Evolving IB program continues to challenge students


Preparing students for the world of college or employment after graduation is one of our District’s top priorities. The world continues to change at a rapid pace and the globalization of our society continues as well. One of the tools we have at our disposal is our International Baccalaureate (IB) program. IB, an international curriculum, is a rigorous college preparatory course of study in which students have the opportunity to take classes that emphasize research skills, internationalism, critical thinking, the application of knowledge, intercultural understanding and interdisciplinary learning. 

The global economy demands a long list of skills and the IB program helps students become international citizens by emphasizing student engagement. The curriculum is focused on individual student research along with a strong emphasis on reading, writing, and communication.

Students have the option of taking the entire IB Diploma program their junior and senior years, or taking individual IB courses. This year, more than 540 students are taking at least one IB course and about 90 are enrolled in the rigorous diploma program.  This year marks the 11th year we will be graduating IB Diploma students.

In order to earn an IB Diploma, students must complete courses within six groups. These are English Language, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Experimental Sciences, Mathematics and the Arts and Electives. 

Students must also complete a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course, write an extended essay, and participate in a Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) project. 

The TOK course allows students to analyze the different ways they can know things, such as through the senses, language, reason and emotion. Students will learn to think about the lens through which they view intellectual problems, encouraging a richer understanding of the unity and diversity of knowledge.  The CAS encourages students to share their interests and special talents while developing awareness, concern and the ability to work cooperatively with others. Students develop skills designed to help them create a better and more peaceful world. The extended essay encompasses independent, self-directed research culminating in a 4,000-word paper.  Students have the opportunity to engage in an in-depth study of a topic of interest chosen from any of the IB subjects with the support, advice, and guidance of an IB teacher supervisor. 

The IB curriculum continues to evolve. IB Sports Exercise and Health Sciences, and an IB Design course that is centered around thinking and technology were added this year.

Previously, we had offered the IB program at all three high schools. The consolidation of the IB program at the Emerald Campus saves the District more than $200,000 per year, and has also produced a tremendous social benefit. Many students have also been excited about making new friends, and reconnecting with old ones from other high schools other than their own.

As the IB program says on its website, “Only by developing and empowering our youth can we equip them to become the thinkers, creatives and engineers of tomorrow, ready to solve society’s most pressing challenges and build a better, more sustainable world for all.”

You can learn more about the specific content of IB courses at this link: IB Course Descriptions

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