Take, for instance, this article from Dexter's Squall newspaper, written by Brittany Martini (Squall co-editor) and featured in annarbor.com on March 13, 2010--it features the process that Dexter High School is going through in preparation for switching from a school with AP classes to a school with an IB program.
Tentatively, in the fall of 2011, juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to either enroll in International Baccalaureate classes or enter an IB program and eventually receive an IB diploma... Dexter High School currently offers Advanced Placement (AP) classes to upperclassmen, but, according to [social studies teacher Susan] Walters, there is a definite difference between the two.“In terms of students, IB classes offer an opportunity for them to earn college credit, just like AP.... Also, the more challenging and greater variety of courses we can provide for students, the richer our curriculum will be.At the same time, the WISD is looking at creating an IB program in East Middle School. [Sarcastic side notes: 1) The WISD apparently doesn't have enough to do with taking on the "countywide" transporation; and 2) isn't it so convenient that Ypsilanti happens to have an empty middle school that could be used. Oh, but "no decisions have been made." OK, sarcasm over.]
"Students who take individual IB classes can test for college credit; students who only take IB classes during their junior and senior years can earn enough credits to enter college with sophomore standing or close to that.”
Besides a different approach to the test, IB and AP classes differ in price as well.
According to Pam Bunka [Fenton English teacher]... Fenton recently adopted the IB program and has seen elective enrollements fall because of this adoption...The IB test is approximately $224 dollars, which is significantly more than the AP test.”...“The IB program allows students no room for electives,” Bunka said. “The electives a student in the diploma program has to take must be IB-approved classes. This means they can not take a band class; they have to take a band theory class instead. This applies for art classes as well. A student would have to take an art theory class instead of a regular art class."...
The IB diploma program forces students to take only IB classes...Regardless of the potential benefits and drawbacks from the program, whether DHS will become an IB school is still up in the air.
Seriously, I am open-minded about the IB program, and I don't know much about it, but I want my questions answered.
According to this June 30, 2010 article by David Jesse,
"The Washtenaw County Superintendents Association has been talking about adding an IB program at the high school level for much of the last school year.It happens that this article sparked a lot of comments, which I will get to in a minute. My basic problem is that I still didn't know what this program is/was. Luckily for me, the New York Times posted an article a few days later that at least explains the details.
“This spring, they voted to move ahead with the planning of a countywide magnet high school using the IB Diploma Program, beginning with a target of 150 students with a goal of up to 600 students by year four,” Allen said."
The lesser-known I.B., a two-year curriculum developed in the 1960s at an international school in Switzerland, first took hold in the United States in private schools. But it is now offered in more than 700 American high schools — more than 90 percent of them public schools — and almost 200 more have begun the long certification process.Translation: devoting their full junior and senior years means no electives.
Many parents, schools and students see the program as a rigorous and more internationally focused curriculum, and a way to impress college admissions officers.
To earn an I.B. diploma, students must devote their full junior and senior years to the program, which requires English and another language, math, science, social science and art, plus a course on theory of knowledge, a 4,000-word essay, oral presentations and community service. (Emphasis added.)
According to the New York Times article, the most common opposition comes from a belief that it is too internationally-focused (follows a "United Nations agenda"), and the cost.
Others object to its cost — the organization charges $10,000 a year per school, $141 per student and $96 per exam — and say it is neither as effective as the A.P. program nor likely to reach as many students.Side note: I like the idea of a United Nations agenda.
The Times article also looks at a school implementing the program in Maine:
Because it is so rigorous, the I.B. is not for everyone. At Greely, only 21 juniors started the full program this year, and three subsequently shifted to a mix of I.B. and regular classes. But those who stayed with it seemed enthusiastic. “It’s like a little club of scholars,” said Maggie Bower, a junior.In the comments on the Annarbor.com article, I thought there were some really good questions, which I will aggregate here:
Will the teachers at the IB program have to move from their current school district in Washtenaw County to the ISD? Will there be countywide busing available? How will students be selected for the program, using standardized tests or recommendations and grades? And, will students who attend the program be able to play sports at their "home school" or will the IB program also offer a sports program as a comprehensive high school? Is this just another way to funnel resources to elite students? How would this compete with the new High School program the Ypsilanti district is planning for the former Ardis elementary building? Will teachers remain employees of their home districts? How will districts fund this, and what will it cost them? How is the WISD going to be held accountable to the local voters? Will this program "cream" the most motivated students from each district, leaving fewer options for those left behind? How much money for renovations to a school building, and what will that cost/where will the money come from?
And I have a few more questions:
What kind of impact would this have on electives--music, art, gym?
What kind of impact would this have on after-school activities--theater, sports?
What kind of impact will this have on smaller schools in the county--for instance, Manchester, Willow Run, Whitmore Lake--will it mean they have to cut sports programs because they don't have enough enrollment to support them? Will this support disinvestment in local schools?
How do we keep the Washtenaw Intermediate School District accountable?
Why is the IB program preferable to AP?
We already have the Early College Alliance, connected to EMU (as well as the charter school, Washtenaw Technical Middle College). With both of those, students end up with actual college credits. Why is the IB program preferable to expanding these (ECA and WTMC) programs?
Is there anything that I missed? Add your questions below.