Ohio school to start International Baccalaureate program

Claire Foltz is excited that multiple-choice tests are becoming somewhat passé at Glen Oak High School in Ohio. Foltz and her classmates will soon be able to enroll in International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, which aim “to develop lifelong learners who think globally and act locally to create a better and more peaceful world,” reports CantonRep.com.
Glen Oak High School has gone through a three-year process of preparing to become an IB school because of the way that it forms and shapes learners and citizens. The school is only one of 22 in Ohio that offer the program, and part of an international community of 2,500 IB schools.
CantonRep.com says that the main difference between IB and traditional classes revolves around the methods through which students are “demonstrating knowledge.” Traditional classes frequently rely on students regurgitating information to determine whether they’ve reached a certain level of mastery. IB classes ask students to go deeper, researching topics and applying that learning to their local community.
At Glen Oak, the IB classes will allow students to demonstrate knowledge through oral presentations, large research papers, and completion of community service projects. Foltz described her excitement with the transition: ““I like to be able to explain myself and I like presentations . . . so I think it’s going to be a lot more effective for me. I think it’s a good change.”
Classes will be offered across the spectrum of academic content, including: “varying levels of English, French and Spanish, global politics, biology and physics and varying levels of math, music and visual arts.”
Administrators at Glen Oak are excited about the benefits that IB classes will have for students beyond their time in the classroom. Emily Palmer, the program’s coordinator, feels that by exposing students to a more robust learning process they are better prepared to become lifelong learners. She said the goal is to have students, “believe in the heart of IB, which is to create a better world.”
In The Content of Their Character, Notre Dame sociologist David Sikkink describes the IB model as “built on a broad and demanding liberal arts curriculum that includes ‘language acquisition’ and study of ‘individuals and societies,’ both of which help encourage an awareness of cultures worldwide. The program also requires the completion of an independent research essay and a service project.”
The IB model provides coherence for the work of a school beyond granting diplomas. Through its required capstone project, students must build the skills of independent inquiry. Sikkink says that the IB students studied in the School Cultures and Student Formation Project at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture had to “be experts at managing their own time, since they were urged to maintain high academic performance in a very rigorous program.” The required service project can form dispositions of social concern that extend beyond the school walls.
Glen Oak anticipates that the IB program will draw families and students that are committed to this model of learning and service. Already, they have students and families who are excited about pursuing the character and skills outlined in the IB learner profile.
The IB learner profile is helpful to educators in defining the qualities that they seek in their students—and then matching their curriculum and pedagogy to those goals.  It is also useful in helping a school determine whether it should offer the IB program.