Officials weighing IB program

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TRAVERSE CITY — Trevor Schmitz notices a difference between the students who go to his children’s school and those who attend a more traditional school.

“You just kind of see how the kids open up and how they understand the world a little bit better,” he said.

 Schmitz, a Williamsburg resident with a 4-year-old and a 9-year-old, sends both to the International School at Bertha Vos, an elementary school that teaches to the International Baccalaureate program. They carry on conversations in Chinese at home and always ask questions when they don’t understand something.

The IB program — implemented in schools across the world — teaches students through inquiry and encourages them to be global citizens. The program is in four Traverse City Area Public Schools, including both middle schools, Bertha Vos and Interlochen Community School.

TCAPS officials are examining data related to the program while the schools are still in their candidacy phase and as part of a larger conversation about potentially closing Bertha Vos and Interlochen — both low-enrollment schools. They spoke about the program at a committee meeting Dec. 2. The curriculum committee will review the program on Dec.17 before the discussion moves to the full board in January.

Bertha Vos Principal and IB Coordinator Katie Bonne said officials will weigh the data they have about the IB program against its costs.

“We’re looking at the academic return on investment and using the data to drive our decisions,” she said.

Officials estimate the IB program in an elementary school of 300 students could cost between $450 to $550 more per student and between $135 and $220 more per middle school student in a school with 1,000. Part of the TCAPS IB program is funded through a grant that runs out at the end of the year.

At Interlochen Community School, disciplinary referrals, such as to the principal’s office, declined 46 percent from the 2013-2014 year to the 2014-2015 year, a decline school officials attribute to the IB program.


Source: Traverse City Record Eagle


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