- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (AP) - The number of international baccalaureate programs in Michigan has nearly tripled in five years as parents and school districts scramble for challenging curricula to help boost student college applications and prepare students to compete globally.

Schools in Livonia, Fenton and Clinton Township are among those that have pushed the total number offering the program last year to 83, up from 27 in 2009. Another 30 schools are waiting to be certified to teach the rigorous courses with a world view, according to The Detroit News ( https://bit.ly/1zXJMrP ).

Michigan had just five such programs in 2005 and has vaulted to be among the leaders in the country in the number of schools applying to offer the curriculum. There are programs in every major city in the state except for Grand Rapids, according to Colleen Duffy, communications and marketing associate manager for the International Baccalaureate Organization in Bethesda, Maryland.

“As we become more globally independent, we need people who can truly understand and think critically about world affairs,” said Polly Bachrouche, IB program coordinator for Farmington Public Schools. “It’s definitely a higher level of thinking than what was viewed as traditional, and is the best possible preparation for college.”

That’s what attracted Dominic Mularoni to the program at Farmington’s Harrison High School.

He really likes art, but in IB courses, he discusses art and ethics rather than textures and brush strokes.

“I’m interested in the ethical interpretation of how society views the Heidelberg art project compared to the graffiti art by Banksy,” he said, referring to the pseudonymous English graffiti artist and activist, whose real name reportedly is Paul Horner.

Dominic studies that question in his theory of knowledge class.

“Banksy does a lot of graffiti and a lot of people want to keep them as treasures,” the 17-year-old senior said. “Because it is graffiti, it’s illegal, but nobody really is trying to track him down.”

On the other hand, Dominic said, the Heidelberg project also is art, “but it’s viewed as a good thing because it’s helping to clean up the neighborhood. So how come Banksy’s art is treated with the same respect as Heidelberg art, which is legal?”

The IB foundation began the program in 1968 and has developed into a full continuum of education for students, spanning the years from kindergarten to pre-university around the globe. Schools use courses developed by IB’s academic department, and a school’s implementation of the course is evaluated every few years.

It is a rigorous curriculum emphasizing math, sciences, world literature, history, foreign languages and fine arts. The courses focus on international mindedness, and analytical and writing skills, IB officials say.

“Any student can enroll, but we suggest they take Honors classes in their ninth- and 10th-grade year as preparation, but if they choose not to, they can still enroll,” said Patrick Adams, DeLaSalle Collegiate High School principal.

High school students also are required to take a course in the theory of knowledge, which focuses on critical thinking. They also must complete a series of creative, action and service projects, and must finish a college-level, 4,000-word extended essay.

The program can cost in the six figures for districts to implement, but the costs to parents are minimal and, according to Associate Principal Christopher Smith of the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, fees can be waived.

“We are a public school so the only fee a student must pay is $900 to take the test as a senior, which includes shipping and grading by examiners all over the world,” Smith said. “But as with advanced placement tests, which students also must pay for, those fees are waived if students qualify for free and reduced lunch.”

The four IB programs are available to students ages 3-19 from a range of cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. There are 3,954 IB schools worldwide, up from 2,555 five years ago.

___

Information from: The Detroit News, https://detnews.com/

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide