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Hopkins Considers IB Program at Junior Highs

A report recommends pursuing International Baccalaureate candidacy in the 2012-13 school year.

officials are recommending that Hopkins junior highs become candidates for the International Baccalaureate Organization’s Middle Years Programme.

A junior high rigor study update, presented to the School Board on Thursday, recommends that Hopkins pursue International Baccalaureate candidacy for the 2012-13 school year. That would not make the schools IB institutions, but it would kick off the formal process for joining the program.

IB’s Middle Years Programme provides an enhanced curriculum for grades six through 10, although Hopkins would only offer Middle Years at its junior highs. Started in Geneva, Switzerland, the program emphasizes “global mindedness” and a broad curriculum with eight components—including requirements for all students to take arts courses, physical education and a second language.

The Middle Years Programme is separate from—but complementary to—the better-known IB Diploma Programme that prepares high school students for college coursework, potentially earning them college credit.

“I’m really intrigued by the Middle Years Programme because it is for all learners,” board Chairwoman Susan Wooten said. “I think it offers a platform for intercultural understanding, and we cannot stop talking about that.”

found that more than 70 percent of parents favored an IB program in the district.

But some directors were more skeptical. Director Wendy Donovan noted that it would be a lot of change coming shortly after other big changes at the junior highs, which have recently seen new course schedules and the addition of more-challenging courses. She asked what the junior highs would actually gain from becoming IB schools.

“We like to Hopkinize everything we do, and that takes that away,” Donovan said.

Said Directory Betsy Anderson: “It clearly has to be more than the IB label for us.”

Principal Shirley Gregoire said IB standards pull together grading, curriculum and IB aims into one focused package—with audits that ensure the programs meet IB standards.

“You can’t say you’re doing IB and not really do it,” Gregoire said. “The accountability is really tight, which is part of what you’re paying for.”

If Hopkins decides to pursue the Middle Years Programme, the district would have to pay a $4,500 application fee. There also would be a $9,000-per-school fee for each year they were IB candidates—with the process taking as long as three years. If the schools are accepted, each would pay an annual fee in the $8,500 range.

During the initial 2012-13 candidacy year:

  • Curriculum development would begin,
  • Officials would explore whether student and staff schedules mesh with the program and
  • Staff would receive training.

If district leaders decided IB was a good match, the schools would continue as IB candidates, with authorization targeted for the end of the 2014-2015 school year. If not, the schools would abandon the IB program, although the report argues that training from the candidacy years would enhance the current program.

Thursday’s report was for discussion purposes only. District staff will develop a budget and look more closely at what is needed to support an IB program before bringing it back to the board.

But Director Warren Goodroad was happy to see the program under discussion. His family saw the success of the IB program firsthand when three of his children studied in IB schools in Europe.

“It brings home going into another place and being stronger for it,” Goodroad said.

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