For many families, the shortened schedule on Mondays represents a logistical problem, especially when both parents work outside the home.

The good news is that the School Board for Fairfax County is considering changing the schedule to allow for full day Mondays possibly starting as early as the fall of 2014. Continue Reading…

How Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates are different from SOL scores

Last week, I was talking to a new client, Betty. She was asking me about how we rate schools.  I told her that we use the SOL passing rates to help our readers compare schools.

Students take Standards of Learning (SOL) tests

Students take Standards of Learning (SOL) tests

She was satisfied with the answer, but she went one step further. She asked about exactly what SOL passing rates were, and how they related to SOL scores, which she had heard of from her friends with kids in school.

So let’s start from what Standards of Learning (SOL) are:

What are Standards of Learning (SOL)?

The Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) are standardized tests that are administered to students starting in 3rd grade and through high school.  These tests cover subjects such as English, mathematics, science, and history [1].

The SOL tests are meant to measure how well the students are learning throughout the State of Virginia.

To measure how well students are learning, the schools and their corresponding districts provide each test’s result up to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). The VDOE  compiles the results and publishes them as scores and passing rates.

What is an SOL score?

Each SOL test is made up of about 35-50 items or questions.   To grade the test, a score is calculated based on each student’s number of correct answers.

This score is reflected on a scale of  0-600 and it’s called the “SOL Scaled Score”.

The minimum scaled score to “pass” the test is 400.  So let’s see what a “pass rate” is: Continue Reading…

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