Education Week - January 9, 2013 - (Page 6)
JANUARY 9, 2013
FOCUS ON: INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE
IB Supporters Tout Program’s Links With Common Core
Program units used as bridge to standards
By Sarah D. Sparks
As districts nationwide scramble to translate the Common Core State Standards into concrete curricula and lesson plans, Principal Sue DeVicariis of Kate Sessions Elementary School in San Diego considers herself ahead of the game. Her school is one of 342 nationwide to follow the primary school program of the Swiss-based International Baccalaureate organization. Earlier this school year, Ms. DeVicariis and teachers met with colleagues across grades throughout the district to use ib inquiry-style units to create mathematics and English/language arts common-core curriculum units for San Diego. “It’s the exact same intent, and in some cases the same wording as well,” said David Weber, an ib math teacher at the Preuss SchoolUniversity of California San Diego, in La Jolla. “I would say ib has been well ahead of the common core in [math] in particular … One of the funniest and most interesting [differences] is that the ib objectives call for our students to actually enjoy math, which is starkly absent in the common core.” While the common core—so far adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia—is intended to bring a universal rigor to high school diplomas nationwide, the ib has been an established international benchmark of college readiness for more than a half-century in more than 3,500 schools worldwide. Speaking at a summit in Bethesda, Md., last month on aligning ib and the common core, Ms. Tell said, “The standards have been adopted, and I would maintain that was the easy part. Ib is an incredibly important critical part of the way forward.” In connection with its summit, the International Baccalaureate, based in Geneva, released a policy statement on the common core, announcing that the group will conduct linking studies between of teachers trained and subjects offered, but ib reports each school pays an initial $4,000 fee to apply to join, plus $9,500 annually; it also costs $141 per exam and $104 per subject for each student participating. Costs to train teachers and provide materials, field trips or other things associated with the program vary by school. Principal DeVicariis of Kate Sessions Elementary agreed that cost is always an issue for administrators: Her district’s program costs a total of $10,000 per student for the diploma program and $3,600 for the elementary and middle school programs. “We’ve got 200 schools, and there’s no way financially we could support it for everyone,” Ms. DeVicariis said. “I wouldn’t be able to afford it without a strong parent group.” In fact, she and other ib advocates hope ib will be able to influence curriculum through the common core even in districts that could not afford the program itself. want to retain the beautiful ways ib allows students to show what they can do.” Unlike the common core, ib integrates social and emotional learning into its academic standards, gauging students’ progress through projects, presentations, and other means. Several educators and policymakers have voiced concern that the common core might box in the more holistic approach that ib typically uses. “The common core seems to be uniquely American, very resultsoriented,” said Brian W. Crane, a mathematics-content specialist with Montgomery County public schools, in Maryland, “and the ib seems to be very concerned with the person as a whole and the results of knowledge.” That is likely to be a culture shock for teachers who are more used to teaching content separated by grade level and subject, according to Christie L. Fox, the scholars program coordinator at the Utah System of Higher Education. “Our teachers really need to become instructional designers, which they have not done in the past. We’ve never really asked teachers to do that, unless we are talking about” ib’s middle and primary years programs, she said. “Once we start to do that, I think we’ll start to see a really interesting elevation in instruction. Our teachers will themselves have to be global thinkers.”
Coverage of “deeper learning” that will prepare students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world is supported in part by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, at www. hewlett.org. Scan this tag with your smartphone for a link to the International Baccalaureate’s policy statement, “Expanding Student Access to a Rigorous International Education.” www.edweek.org/links.
Photos by Sandy Huffaker for Education Week
Ib educators and researchers view America’s foray into voluntary national standards as an unprecedented opportunity to share lessons from the prestigious—but, at as much as $10,000 per student to implement, expensive—diploma and preparatory programs. Ib’s standards, structured into interdisciplinary and multigrade lines of inquiry, were one of the models on which the common core was based, and the drive to meet the common core is drawing interest in ib even in the current tight school budget environment. “The common core is moving away from the mile-wide-inch-deep curriculum ... [with] scattered topics that don’t build upon a foundation to coherence, thinking across grades, and linking to major topics,” said Christine Tell, the director of state services for Achieve’s American Diploma Project, a major nonprofit driver of the common-core initiative.
FROM TOP: From left to right, 4th graders Jayden Davies, Gaby Porcaro, Makenna Sammons, and Marlena Grant work on a science presentation at Kate Sessions Elementary School in San Diego, where teachers are creating common-core lessons based on International Baccalaureate program units. Another student, Mia Keighan, performs a cartwheel on a balance beam at the school.
the two sets of standards and provide professional development for teachers. “The ib will continue to draw upon school reform initiatives—such as the [common core]—to ensure that the ib continues to lead the way in providing pedagogically current international education based upon research in education and best practices available,” the group said. For example, under Kate Sessions Elementary School’s existing ib-based lesson plans, 4th graders “inquire” into how changes in people’s physical and economic environments affect how and where they live and how they are governed. In the process, they study natural selection, civic responsibility, and
how economic and political systems work together, among other topics. These could all link to similar standards in the common core. Many educators in the program see their work as “not aligning ib and the common core, but the common core catching up to ib,” said Drew Deutsch, ib’s regional director for the Americas. Ib’s diploma, originally developed to provide an internationally standardized education for diplomats’ children, has in the last 15 years added prediploma programs for elementary and middle schools, as well as a career certificate for high school students interested in technical fields such as engineering. All of the ib programs have ballooned in popularity in the United States and worldwide, expanding to include nearly 3,500 schools now.
Ms. DeVicariis said San Diego expects to roll out its new lesson materials in September and collect feedback from teachers. “We’re trying really hard to get going on this, because we are already really concerned about the assessment piece coming down the pike,” she said. In comparison to the ib’s use of portfolio assessments—including skits and creative writing—she believes new tests developed for the common core will be “just another standardized test. It does give you a dipstick of what students know and are able to do at that point in time, but the real learning is in the body of work, and always has been.” Sharon Chaney, the coordinator of advanced academics, including ib, for metropolitan Nashville public schools, agreed. “We’re quite concerned about the effects the common-core assessments could have on ib assessments,” she said. “We
Price of Preparedness
Ib’s rising popularity has not been without controversy. Earlier last year, New Hampshire lawmakers attempted to ban ib for “indoctrinating students to be world citizens” and interfering in state control of education. And districts in Idaho and elsewhere have cut ib programs as being too expensive to sustain. The cost to implement the program varies based on the number
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 9, 2013
Education Week - January 9, 2013
State Lawmakers Gear for Action On Broad K-12 Issues Menu
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Teachers Seek Specialized Peer Networks
Shootings Revive Debates on Security
Student-Press Ruling Resonates From 1988
News in Brief
FOCUS ON: INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE: IB Supporters Tout Program’s Links With Common Core
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Federal Effort Aims to Bridge Ed. Tech., Learning Sciences
U.S. Students Exceed International Average, But Lag Some Asian Nations in Math, Science
New Global Results Spark Questions On Finland’s Standing
Head Start Gains Found to Fade By 3rd Grade in Latest Study
Testing Group Selects Exam to Gauge ‘College Readiness’
State Chiefs Pledge Teacher Prep, Licensing Upgrades
Blogs of the Week
Post-Tragedy, Difficult Choices Loom
At Sandy Hook, Grim Day Unfolds
Legal, Logistical Concerns Seen In Call to Arm Adults
Tragedy Sets Off Fresh Debate Over Federal Gun-Policy Role
Advocates Worry Shootings Will Deepen Autism’s Stigma
K-12 Aid Outlook Murky, Despite ‘Cliff’ Deal
District Race to Top Winners Split $400 Million Pot
Top State Ed. Positions Turn Over as Year Ends
CAROLYN LUNSFORD MEARS: After the Tragedy, What Next?
DAVID YOUNG & J.B. BUXTON: Language Education We Can Use
W. JAMES POPHAM: Formative Assessment’s ‘Advocatable Moment’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JEFFREY R. HENIG: Reading the Future of Education Policy
Education Week - January 9, 2013