Source: Sherman Publications

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Entire district on track to be IB authorized

by Trevor Keiser

August 14, 2013

Oxford Community Schools' (OCS) journey to being the first Michigan school district with preK-12 International Baccalaureate Authorization could be complete this fall following the authorization of Oxford Middle School set to take place this September.

This final step will result in Oxford Schools not only having district-wide implementation and accreditation, but featuring the most certified IB teachers and administrators (over 250) in the world. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Dr. James Schwarz said the visit encompasses not only the middle school but also grades nine and 10 at the high school.

"We are very excited to be hosting our last IB visit with our Middle Years program.  The middle and high school staff have done a tremendous amount of work to prepare for this visit," he said. "I am certain they are all looking forward to the visit as they have spent the last three years rewriting curriculums and changing instructional delivery methods to best accommodate the move to Common Core national standards and IB standards."

"Upon a favorable outcome to their visit, we especially look forward to becoming the first Pre-K through grade 12 IB district in the state," continued Schwarz. "This distinction highlights the unique work ethic of our staff, who have individually spent literally hundreds of hours of rewriting curriculums, training, writing unit planners, and researching best practices (much of which on their own time) to facilitate this instructional shift within our district. Our staff truly embodies and owns the IB process at all school levels, in all classrooms, and in all educational support roles within our district."

On Aug. 8, Oxford Schools announced Clear Lake Elementary, Lakeville Elementary, Leonard Elementary and the Oxford Early Learning Center as the newest Oxford schools to be authorized and join the list as International Baccalaureate World Schools.

All four schools are a part of the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), the goal of which is to "nurture a balanced learner who is well equipped with not only knowledge, but the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in our rapidly changing world." The essential elements of PYP include: The Learner Profile, International Mindedness, Knowledge, Skills, Concepts, Attitudes, Actions and Exhibition.

Clear Lake, Lakeville and Leonard Elementary Schools, as well as OELC began their work toward IB authorization in 2010; however, formal IB trainings and preparation began in the fall of 2009 and teacher trainings in the summer of 2010. The first school to become IB authorized was the Diploma Program, which includes grades 11 and 12 at the Oxford High School. Of the nine schools that comprise the district seven have been authorized IB, the only school not apart of the IB Program is the districts alternative high school, Bridges.

"Bridges is not part of an official IB program as their curriculum is largely remedial and vocational-based, which better serves this student population," Schwarz said. "The teachers do utilize some of the IB philosophies and planning where appropriate, however."

The International Baccalaureate Organization aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end, the IBO works with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programs encourage students to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

For more information about International Baccalaureate visit www.ibo.org