International Baccalaureate Brings the World to Inner City Indianapolis
By Christine Marson
The newly-opened Indianapolis Public Schools International Studies (Baccalaureate) Magnet at Northwest High School is one of 18 Indiana schools offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Authorized as an IB program in May 2006, the school offers a “pre-university challenging study.”
The International Studies Magnet at Northwest High School is comprised of two components: the Middle Years Programme (grades 9–10) and the Diploma Programme (grades 11–12). The Middle Years Programme is in the authorization process. Once approved, it will provide a framework of academic challenges and life skills for students aged 14–16, including a thorough study of the sciences, humanities, mathematics, English, foreign language, arts, physical education, and technology. The Diploma Programme is a challenging curriculum for the final two years of high school. Fourteen students at Northwest currently are pursuing the IB diploma.
“The IB Diploma Programme at Northwest High School readies students for postsecondary education. It teaches students to ask challenging questions, encourages them to learn how to learn, helps them develop a strong sense of culture and identity, and teaches them to communicate with and understand people from other countries and cultures. Through this program, we want students to formulate their own world views,” said Barbara Mebane, Diploma Programme coordinator.
Students in the IB Diploma Programme complete classes in six subject areas: Language A1; Language B; Individuals and Society; Experimental Sciences; Math and Computer Science; and the Arts. Students take three courses at a higher level, requiring more class time and in-depth study. In addition, students write an extended essay on an independent research topic, take an interdisciplinary Theory of Knowledge course, and design and complete Creativity, Action, and Service projects (at a minimum of 150 hours). The IB Diploma Programme allows students to be evaluated according to an international standard. Many colleges recognize participation in and the passing of IB examinations as college credits.
The authorization process to become an authorized IB school can take two or more years and consists of two phases. First, the school sends teachers for professional development and submits a feasibility study and identification of resources to the International Baccalaureate Organization, an international nonprofit educational foundation. Upon receipt of a formal application, an International Baccalaureate Organization delegation visits the school and reports on the school’s capacity to deliver the program. Following the initial authorization, the International Baccalaureate Organization re-evaluates the school every five years.
“Overall I think the IB Magnet at Northwest High School is a very positive program. It challenges students and keeps them working hard and staying engaged,” said Mebane. “My daughter graduated from another Indiana IB Diploma program and was able to secure 24 college credits. Because of the pre-university approach, IB helped her approach college classes with much more ease. We hope many students will benefit from Northwest High School’s IB offerings. This year we will graduate our first class that will have access to universities around the world.”
Published: December 2008