Washburn High School getting four grades of IB

Washburn High School getting four grades of IB

Washburn High School has gotten a boost in its quest for more rigor with district approval of extending the International Baccalaureate program to all four grades.
The district has approved the International Baccalaureate Organization’s Middle Years Programme for Washburn. That program covers grades six through 10, and some of Washburn’s feeder middle schools already have it. Washburn already offers the IBO’s Diploma Programme for juniors and seniors.
The news was greeted enthusiastically by Washburn parents at a southwest Minneapolis candidate forum Monday night. “It kind of fills out our IB curriculum in the way we were hoping for,” Julie Ristau, co-chair of the school’s parent-staff council, said Tuesday. She said that it will also create more equity in offerings across high schools.
The addition of IB curriculum is part of an effort to strengthen the rigor at all district high schools. Southwest and Henry high schools long have had the upper-grades program, and it is now at all high schools except South, which chose to focus on advanced placement courses. The middle-grades program is in place or has been approved for all schools except South and North.
Principal Carol Markham-Cousins said the school has been seeking the middle-grades program for four years, and that about 70 percent of teachers have been trained in it. The approval means the rest will be trained, she said. Chief Academic Officer Emily Puetz said part of the delay was to consider several possible routes besides IB.
Middle Years Programme isn’t simply a pre-diploma program although students who have participated in it tend to be more successful in the later program, according to Paula Palmer, the district’s IB coordinator.
”It’ll be a very inquiry-based method of learning,” Palmer said, referring to a style of learning that involves students as active seekers of knowledge rather than passive recipients. The middle-grades program involves central ilinking ideas and an inter-disciplinary approach among eight subject areas.
Some Washburn parents have expressed discontent with what they perceive as a lack of rigor, especially in core classes for highly motivated 9th and 10th graders and in getting higher-level classes for juniors and seniors.
“I’m just pleased that we got it.” Markham-Cousins said, adding regarding the district: “They know we’ve been adamant.”
Among elementary schools, Whittier and Hall international schools have the IB program for primary grades, and Bancroft is implementing it.