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State High Becomes An International Baccalaureate World School

With its newest academic choice, State College Area High School now belongs to a worldwide community.

International Baccalaureate, an educational organization that offers a globally-focused curriculum, recently approved State High to be an IB World School. Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, State High will offer two IB options for 11th-12th grades: the IB Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Programme.

In becoming an IB World School, State High joins more than 4,700 schools with IB programmes.

“This is an exciting addition to State High’s wide range of academic opportunities, making it even more diverse,” Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said. “Families who either wish to continue IB study from previous schools or who desire to experience it now have the opportunity. The program includes several courses that compliment our current offerings from which students may obtain college credit during their time at State High. ”

This winter and next spring, State High plans to give IB presentations in 9th-10th grade social studies classes, survey students about their interest, and provide information at the curriculum showcase next year and in the 2019-2020 Course Selection Guide. The district also will hold parent information sessions.

Students will choose IB classes in February during the course selection time. They can embark on full programmes or opt to take courses a la carte.

“I am happy to be a part of offering this globally minded program because I believe our students will be entering a much more globally minded world as they grow up,” said State High Associate Principal Kathy Pechtold, the IB Diploma Program Head of Schools. “It’s an excellent addition to the high school, and I look forward to working closely with our IB students and families.”

Under the IB Diploma Programme, students will take at least six courses during their junior and senior years from six curriculum groups — Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and Art. Selections must come from all the groups. Some courses are divided into standard and high (two years) levels.

State High’s initial offerings will be Literature and Language; Language Acquisition B for students with at least two to three years experience in French, German, Latin and Spanish and Language Acquisition ab initio for students just beginning their course of study;  Business and Management; Economics; History; World Religions; Physics; Environmental Systems and Societies; Sports, Exercise and Health Science; Mathematics (Analysis and Approaches); Mathematics (Applications and Interpretation); Music; Film; and Visual Arts.

Courses are graded from 1 to a top score of 7; diplomas require a minimum of 24 points. Students also must complete an interdisciplinary Theory of Knowledge course that explores ways of thinking, drawing from the six curriculum groups and capped by a 1,600 word essay. In addition, a 4,000 word extended essay on a topic of choice and an individualized creativity, activity, or service project are required— each worth one point toward a diploma.

“I think that one of the main advantages to the programme, to attempting the full diploma, would be the interconnectedness of the programme and the core components, which really tie everything together and build the student as a researcher and as a self-directed learner,” IB Diploma Programme Coordinator Jennifer Schreiber said.

The IB Career-related Programme comprises four core components — professional and personal skills, language development, a service learning project, and a reflective project exploring an ethical dilemma in a career studies area — as well as a chosen Career and Technical Center pathway and two IB Diploma Programme courses.

Shelly Ishler, the IB Career-related Programme Coordinator, said the programme aims to teach personal development, intercultural understanding, effective communication, thinking processes and applied ethics. Like the IB Diploma Programme, the career-related path offers a curriculum that seeks to foster connections and promote deeper thinking as well as teach in-depth material, Ishler said.

“When schools see an IB course on a transcript, their ears go up,” Ishler said. “They think, ‘This kid is really pushing himself or herself beyond what’s expected.’ ”

In addition, IB students can earn college credit from some of the courses. While Advanced Placement classes also provide this opportunity — and State High has many choices — Schreiber said IB courses differ from AP ones by measuring learning at various points in addition to a final test, and from being less content-driven and more holistic.

As a prime example of IB’s approach, Schreiber pointed to the Theory of Knowledge course which links to every content area and explores how we understand the world around us.

“It’s not about being right or wrong,” she said. “It’s about developing your thinking and supporting what you know with how you know it, and how we know it to be true.”

By Chris Rosenblum

For more information about IB, please visit our IB website here.