FAC considers IB courses

The Faculty Academic Committee has begun to look into the possible addition of International Baccalaureate courses to the upper school curriculum over the next few years, upper school FAC Chair Kent Nealis said.

“The program is very well respected by U.S. colleges and universities,” Nealis said. “We are always sensitive to how our curriculum is seen by colleges and universities.”

The IB program was initially developed as a common international curriculum for students ages 16 to 19 so that students could move from one school to another.

“The IB program has evolved into a high quality integrated and interdisciplinary global, and by global I mean from a global perspective, curriculum, which has some real attractiveness to us as a college preparatory school,” Nealis said.

He said that having an international focus would be increasingly important.

 Nealis began researching the IB Diploma Programme at Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts’ request.

It would be implemented in the 11th and 12th grades.

The Diploma Programme requires students to submit an essay based on an interdisciplinary concept called the theory of knowledge, an extended essay and a community service and extracurricular requirement called the “creativity, action, service” requirement.

Huybrechts said that while the AP program offers a lot of courses, each does not go very in depth.

“The IB program features more depth and less breadth, and I think that could be very appealing to some students who, in our 11th and 12th grade programs, want to pursue a subject more deeply,” Huybrechts said.

The process of considering the IB program at school is in its earliest stages, Nealis said. Nealis gave a presentation at the last upper school FAC meeting, where it was “positively received,” he said, it was mentioned at the joint FAC meeting, and it was discussed at the last middle school meeting in the context that the Upper School is looking into it.  Nealis is now forming a committee to do more research.

If they decide that the IB program is in fact a good fit for the school, Nealis said that they would then go to the IB administration to learn more information.

Nealis said that the IB program would not be implemented in place of other AP and Honors courses.

Students in the Diploma Programme select one subject from each of the six subject groups the IB offers. At least three of those courses will be taken at an advanced level, and the others will be taken at the standard level. Nealis said that some of the school’s AP and Honors courses could fulfill that requirement.

“We regularly evaluate and reevaluate our AP classes and Honors classes and ask ourselves are there other programs that would challenge and also help them in the college admissions process,” Nealis said.

While the middle school FAC chair Stephen Chan said that the middle school FAC is not yet looking into adding the IB Middle School Program, he said that the Middle School would have to accommodate their curriculum if the Upper School adopts the IB program. Chan said he does not have enough information yet to form an opinion on the program.

Nealis said that it would take at least three years to implement an IB program after deciding that the school wants to go forth with it.

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