The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is coming to next year, and when that happens, several area high schools will have to figure out how to contend with an educational model that is quickly becoming the gold standard across the nation.
The authorization process to become an IB world school takes about three years, it’s taught in schools in 139 countries and the diploma is recognized by colleges and universities in 120 countries, St. Ed’s executive vice president Dr. Gregg Good said.
Exceptions can be made, but IB typically accepts only bright, hard-working students who will be put to the test, given the rigors of the two-year program with courses that extend throughout their junior and senior years.
Good has already handpicked 82 incoming (pre-IB) freshmen, and 42 sophomores who will be the first to start the program next year.
“There’s absolutely no multiple choice or fill in the blank,” Good said. “There’s a tremendous focus on productive assignments. Students are doing a considerable amount of writing, research, individual and oral presentations, group work and extemporaneous presentations to the meet the high demands of this comprehensive academic program.”
IB students will study several authors and styles of writing from around the world, they will take four years of a foreign language and will take advanced social studies courses with a global emphasis, he said.
For the sciences, students will focus on chemistry, physics, biology and IB design technology – an engineering course focused on things like robotics, rapid prototyping and laser technology. There will also be a strong emphasis on lab time, and the high school was required to construct new laboratories to accommodate the high volume of work that will need to be completed.
In regard to mathematics, they’ll be taking roughly the equivalent of BC calculus, but they’ll also have the opportunity to study college-level courses like: differential equations, vectors, discrete mathematics, linear algebra and infinite series, he said.
For the arts, they will practice a musical instrument and learn several musical genres. They’ll also edit, write and produce a high definition documentary on a topic of their choosing.
To top it off, students will be required to complete a two-year independent research project, write a mini-dissertation and take several other courses to refine their cognitive abilities.
The school’s educators have had their work cut out for them too, beginning with IB training sessions that took some teachers as far as Canada and Paris, France.
Since their return, they’ve developed course outlines, syllabi and assessments, which Good compiled and sent to an IB headquarters in Maryland.
IB officials have taken several months to review the application, and in two weeks, they’ll send site examiners to Ed’s to individually interview pre-IB students, parents, administrators, the president, teachers, the board of trustees and the business manager to ensure the financials are in place.
Once all that’s completed, the examiners will make a recommendation to the IB director general’s office out of Geneva, Switzerland for authorization.
By 2012, Good and Ed’s president James Kubacki will have spent six figures to get the program off the ground that will apply to about 10 to 15 percent of the student body, and Good should hear back by this February on the authorization.