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IB accreditation continues to grow in Oxford Schools



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December 26, 2012 - Daniel Axford Elementary is the third school in the district to receive International Baccalaureate (IB) accreditation, along with Oxford High School and Oxford Elementary.

"We're extremely pleased with the amount of work and effort the Daniel Axford staff has put into making this come into fruition," said James Schwarz, assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.

"It's been literally hundred hours of work on every staff member's part over the course of the last couple of years to make things happen," he continued. "All in the best interest of kids and integrating all the best learning techniques and styles in a way that caps into the IB learner attributes."

While it seems like an almost insurmountable task to become IB, Schwarz said he is sure DA is a "breathing a sigh of relief." However, he said the process continues and there will be another visitation from IB staff members to evaluate the results from this point to that point.

"Authorization is a huge step, but it's certainly not the end," added Schwarz "The cycle continues to roll on, they'll continue to work and continue to refine what they started in this process."

There are currently four other schools "in the hopper," for candidacy and working towards visitations from IB, which are to take place between now and next fall, according to Schwarz. One of which is Oxford Middle School, who recently received feedback on the final application for their "Middle Years Program" (MYP).

OMS Principal Kenneth Weaver said they are currently in the implementation phase.

"We're really in the process of now of learning to walk the talk," he said. "Teachers are each in a different spot as far as how they're working on that, but they are working towards that continuum."

Weaver said teachers have written what's called "unit planners," which is more of a "philosophical approach" to the Michigan curriculum.

"It's basically utilizing best teaching practices in the classroom and trying to get kids to think critically and trying as much as possible in more relevant situations that would be more of a real world experience," he said.

Each "unit" Weaver said can be between two to six weeks. Weaver said IB is more focused on project learning that applies using the concepts learned in class rather than just taking a test.

"It's taking what you're learning and actually using that knowledge and applying it in a situation you're going to have to construct," he said. "(For example,) you are a scientist and you've been asked to look at water conservation and water contamination in the area and recommend a site for a factory that uses water or might contaminate water and where it should be located or something along those lines."

"What I am most impressed by is I see teachers having really good instructional conversations (with each other). I think we do that now more than we've ever done it and we're continuing to do even more at the Middle School level and at the high school level," added Weaver.

"The best way to get better at your job is to talk to another professional, to look at yourself and what you're doing and then also bounce ideas off another professional. Research has always shown that is some of the best professional involvement you can get."

Schwarz is glad to see the MYP progressing and right on target where they thought they would be in the process.

"The unit planners, the assessments, and the full timeline are moving along as we anticipated," he said. "Our staff has done a tremendous job in preparing for those applications and the upcoming authorization."

OMS is expecting a visit from IB staff members sometime between now and fall of 2013 for authorization, but like Schwarz, Weaver said the process doesn't end after authorization.

"It is a long process of becoming an IB school and changing over and really embracing that approach," he said. "We look forward to the journey and it's been exciting so far."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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