College-prep program is gaining ground in Arizona schools
Mar. 4, 2007
Carol Peck Guest columnist
Two years ago I reported on an excellent model of academic rigor, the
International Baccalaureate, or IB, program, highlighting especially successful
programs in diverse and low-income Arizona communities.
Since then, I am pleased to see these programs have expanded into 11 schools
statewide with several more under development. Some school districts are even
developing programs that involve younger students in IB learning.
For more than 35 years, IB has been a well-respected college-prep program
primarily for the most ambitious students. This rigorous program reaches more
than 501,000 students in 124 countries and has expanded to begin with students
as young as 3. Many are recognizing the importance of international education
programs. A bill introduced by state Rep. Mark Anderson would fund some IB high
schools and similar programs.
"IB is a great example of a partnership between a private organization and
public schools that help our students strive for excellence," said state Rep.
David Schapira, an IB graduate and former teacher in the program.
IB teachers participate in intensive training sessions to learn research-based
best practices that apply to all classes they teach. Students are exposed to a
rigorous curriculum and are encouraged to become active learners, well-rounded
individuals and engaged citizens of an international community.
"The beauty of IB is that each school develops a unique program based on the IB
principles to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help
to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding
and respect," Arizona IB Chair Cathy Flesner said.
The U.S. Department of Education recently set a goal of giving more students
access to, and more teachers training for, Advanced Placement and International
Baccalaureate classes. I applaud their efforts. Challenging alternatives are
good not only for the students that participate but also raise the bar for the
entire school population.
"I am thankful for the excellent education that I've received, beginning with
elementary school in Alhambra District and culminating with the IB program at
North High," IB graduate Lee Tang said. "It prepared me to be successful at MIT
and enter high-level work for the federal government. This program has opened
life-changing doors for me."
For more information, visit www. ibo.org.
Carol Peck is president and CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Arizona. Her columns
appear every other Sunday. Send your questions and ideas to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.