I.B. diplomas all around | AspenTimes.com

I.B. diplomas all around

“I.B. happy” may well be the cheer coming from Aspen High School this week, as the first class of International Baccalaureate (I.B.) diploma candidates all passed the rigorous set of exams needed to attain the diploma.The 100 percent success rate for the nine graduating seniors who worked toward the diploma is a remarkable achievement for such a new program, according to Aspen High School principal Kendall Evans.The I.B. program, which offers college level classes in six disciplines, was introduced at Aspen High in 2000, but the first I.B. courses weren’t officially offered until 2002.”There are schools that see a 100 percent failure for their rate first year, so to have a 100 percent pass rate is really quite an indication of the quality of our teaching staff and the hard work of the students,” Evans said.Any upperclassmen can take I.B. classes, but only a select few (nine this year) attempt to earn an I.B. diploma. The diploma requires a pass mark on externally graded exams in English, history, math, science, a foreign language and an elective. It also requires 150 hours of community service, a 4,000-word research paper and an interdisciplinary class in “the theory of knowledge.”Katie Cumnock, who will attend Cornell University in the fall, said the rumors of I.B. students dealing with absurd workloads and high levels of stress are overblown. Cumnock earned one college credit at Cornell for her performance on the tests.”It’s a lot of work but it’s pretty rewarding because you learn discipline and perseverance,” Cumnock said. “The hardest part was writing the [4,000-word] independent essay. That involved a lot of research. On the whole, it rarely added up to more than a couple hours a night.” I.B. coordinator Kathy Burson said the high marks among the diploma candidates would not have been possible without grants provided by the Aspen Education Foundation, which funded training for teachers of I.B. classes.”The support we received from Kendall [Evans], the administration, and the Aspen Education Foundation was just remarkable,” Burson said. “They did everything they could to set the teachers up to be successful.”While nine students received an I.B. diploma, Aspen High students took a total of 130 I.B. exams as part of their regular schedule. Along with the 100 percent success rate of the diploma candidates, Aspen students had a 96 percent pass rate across the board.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com

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