Setting a higher standard
The Woodburn School District's International Baccalaureate (IB) program is approaching its 20th year and there is good news to share for interested students and their families.
Measure 98 passed by voters is funding college-level courses in high school. But the Woodburn School District began offering opportunities for college credit at the high school level 20 years ago through its IB program.
The International Baccalaureate program began in 1965 in Switzerland to establish a program of studies that would assure quality educational standards for students studying in schools throughout the world. Today the International Baccalaureate Program is offered at 3875 schools in 147 countries.
Students have the opportunity to take individual classes, or pursue the IB Diploma, which is recognized world-wide for its academic rigor. Successful diploma candidates can earn the equivalent of an Associate's Degree upon graduation.
The program in Woodburn is substantial in size. There were 316 total course registrations, and 112 seniors are finishing one or more IB courses. Twenty-six teachers have been trained to provide IB curriculum through 12 different courses and three languages.
In addition to developing critical thinking skills, the IB program provides other benefits for students. Students take part in education programs that can lead them to some of the most prestigious universities in the world. The program also helps students become more culturally aware through its bilingual-biliterate requirements, and ability to engage in a global society.
Raising the bar
Doug Peterson is the IB Coordinator for the Woodburn High School. He says that the program is beneficial in that students have the support of teachers and counselors following up with them individually. This type of support is not always available in college or university settings.
"They're taking college-level courses with high school support," said Peterson. "This provides our students with a better chance for success after they graduate."
In addition to college credit, Peterson says the program teaches students to be critical thinkers.
"As a society, we need people who analyze information and form their own opinions as opposed to just accepting things at face value," he said. "That's a large part of the IB program."
The Woodburn School District introduced an IB program at the high school in 2002. (The program is offered in all of the small high schools except for the Wellness, Business and Sports School, which offers the Advanced Placement program instead.) Students can register during their junior year.
Laurie Cooper is Director of Teaching and Proficiency Learning for Woodburn. She also serves as its IB Program Director for the school district. She says that having the program has raised the bar for the academic performance of all Woodburn students.
"The IB academic requirements are tough. This program showed us that our students are capable of achieving high academic standards with the proper support," she said.
Cooper says that having the IB program and curriculum in place prepared the school district for more challenging academic standards from the Oregon State Department of Education.
"This is the standard our kids can and should reach. It has transformed the way we think as educators about what they are capable of academically. It has raised the bar for all our students, and they are meeting or exceeding our expectations," said Cooper.
International Baccalaureate program
Interested in learning more about Woodburn's IB program? Find out more at: woodburnsd.org/international-baccalaureate-program/