Calling it an opportunity to offer students another rigorous academic option, the Board of Education approved the creation of an International Baccalaureate program. An internationally recognized program known for its rigorous academic and personal standards, International Baccalaureate (IB) will add to the options for students to push themselves to higher goals.
“It’s another opportunity for high-end academics,” said Superintendent Dr. Jody Barrow. “I think for our students and their families who are looking at the highest academic rigor we can provide, IB certainly fits that bill.”
The IB program will start at Sandy Creek.
“We feel like placing it at Sandy Creek High School we have room to be able to put the program in place there,” he said. “We think that the program will grow.”
Prospective students who are not Patriots will still be afforded the opportunity to join the program, though the details will still need to be hammered out.
“If there are other students, just like we do with automotive mechanics or ROTC, if we have other students who want to pursue the IB program, they can participate in the IB program,” said Barrow, noting that there will likely be some IB offerings at each school eventually.
IB will not supplant the popular Advanced Placement (AP) program.
“I think it provides choice,” said Barrow. “I think our AP programs are going to continue to be successful.”
Based out of Geneva, Switzerland, IB has two primary initiatives: IB classes or pursuit of a full IB diploma. The diploma route takes about two years. As the program ramps up, IB classes will be the only option. There is a learning curve for the county as they install the program, with a likely target of 2021 for full implementation.
“It’ll take us two years to ramp up,” Barrow said of the training. “It really takes about three years before everything is fully functional.”
Among the questions they’ll still have to answer is how to help defray the added cost of the IB program compared to AP classes, but it’s a problem Barrow is willing to tackle.
“I recognize that the cost is much greater as far as actual coursework, but we don’t just send those down the street to the college board, it actually goes (Switzerland) where they’re actually graded,” he said. “If we have kids who want the rigor and can perform with the rigor, it’s up to us to figure out how to fund that. I don’t want any young person not to be able to participate in any of our programs just based on the issue of dollars and cents.”