Best Practices

Fairfax: Fairfax County Schools' Criminal Justice Classes

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At a glance

• Over 1,200 students enrolled in criminal justice classes each year experience the Virginia Rules curriculum: The Virginia Rules curriculum is an essential element of the criminal justice curriculum in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) .

• Easy, accessible and up-to-date: Criminal justice classes use the Virginia Rules website to give their students quick access to the latest information on Virginia law.

• A boon to parents: Parents of students enrolled in the criminal justice program have found the program helps them by providing clear, accurate, targeted information that is relevant to their teens.

In depth

Criminal Justice Program
The criminal justice program is designed for students who are considering a career in a criminal justice-related field. The program prepares students for career opportunities within the criminal justice system and for entrance into institutions of higher learning.

Using the experience of  retired law enforcement professional teachers and with more than 1,200 students annually, criminal justice is one of FCPS’ fastest growing electives.

Natural partners
The criminal justice program adopted the Virginia Rules program as an essential part of its level one course curriculum. The Virginia Rules program dovetails nicely with the curriculum and provides a valuable Virginia focus, which helps students make a personal connection to Virginia law. Teachers are experienced law enforcement professionals and bring real experience and applications to the lessons.

Virginia Rules also assists parents by providing them with clear and accurate information in a student-focused vehicle. 

Innovative testing and online access
Teachers report that Virginia Rules is easy for both parents and students to use. It’s quick and easy to search for a topic or find resources to talk about with teens, and the website is age-appropriate and provides up-to-date information regarding Virginia’s laws. 

Teachers have enhanced Virginia Rules’ capabilities by adding the program to its online Blackboard system, which allows students to access tests and curriculum from home computers or anywhere they have online access.

Contributors: Michael D. Birch, criminal justice instructor; Chad A. Maclin, Coordinator, Trade & Industrial Education, Fairfax County Public Schools; Ronald K. Miller, criminal justice instructor

If you have a good idea or lesson plan that you're willing to share, please email it and any supporting materials to Shannon Freeman at

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