Lifelong Education and Learning

Community Outcome Area: Lifelong Education and Learning

Fairfax County is a place where all residents at every stage of life are taking advantage of inclusive, responsive, and accessible learning opportunities that enable them to grow, prosper and thrive.



Fairfax County is the home of world-class learning institutions, including an outstanding public school system, the second-largest community college in the country and excellent university programs. These institutions, along with many county programs and community-based providers, support the education and learning needs of a large and diverse population.

Many adult residents are highly educated, employed in well-paying jobs with the potential for future career growth and have broad access to digital and in-person learning programs to continue to build their skills over time. Others have less access to well-paying jobs and the learning opportunities needed to successfully compete in the regional job market, which affects both individuals and families. There is also a tremendous need for quality early childhood education, which supports school readiness and is an essential component of success later in life. Finally, older residents need to be connected and engaged, especially through increased digital access and literacy, but also through in-person opportunities that teach new skills and offer a sense of inclusion and connection. 

The goal of this community outcome area is to ensure that lifelong learning opportunities and the achievement of educational goals are readily available to residents at every stage of life, regardless of age. The proposed strategies in this section are focused on addressing existing disparities in learning outcomes, while expanding and integrating Fairfax County learning opportunities in a wide variety of educational and community settings.



Fairfax County fosters world-class education that includes full support and alignment with Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and its strategic plan. Many people choose to move to Fairfax County because of its outstanding public school system. FCPS serves more than 190,000 students and is a primary contributor to our vision of building an educated, skilled, compassionate and culturally competent community. The FCPS strategic plan lays out the specific goals, metrics and strategies that will lead to student success, and the School Board, staff and families of FCPS are working diligently to implement that plan. Fairfax County Government will continue to seek and communicate opportunities to collaborate with our school system, enhancing ways to support their educational efforts while advancing strategic community objectives such as:

  • Integrating the delivery of county services and school services to create a more accessible and seamless experience for students and their families.
  • Sharing data and information about the needs of students and families to ensure more proactive and effective services, as appropriate.
  • Coordinating and consolidating administrative functions to achieve efficiencies and improved service.
  • Convening conversations of elected officials, residents, and other stakeholders to raise awareness around critical issues and to set a shared direction for how the community should respond to those issues.
  • Identifying more coordinated opportunities to better attract, develop and retain the collective workforce of more than
  •  50,000 employees across the entire FCPS/county organization.


Challenge Questions

  1. How will we ensure that all children have access to quality early learning opportunities?
  2. How will we adapt our approach to effective lifelong education and learning as our county experiences changing demographics and gaps in language/communication proficiencies?
  3. How will we ensure that we equitably and effectively support all county residents seeking to acquire the career and technical skills that employers want?
  4. How will we ensure that racial and social factors do not predetermine residents’ access to quality lifelong learning opportunities?
  5. How will we more effectively engage partners (FCPS, technical schools, higher education and employers) to provide education to meet the demands of the market and provide opportunities for all county residents?
  6. How will we keep up with and provide equitable access to new and innovative learning technologies (whether within schools, at home or in public learning arenas)?


  • Access to Early Childhood Education
  • Supporting Academic Achievement
  • Supporting Career-Based Training
  • Participation in Learning Opportunities
  • Quality and Accessibility of Technology
  • Increased English Language Proficiency

Proposed Strategies

These proposed strategies were developed based on the extensive background work completed by the Countywide Strategic Planning Teams (listed in Appendix E). The Board will determine which strategies will be pursued, as well as when they might be undertaken. This process will be highly flexible and will adapt to respond to community conditions as they evolve over time.

Access to Early Childhood Education

  • LEL 1. Leverage Fairfax County’s full complement of social service agencies, community nonprofits, faith groups, homeowners’ associations and business leaders to promote awareness of the positive impact that early childhood education has on the child, their family and the community.
  • LEL 2. Create a plan and resource model to ensure access to high-quality early childhood education.
  • LEL 3. Ensure early childhood educators have access to effective professional learning and development informed by evidence and best practices.

Quality and Accessibility of Technology

  • LEL 4. Expand and enhance the technology skills of learners of all ages.
  • LEL 5. Identify and eliminate barriers to digital access through partnerships with local businesses and digital service providers.
  • LEL 6. Expand the capacity for digitally enhanced and distance learning so that educators are successful in that environment.
  • LEL 7. Expand year-round literacy and science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programs, with a focus on widening the interest and participation of underrepresented students.

Participation in Learning Opportunities

  • LEL 8. Champion initiatives that encourage family engagement in educational activities within and beyond the classroom.
  • LEL 9. Engage with adults and the 50+ community to serve as volunteer mentors, educators and career coaches.
  • LEL 10. Increase and enhance lifelong learning opportunities for the 50+ community, especially programs with a technology focus.

Supporting Academic Achievement

  • LEL 11. Support recruitment and hiring pathways that are designed to bring instructor and teacher demographics more closely in alignment with student demographics.
  • LEL 12. Expand county/community partnerships, including family supports and interventions, to foster student (learner) social, emotional, behavioral and academic competencies.

Supporting Career-Based Training

  • LEL 13. Ensure early childhood educators have access to effective professional learning and development informed by evidence and best practices.
  • LEL 14. Identify and address common barriers that prevent many residents from accessing career and technical education.
  • LEL 15. Increase the supply and improve the quality of career and technical education — including apprenticeship and internship programs — by expanding comprehensive public-private coalitions across schools, postsecondary institutions and workforce development organizations.

Increased English Language Proficiency

  • LEL 16. Engage businesses, nonprofit service groups, faith-based organizations and social services agencies to expand the number of English-language learning opportunities.

Sample Metrics

Indicator: Access to Early Childhood Education

  • % of 0 to 5-year-olds enrolled in an early childhood development program
  • % of children entering kindergarten who meet age-appropriate developmental expectations
  • # of households using parent/family center services
  • # of 0 to 5-year-olds participating in county-funded early childhood development programs
  • % of children enrolled in FCPS and Head Start early childhood development programs who attend at least 90% of scheduled days
  • % of eligible children participating in county-provided early childhood development programs

Indicator: Supporting Academic Achievement

  • % of students reading at grade level by third grade
  • % of students passing eighth-grade Algebra I
  • % of high school students who pass a college-level exam or earn an industry certification before graduation
  • % of students conversant in more than one language
  • % of full-time high school and post-secondary students who graduate on time
  • % of families indicating the support they receive from family leaders, parent liaisons and/or other county and FCPS staff is useful and high quality

Indicator: Supporting Career-Based Training

  • % of high school students who believe there is a realistic path to pursue meaningful career opportunities
  • # of students enrolled in and % who successfully complete county-coordinated career and technical education programs
  • % of residents with some form of post-secondary degree/certification
  • # of county-provided post-secondary programs designed for residents with special needs.
  • % of students with special needs who are employed after high school

Indicator: Participation in Learning Opportunities

  • % of residents who report they are aware of county-offered lifelong learning opportunities
  • % of participants in county-offered lifelong learning programs who rated those programs as achieving their desired learning objective
  • % of residents who are library cardholders and used their library card in the past year
  • % of adult residents engaged in lifelong learning on a regular basis
  • % of residents who report their county-provided training program was able to accommodate their special need(s)

Indicator: Access to Quality Technology

  • # of households who do not have internet access at home
  • % of residents who believe they have the technology and competency needed to be effective digital learners
  • % of instructors in FCPS and other county-supported learning environments who feel they have the technology needed to deliver a quality learning experience

Indicator: Increased English Language Proficiency

  • % of residents who report their English language proficiency is a barrier to success for themselves and their family
  • % of residents whose primary language is not English, who report they felt included in and had access to learning opportunities
  • # of adult participants in language proficiency classes/programs offered through libraries and community partners
  • % of adult participants of language proficiency classes/programs offered through libraries and community partners who report their language proficiency improved
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