Board OK's Mandate for IB Program
The Moore County Board of Education passed a measure Monday night to mandate minimum participation in Pinecrest High School's International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program.
The resolution, introduced by Superintendent Dr. Susan Purser -- but modified by board member Kathy Farren -- was one of seven recommendations designed to increase the overall high school graduation rate of the system. It passed 7-1, with board member Sue Black voting against it.
The measure calls for a yearly evaluation of the IB Diploma program starting with the junior class for the 2009-2010 school year. If participation drops below 24 students per class or 48 overall among juniors and seniors -- Purser and the school system's staff are to inform the board and the program is to be discontinued.
Farren said the IB program averaged between 25 and 32 students per class initially. She said 24 students is a realistic number. There are now 50 students enrolled in the middle years program who will be juniors next year, she added.
The resolution eliminates blended curriculums for AP and IB courses, aside from mathematics, and the "a la carte" selection of IB courses. It also calls for revising the honors program in grades 9 and 10 to better prepare students for AP, IB, and honors courses in grades 11 and 12.
"Over the last several years, we have had a variety of discussions about the IB and AP programs, and these programs have frequently been presented as competitors," Purser said. "On the contrary, AP and IB are two exceptional programs that are designed to enhance the challenging opportunities for our most talented students, and they can co-exist successfully."
Purser recommended a four-year evaluation period for the IB program, because "the program has not yet had adequate time to become stabilized nor experience the impact of the Southern Middle MYIB program" and had not yet been effectively evaluated.
She also supported the continuation of "a la carte" selection of IB classes on the grounds that it would remain consistent with the information presented to the initial rising freshman class and their parents in 2000.
Farren proposed the yearly evaluation beginning next year because she said stronger participation in the program is paramount to its survival.
"Back in the spring, when we approved Southern Middle to be a full [middle years] IB program, we told parents we would continue the IB Diploma program, so I feel strongly that we should continue it," she said. "But I also feel strongly that we have to have participation in the program to be able to continue to fund the program. As long as we have that participation rate, we should continue it."
Board member Bruce Cunningham, who came under fire from IB supporters in October for discussing a similar plan, shared Farren's sentiments.
"I hope the number increases, and the program thrives," he said. "I do believe, though, that it is necessary at some point to set parameters and expectations so we can justify the continuation of such a program."
Purser reiterated her support of the a la carte selection of IB classes when asked for her reaction to Farren's amendments by board member W. Joe Vaughn.
"We have found a substantial number of students who choose a variety of courses," she said. "I believe that the a la carte portion is an important element that is provided for our students."
Purser explained that she favored a longer evaluation period because it would allow the initial class in the Southern middle years program to complete the full curriculum. However, Purser said she did understand the financial side of the argument.
"Clearly I support the notion, as this board has stated, there is a fiscal responsibility," she said. "There is a point in time where decisions have to be made."
Farren said that under this plan, the board is saying it will "build a field and hope they [the students] show up." Responsib-ility now shifts to students and their parents to demonstrate support of the IB program if they want it to continue, she said.
Board Chairwoman Lorna Clack said the plan will help the IB diploma program.
"I feel that the program will be strengthened and move forward in a more productive way," she said.
The other six recommendations call for the availability of honors courses in English, math, science and social studies at all high schools, the expansion of the AP program at each high school to include the option for an AP International Diploma, and assigning curriculum coordinators for AP, IB, graduation project and technology.
In addition, it sets a maximum class size of 24 and minimum class size of 12 for courses that require an end-of-course exam. It also encourages students to take the AP exam for the courses in which they enroll.
The six were unchanged and passed together unanimously.
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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