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K-12 IB Campaign Questions
What is IB all about? International Baccalaureate (IB) is a unique approach to teaching children. It connects what students are learning across subjects and encourages students to delve deeper, by not simply memorizing but asking why and how. When students are given the chance to explore an issue deeper on their terms, they learn better and become eager to learn more.
IB also includes world language, starting in kindergarten. Students begin learning Chinese or Spanish, depending on which elementary school they attend. In middle school they will have the opportunity to choose from Spanish, Chinese, and French. In the high school, Hebrew, German, Latin, and Japanese are added to a student’s world language options.
How does this differ from what the schools have done historically? While students will still have to learn their basic math facts and spelling words, other curriculum will require students to explore topics of interest in greater depth. The ways students interact with one another will be transformed as well. Class and group projects will allow students to collaborate with peers of differing backgrounds, gaining both teamwork skills and global perspectives.
Will IB distract students from learning the basics? In order for students to become the kind of learners that IB strives to develop – critical-thinkers, problem-solvers, and inquirers – they must have basic literacy and math skills. Washington Township elementary schools have a 90-minute daily literacy block and a 60-minute daily math block in which the fundamentals of literacy and math are taught to every student. The IB curricular framework builds upon those basic skills to develop learners who are able to acquire in-depth knowledge and develop deep understandings across a broad range of disciplines.
Will IB help close the achievement gap? IB is designed to increase achievement for all students. While it is anticipated that IB will help lessen the achievement gap, it is too early in the implementation process to isolate IB as the cause to any change in student achievement data.
Aren’t we already doing this? To a degree. School administrators have begun the process of becoming authorized district-wide so all schools are beginning to use the teaching strategies and programming involved in IB.
Don’t we have already IB at the high school? Yes, North Central High School has had the IB Diploma Program since 1988. It is one of the most prestigious and well-established Diploma Programs in the state. In fact, the idea of implementing IB in all schools was inspired by the success of the students who earned an IB Diploma.
While the long-standing Diploma Program currently involves about 70 students at North Central, the IB programming that Washington Township is implementing now is designed for every child in every school.
Will all students receive International Baccalaureate diplomas? The IB Diploma Program will continue to be separate curriculum, with enrollment limited to qualified students at the end of 10th grade. Admission is based on a combination of GPA, course load, teacher recommendations, language proficiency, and a personal interview. At North Central, approximately 30 seniors take the IB exams at the end of their senior year, with an average of 90% earning the IB Diploma. Washington Township expects those numbers to increase somewhat, but most students will probably not select the Diploma Program option. However, because so many North Central teachers have been trained in inquiry-based methods, all students will benefit from the introduction of IB into Washington Township schools.
So IB is paid for in the current budget? Not entirely. The school district has made some hard choices to realign some teaching positions and cut back on other traditional expenses to pay for this change. Still, the district is $1 million short of the needed funding.
This sounds great, but are teachers on board with this? The Washington Township Education Association (WTEA) has been involved from the beginning in planning and supporting the district’s vision to provide each student in every school a rigorous inquiry-based learning program. The WTEA says the following in a letter of support for this program:
“It will be a proud day when MSD Washington Township schools achieve IB status, and are recognized in the community for providing a world-class education to all students entering our doors.”
As another example of district-wide commitment to IB: hundreds of teachers have voluntarily attended professional development workshops on unpaid vacation days.
Why should I give to something my taxes already support? Great question. Washington Township has a strong tradition of supporting public education with private donations to its Washington Township Schools Foundation. In this case there are several compelling reasons to make a gift:
- This program would make Washington Township the only district in the state to have the IB program in every classroom, and one of only seven districts nationwide.
- Tax dollars are simply not enough. This investment in Washington Township students will benefit the entire community.
- The IB program at North Central attracts students from outside the district. North Central’s exceptional reputation, partly due to IB, contributes to higher property values. Imagine the impact when every school can make this claim.