Aspen High wants to make International Baccalaureate classes more inclusive
September 25, 2017
Education officials are entertaining more ways to open up an advanced academic program geared toward juniors and seniors at Aspen High School.
Courses offered through the International Baccalaureate Program, a Switzerland-based supplemental education system, were introduced to Aspen High in 2000, making it one of the smallest high schools in America to do so at the time.
During a presentation to the Board of Education at its Sept. 18 meeting, IB coordinator Tameira Wilson said a push is underway to make the program more inclusive to all students. Some students might have a full course-load of IB classes, while others might opt to take one or two per semester.
Two IB courses — a film class and psychology class — debuted this semester, and Wilson said their offerings are intended, in part, to capture the interest of students who might otherwise not participate in the rigorous program.
"IB psychology reaches out to a different group of students that may not have thought that IB is for them," Wilson told the board.
Data Wilson provided to The Aspen Times show that the IB participation rate has been more or less flat over the past three years.
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In 2015, 90 students out of 128 eligible students participated in the program; in 2016, 103 out of 146 took IB classes; and in 2017, 100 out of 133 were involved.
Occasionally a sophomore will take a IB course in math and language acquisition "because that is their natural progression," Wilson noted.
Students in IB are graded on a weighted GPA scale from 0 to 5.0, and the experience arms them well for collegiate academics, Wilson said.
"Any student is going to be better prepared ahead of college, and I think that's really important to emphasize," she said, noting that getting in as many students as possible in the IB program — as opposed to just the top 10 percent of the class — is the goal.
"No matter what, you're going to benefit from the skills that the IB philosophy is giving you," she said.
For the 2017-18 year, the high school has 18 students who are candidates for earning a full IB diploma, Wilson told the board.
"We really want to have kids that want to take on a challenge, to take on the full challenge of diploma," Principal Tharyn Mulberry said.
The school also plans to bring back former IB students to share with students how the courses impacted their studies in college.
"That will be really exciting to find out because that's something we will be looking at for long time," board member Sheila Wills said.