Advanced programs offer students a global view International Baccalaureate
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 26, 2006

Josh Kelley

Looking for a school that will challenge a talented student with advanced course work that covers a wide spectrum of subjects taught from a global perspective?

Then the International Baccalaureate program could be your ticket.

But IB programs are not for the faint of heart, particularly at the high school level where the more intense diploma program is taught. A student who enters an IB program that is offered to a select number of motivated students, and not an entire school, should have a desire to take part, said Elaine Jacobs, principal at Paradise Valley Unified's Vista Verde Middle School in Phoenix, which is seeking official authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organization.

"I think they have to want to do it," said Jacobs, who previously taught English in the IB diploma program at Phoenix Union's North Canyon High..

A student forced into the program by a parent will often rebel, she said.
However, parents sometimes know what's best for their kids, who end up enjoying the program once their parents compel them to enroll.

"It's a little tight rope walk that parents might need to walk," Jacobs said.

Not all IB programs at high schools offer an IB diploma, which requires students to pass difficult exams, write a 4,000-word essay and commit to 150 hours of community service.

Some high schools offer an IB certificate program, which is less rigorous but provides more students with a chance to participate, said Gregg Good, IB coordinator at Westwood High in Mesa, where the first class of seniors to earn IB diplomas at the school will graduate in the spring.