Superintendent's Advisory Council on Instruction (SACI): Thursday November 18, 2021, 7 p.m.

Specialty and CTE presentations will be available on the SACI website.

Welcome-Mrs. Vanessa Olson, Chair, SACI

Thank you for helping make PWCS better. October minutes were posted on the website; approved as written. Please place any questions in chat.

Specialty Programs-Karima Wesselhoft, Supervisor, Advanced Academic & Specialty Programs

PWCS Specialty Programs is the website, and Karima's podcast is at Press Play Prince William Podcast. Specialty programs focus on career exploration, subject area concentration, and/or post-secondary preparation. There are programs as ES, MS, and HS levels, with transfer, transport, and site-based opportunities. The only merit-based programs are fine and performing arts, pre-governor's school program, and the Governor's School program at Innovation Park. The rest of the programs are interest based, open to students with core academic and behavioral good standing. Transfer programs are ones where a student transfers to the specialty school, transport program students spend part of the day at their base school, then are transported to the specialty program for part of the day, and site-based programs take place at the geographically assigned school. Create a list of what the student is interested in-what they do when you don't tell them what to do. Research your neighborhood school-see what they have to offer. Research their website. It's easier to attend your base school. Then research programs and program locations. Think about academics and logistics-getting students to and from school, after school programs, etc. List the options your student is interested in, and start prioritizing. Figure out what the programs offer and how it impacts their class schedule (especially at the high school level). How does what the program offer differ from the base school? Due to the required courses, there's only one slot in the standard student's 9th grade schedule. Most specialty programs use that elective slot for a specialty course. 10th grade again tends to have one elective slot that specialty programs will use. 11th grade usually has 2 elective slots, and 12th grade having 3-in specialty programs, most of those slots will be taken up by specialty program courses. Most specialty programs serve a specific region in the county (usually east or west), with a few only having one program in the county. Transportation is NOT guaranteed for specialty programs. For transfer students, there are express bus stops outside the base school boundaries, often at other schools or other safe areas. It is the parent's responsibility to get students to and from express stops. For a base school, bus stops will be near home-express stops may not be very close. After school activity buses are often not available for transfer students. High school families should take VHSL/athletic eligibility into consideration-eligibility is determined in 9th grade. If a student changes schools in 10th or 11th grade, they would have to request a waiver to be VHSL eligible. Without a waiver, students have to wait 365 days to be eligible. Elementary programs include IB Primary Years Program (PYP), World Languages (French and Spanish), and Traditional School (grades 1-8). Applications are within the portal. If programs have more applicants than slots (such as the traditional schools), eligible students that applied will be selected by lottery. MS programs include IB Middle Years Program, World Languages, Math and Science, Traditional Schools, and Same Gender (for the core subjects). At the high school level, there are dozens of specialty programs, including many CTE. All PWCS high schools offer advanced courses including AP, 12/13 offer dual enrollment, and all send students to elite universities. All specialty program applications are due by February 1st and completed online. Applications opened November 1. You create a family account, create your student, and apply to each program (ranking priority).


  • The high school course catalog is the best place for information on courses offered at each high school. The school website will usually post sample course schedules. Keep in mind some courses are not offered every year, so that information may be available from the school. It is important for students to work with their school counselor on their academic career plan. Naviance will also be a good source for information.
  • Dual enrollment is offered at 12 of 13 high schools, mostly with NVCC, though some courses with Shenandoah. There are also some early college courses which don't count towards high school credits but will count towards an associate's. The HS course catalog has information on dual credit (like AP and IB) and dual enrollment options.
  • Programs notify the students who got in starting in mid-February.
  • Don't apply counting on express bus transportation-the stops don't always happen and you have to be prepared to provide full transportation.
  • Traditional Schools have higher behavioral standards and require uniforms.
  • Yes, students can start IB in high school and do not have to have started earlier.
  • The CFPA at Colgan program applications are due mid-December due to the audition scheduling process.
  • There are videos on the specialty program website about available options, and on the application process.
  • CTE and specialty programs are not there so students can transfer after they start high school to select where to play sports. The county and VHSL are cracking down.
  • SIGNET (gifted program) and special education services follow the student, whatever the specialty program.
  • If a student is in IB in middle school, they have to apply to the IB program for high school if they plan to continue with the program, even if your local HS has the IB program.
  • The only schools that give priority for siblings to get into the same school are Pennington and Porter.

CTE-Doug Wright, Supervisor, Career and Technical Education (CTE)

Keep in mind that if your student transfers and participates in athletics or extracurricular activities, it can be a real challenge to manage transportation. Also keep in mind some students do not do as well switching to a new cohort, away from the other students they have known up to then. Don't think of the specialty and CTE programs as this OR that, students often combine courses from programs. There are 8 big CTE program areas, with 130+ courses at HS level and 10 at MS level. PWCS is the largest system with PLTW programs, which helps introduce many students to engineering. Business & Information Technology (BIT) is the largest CTE program area. It's all about helping students find their passion and find what's next. There are 13 four-year CTE transfer programs. Some programs have versions on east and west ends of the council (automotive technology at Hylton and Osbourn Park; and aviation maintenance at Unity Reed and Woodbridge). CTE programs can be for students looking to head directly into the workforce, and for students looking to head to secondary education. Students in the electricity program, for instance, can be students heading directly into the workforce, or students looking to study electrical engineering at a university. Consider CTE programs as ways to help students find their passion and career, not just a job. For programs where the specialty courses don't start in 9th grade, they will often keep cohorts that will head into those courses together for their core courses. Some programs do go to lottery due to there being more interest than slots available-be careful to choose your first choice wisely. There are partial-day transport programs where they take core courses at their base school and do any extracurricular activities at their base school. Those open to 11th & 12th grades are Cosmetology and Culinary Arts, and Firefighting and Practical Nursing open to 12th graders. Patriot HS's Culinary Arts program we already know will be closed to transfers for next year due to the number of students interested that with Patriot as their base school and due to school overcrowding. The Firefighting program is every other day a full day at the firefighting academy in Nokesville, with every other day at their base school. They can graduate HS as a certified Firefighter 1. Firefighting is 3 high school credits-so even though it's only one year, students have to plan ahead to have room in their schedule for those courses. There are similar considerations with all of the transport programs. Transfer program applications are due February 1st. Transport program applications are due March 15th. JROTC falls under CTE and is available at 9 schools. PWCS does not allow transfer to schools for branch-specific JROTC programs-if your base school offers JROTC, that is the program you may attend. If your school does not offer JROTC, you can apply to transfer. CTE certifications are available for every CTE high school class offered in PWCS. CTE offers 22 dual enrollment courses, which are free college credits. PWCS Work-Based Learning can help students get experience in their areas of interest before leaving high school. All middle schools have Career Investigations in 7th grade. Most middle schools offer CTE courses in other areas. All high schools offer 11 or more CTE courses in a variety of CTE areas. CTE is hands-on, project-based, real-world learning.

Please help people learn how many options are available in PWCS. So many people just are not aware.

PWCS Strategic Plan Feedback-Ken Bassett, Director of Student Learning

We are helping increase organizational coherence, which is crucial for such a large system. We will be helping provide input on instructional matters. The plan is organized around 4 commitment statements. Under that, there are stated objectives. Within those are goals. Are the goals we have picked sufficient to meet the objectives? We will answer polls to indicate how much we believe they meet those objectives. Then we can offer specific suggestions and feedback.

  • Commitment 1 - Learning and Achievement for All.
    • Objective 1.1: PWCS will provide equitable opportunities for all students to achieve at high levels.
    • Objective 1.2: PWCS will prepare all students for post-secondary education and the workforce.
    • Objective 1.3: PWCS will prepare all staff members to support and challenge all students.
  • Commitment 2 - Positive Climate and Culture
    • Objective 2.1: PWS will provide a learning environment which fosters inclusivity, connectedness, and encourages social and emotional wellness for all.
    • Objective 2.3: PWCS facilities will be welcoming, safe, and sustainable
  • Commitment 3 - Family and Community Engagement
    • Objective 3.1: PWCS will engage families as authentic partners in education to support academic progress.
    • Objective 3.2: PWCS will work collaboratively with community agencies and business partners to support strategic initiatives.
    • Objective 3.3: PWCS will ensure honest, transparent, two-way communications with family schools and the community to foster trusting relationships.

Plan is for the strategic plan to be presented to the school board in December.

There is a presentation on the website for orientation for those who would like more information on how SACI works. If you have any questions, please reach out to Mrs. Olson. If you did not receive Beth's email earlier this week, please check your Spam folder.

Adjourned 9:20 p.m. Next Meeting will be December 9, 2021.