IB program flourishes at Fort Meade schools

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme, a rigorous, academic curriculum, is offered at three Fort Meade schools for students in first through 12th grades. (File photo by Nate Pesce)

Three Fort Meade schools offer the rigorous International Baccalaureate Programme for students in first through 12th grades.

Founded in 1968, “The International Baccalaureate is a nonprofit educational foundation offering four programs of international education that develops the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. IB offers a continuum of international education,” according to the organization’s website.

“The programmes encourage both personal and academic achievement, challenging students to excel in their studies and in their personal development,” according to the organization’s website.

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme is offered at Manor View Elementary School and is targeted to students ages 3 to 12.

The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme is offered at MacArthur Middle School and is targeted to students ages 11 to 16.

The Middle Years Programmer is a five-year program of study. Students complete one to three years at MacArthur and complete years four and five at Meade High School through the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, which is targeted to students ages 16 to 19.

In order to teach IB programs, schools must be authorized. Every school authorized to offer IB programs is known as an IB World School, according to the website.

Learner Profile

All IB students learn the traditional subject areas: language arts, math, science, social studies and arts. However, students are encouraged to exhibit the IB Learner Profile.

“The IB Learner Profile attributes are inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective,” said Jennifer Quinn, IB coordinator for the IB Diploma Programme at Meade High School.

“The IB mission statement best sums up the benefit to students. Through their participation in IB, we hope that our students will become inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect, and who are active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right,” Quinn said

Mary Austin, IB coordinator for the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, said the IB program was originally designed to be “portable education” that benefits military children.

“It allowed students who traveled from country to country to pursue a consistent educational program,” Austin said in a prior interview with Soundoff! “For these reasons, IB is a natural fit for military children.”

Kristina Korona, IB coordinator for the Middle Years Programme at Meade High School, said IB instruction is student-centered.

“Students learn through an inquiry process,” Korona said. “Each unit of study is based on overarching inquiry questions that guide student learning. Students are often assessed through projects and authentic assessments so they can apply what they learned in real world contexts.

“The [IB] organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment,” Korona said.

Units of Inquiry

Each IB program offers six of its own units of inquiry for instruction. For example, units of inquiry for the Primary Years Programme at Manor View are “Who We Are,” “Where We Are In Place and Time,” “How We Express Ourselves,” “How The World Works,” “How We Organize Ourselves” and “Sharing The Planet.”

The traditional subject areas are taught as part of the inquiry units. Students are encouraged to develop specific skills and strategies such as thinking skills, social skills, communication skills, self-management skills and research skills.

Each IB program culminates in a study project, which allows students to work individually or in groups to research an area of interest and use the skills and knowledge they have acquired throughout the year.

IB juniors and seniors at Meade High study six courses at the college level and have the opportunity to complete a critical thinking course called Theory of Knowledge. Students also conduct independent research resulting in a 4,000-word essay.

Korona said she is passionate about IB because of its lasting impact.

“Not only is it a rigorous, well-rounded education, but it gives purpose to the education that students receive, developing young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world,” she said.

“The IB is not just an academic program. It is about creating open-minded young people who are willing to listen and learn from others and who have the skills to be lifelong learners in our ever- changing world.”

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