Evolving IB program

By Corrina Bergeon & Mary Husserlifestyle & staff writer

“I love that IB is always evolving,” International Baccalaureate Coordinator Sarah Pancost said. “People know IB is a good program because it constantly is updating and analyzing all of its coursework and assessments.”

The IB diploma is a rigorous program designed for students who are serious about having an international perspective as they prepare to enter a college environment.

“It requires students to know a little bit about all of the great subjects we offer here at Dow High,” Pancost said. “Colleges recognize the IB Diploma as a strong indicator of future college success.”

Senior and IB diploma candidate Morgan Wynne believes that the IB diploma will definitely assist her in her college pursuits.

“A lot of people judge the IB diploma as if you get college credits, then it’s worth it,” Wynne said. “I will probably get a couple classes taken care of because of the diploma and doing well on the individual tests. A lot of people have scheduling conflicts, especially in the math. Even if you can’t do the diploma because of the class requirements, taking Theory of Knowledge and the extended essay, those are the most important parts of the IB diploma in my opinion.”

Because the program is designed to be rigorous, many students feel overwhelmed and unable to complete the work necessary to receive their IB diploma. It is for this reason that the program has made a few recent changes.

“One new item we’ve learned is that students who take two years of language will be eligible for the Diploma,” Pancost said. “Up to this point we’ve only had students with four years of language eligible for the diploma. All of the changes I’ve been learning about have been changes that open the program up to more students. I know the staff here at [DHS] is very much in support of increasing the pool of students that can be eligible for an IB Diploma.”

IB has even added a new opportunity to students who just can’t fit the diploma into their busy schedules. Beginning this semester, DHS students can become World Scholars.

“I love the World Scholar opportunity because it opens up a great part of IB to all juniors and seniors,” Pancost said. “To be a World Scholar a student needs to take the requirements of the “center” of the IB Program: TOK, CAS and EE.”

TOK stands for Theory of Knowledge, an applied philosophy class required for all Diploma Candidates. CAS is “Creativity, Action, Service” which incorporates activities outside of school. And EE is the extended essay on which a student choses a topic to research and write about.

The World Scholar opportunity is highly recommended for all students who plan to attend a college or university.

“I think students would want to be World Scholars because it allows them to access the unique programs that are only offered at IB World schools: TOK, CAS and EE,” Pancost said.

The classes associated with the World Scholar opportunity are some of the most popular with IB diploma candidates.

“I really liked the Theory of Knowledge class, because it opened my eyes to not just the culture in Midland, but the different cultures around the world, and I think I’m more open-minded and balanced,” Wynne said. “All these personality traits have grown in me through the process and it’s just an accomplishment. I like knowing that I accomplished something big.”

Students involved in IB programs exhibit similar characteristics that help them succeed in the programs.

“Some of the best World Scholars are students who love to think outside the box, and the World Scholar opportunity lets students do this,” Pancost said. “Being a World Scholar is a fun way to connect with other students who like to question and analyze things. I also think the core of the IB Program is different from traditional courses and approaches to learning.”

Pancost believes that one of the contributing factors to IB’s ever-changing characteristics is the feedback it receives from international sources.

“The changes are all made after input from teachers around the world,” Pancost said. “The IB staff at Dow High was asked to look over the tests last year and give feedback to IB about the tests so they could update the requirements in the future. There will always be changes to the IB program. It is a dynamic curriculum that is constantly changing and updating. If any structural changes are made [new course offerings, etc.] we will make sure the transition increases opportunities for student choice and success. That’s the constant goal with IB.”

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