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All Oxford schools Intl. Baccalureate candidates

May 19, 2010 - Oxford Community Schools is now one step closer to becoming an International Baccalaureate school district after all seven schools were approved as IB candidate schools.

"We are moving forward nicely and we are very excited about it," said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum James Schwarz.

Each school in the district received a individual report back from IB, which provided positive feedback about their application that was submitted before April 1, 2010.

According to Schwarz, the next phase of the IB process is to get teachers, staff and administration trained and begin the process of rewriting their curriculum.

The first phase of training begins this summer, while the rewriting process begins next fall.

"We have a large core of training that we are going to do over the summertime, where we are going to get key teachers involved in (IB) the training first," Schwarz said.

Training for teachers takes place sporadically all over the country according to Schwarz.

"You have to enroll in a session that meets your particular school level, whether it be primary year programme, middle years programme or diploma programme," Schwarz said. "You also have to find a session within that level that touches on your specific speciality area," he added.

He added that before IB conducts any on-site training in the district, the school districts must send at least one teacher per grade level per building to an off-site training location.

"Before they will bring a trainer on site, you have to show that you are committed to this process," Schwarz said.

The training for the diploma programme (high school) teachers takes place in late June in Lake Tahoe, California, the middle years (middle school) teachers will go to New Jersey at the end of June and the bulk of primary years (elementary) teachers will go to Toronto, Canada in August, according to Schwarz.

"They will then complete the training for everyone else on-site in the district throughout next year, which would happen during our professional development days that we have scheduled through the year," Schwarz said.

Once those teachers are trained, they would be able to help coach other teachers before and during their training sessions.

When asked about the cost of training the entire staff, Schwarz indicated that the district does not have a finalized figure because they were still waiting to hear what the cost of on-site training would be from IB consultants.

However, Schwarz did indicate that the cost of training the 65 staff members, including administrators and teacher leaders, would be around $50,000.

Schwarz said that the registration cost and the cost associated with attending the training sessions would be paid for out of the districts professional development fund.

The on-site training would cost the district about half the cost of the off-site training.

IB coordinators are also included in the 65 staff members who will be trained this summer. The district currently has an IB coordinator from each school, who will serve half-time.

Christine Vince, a fourth-grade teacher at Lakeville, will be the coordinator for both Lakeville and Clear Lake Elementaries. Rachel Hart, a fourth grade teacher at Oxford Elementary, will serve as the coordinator for OES, and Mary Kraniak, a fourth-grade teacher at OES will be Daniel Axford's IB coordinator. Leonard Elementary Principal Paul McDevitt will serve as Leonard's IB coordinator.

The IB coordinator for Oxford Middle School will be Media Specialist Marion Barren, while Oxford High School's IB coordinators will be social studies teacher Kurt Nuss and current Assistant Principal Glenda Williams.

Schwarz also said that teachers would also begin to rewrite the curriculum in addition to the training they would undergo over the next year.

"There is the big task of writing the unit planners for IB," Schwarz said. "The IB stipulates that you have to integrate your subject matter curriculum around their pillars of enquiry."

According to Schwarz, IB looks at how well a district took all of their subject areas and integrated the concepts in a subject area towards a project based learning style and how well the district meets the needs of what that unit of inquiry asks for.

"Things become a lot less departmentalized and you are integrating real world projects, activities that combine concepts across subject matter," Schwarz explained

The challenge, according to Schwarz, is making each building unique from each other.

"You can't just take a third grade sample and stick it in a copy machine and send it to all of the buildings...when they come out, they want to see how you organized that curriculum and how you pulled together all of those concepts in those units at each grade level in each building," Schwarz said.

"Every building has to have their unique footprint in their grade level plans," he added. "Your building is your work and it is really taking a look at each building uniquely; each building is a unique entity among itself and it is reflected in it's own curriculum."

The consideration of the seven schools does not guarantee that all seven schools will be granted final approval as IB World Schools.

If everything goes according to plan, the district hopes to begin the authorization visits in October 2011.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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