IB Program at CHS nationally recognized

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IB Program at CHS nationally recognized
IB teacher Ken JolingCapital High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program was recently recognized for expanding the program to include IB classes for all juniors and seniors at the school. Capital IB Coordinator Ken Joling has been invited to speak about the program next month at the 2021 IB Global Conference of the Americas.

Capital began “IB for All” in the 2019-20 school year with all juniors and seniors automatically registered for IB classes for language arts. In 2020-21, the program expanded to include social studies.

Juniors take either IB English Literature or IB English Language and Literature, as well as IB History of the Americas. At the senior level, all students remain in IB English. In Social Studies, there are two sections of IB History of the 20th Century and three sections of IB Theory of Knowledge during the school day.

“The idea is not only to create equality of outcome (especially for students and families who are less familiar with navigating the system), but also to raise the standard of pedagogical outcomes for all students,” Joling said.

“There are many tangible benefits of the program such as developing academic skills, being prepared for college and receiving college credit. But perhaps it is the IB Learner Profile -- the soft skills which are developed which align so closely with the OSD's strategic plan -- which provide the most value,” Joling said. “The traits of an IB learner, which are emphasized in every IB class, are to be inquisitive, open minded, knowledgeable, reflective, courageous, communicative, balanced, principled and thoughtful. Who wouldn't want their child to exhibit those characteristics?”

Most students at Capital say they are happy to participate in IB classes because it prepares them for college-level rigor and allows them the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school.

“I want people to see me as a leader, and taking IB classes will show I'm curious, hard working and a critical thinker,” said 11th grader Rahma Gaye.

Senior Shaynan Montenegro added, "I took IB classes to be better prepared for college, cultivate my knowledge and perceptions, and have a better chance of getting into a selective university. Also, the IB will provide me with a solid foundation of skills for my higher education."

“Capital alumni who took IB classes tend to perform well in college and many of them credit the IB program for preparing them for success,” Joling said. IB students build critical thinking skills, learn to manage their time, practice academic writing, and experience long research and writing projects that are common in college.

“IB instruction is rigorous, but it’s exactly that rigor that kept me engaged throughout my last two years of high school,” said 2016 Capital High graduate Samia Saliba, who later earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University.

She continued, “IB classes also set advanced expectations for students, which is extremely beneficial in preparing students for college instruction. They are challenging, but never in a way that feels discouraging. What I remember most clearly from my time in IB is that every single one of my teachers was so engaging and the subject matter was challenging and interesting.”

Capital alum Olivia Wittenberg graduated in 2016 before earning her bachelor’s degree from University of Colorado Boulder. She then earned a Fulbright Grant to study and teach in Argentina.

“I loved the IB program and I do feel like it gave me excellent preparation for college, especially when it came to essay writing,” Wittenberg said. “I'll never forget getting a perfect score on my first International Affairs paper and thinking -- wow, so it was worth it. I watched my peers struggling to make the transition from high school to college, but I felt at several points that my freshman year classes were easy.”

Wittenberg added, “Critical thinking was the most valuable thing IB taught me - how to analyze information and respond through effective written communication. If you don't have that skill down pat, you will really struggle to be successful moving forward.”

IB teachers and coordinators are looking forward to seeing the benefits of IB for All now that school is back in session full time at Capital, Joling said. “If the IB for All model has the impact we hope, we should see numbers climbing in History and English tests. This is particularly important as we seek to improve equity of outcome by making the IB program available to all students.”