The SAISD board approved a motion to allow Harris Middle School, Longfellow Middle School, and Jefferson High School to proceed with their International Baccalaureate Programme (IB) applications. Harris and Longfellow will apply for the Middle Years Programme (MYP), and Jefferson will apply for both MYP for ninth and 10th grades and IB diploma programme for 11th and 12th grades.
The first year of the two-to-three year process is a planning period leading up to the formal application. Harris, Longfellow, and Jefferson have the opportunity to make their formal applications on April 1. The schools should have no problem proceeding to the next step of the process, said Matt Weber, deputy superintendent for instruction.
It is important for schools in participating feeder patterns to enter the program at or near the same time. This allows students to experience continuity in the curriculum and prepare to take on the rigor of the diploma programme, Weber said.
“In order to establish what we’d like to see with the diploma programme at Burbank (High School) and Jefferson those feeder patters need to be established at the same time so that we have the continuity,” he said.
The program does not require staff with specific degrees or IB credentials to begin the application process, a concern voiced by Trustee Steve Lecholop (D1).
“Are we going to see a lot of turnover, especially at the two middle schools, as we try to find teachers that are qualified, if there is a different to qualification for the IB programme?” Lecholop asked.
The program will allow time for current teachers to be trained in IB curriculum, and continuing education is required as long as their school participates in an IB programme. Faculty at campuses currently in the application process will spend the next year preparing curriculum and instruction, including significant teacher training, which Weber hopes to bring to San Antonio.
For now, the schools in the applications process, which includes Woodlawn Academy in its second year of application, are where they need to be in terms of teacher preparation. Weber comes from McAllen ISD, which has the largest IB network in the country. Having seen a district-wide implementation, he feels good about SAISD’s progress.
“As a matter of fact, I really feel that we’re ahead of the game,” Weber said.
The district has dealt recently with some discontent over previous administrations’ lack of support for the IB programme. Trustee Ed Garza (D7) called for ample time to communicate with teachers who will be affected.
The district intends to discuss the imminent changes with all faculty at Woodlawn very soon, and then work with the schools still at the beginning of the application process, Weber said.
Teachers who do not want to make the transition to IB will have options to transition. Because the programs will be school-wide, students Harris, Longfellow, Woodlawn, and ninth and 10th grade at Jefferson, will be automatically enrolled. At Jefferson, students will have the choice whether to participate in the diploma programme. Due to the increased rigor of those years, student buy-in is essential, Weber said. Students who opt not to go for the diploma will still have access to dual credit, AP classes and other advanced options.
After the meeting, SAISD executive director of curriculum and instruction, Lisa Riggs, said that the ninth and 10th grade MYP would most likely come to Burbank High School as well, though this was not discussed at the meeting.
Top image: Burbank IB students in the lab. Photo courtesy of SAISD.