As Lake City High School ends its high school International Baccalaureate program, Spokane’s St. George’s School is starting one.
The private school will become the only one in the region to offer the globally recognized rigorous liberal arts curriculum – one of about 20 in Washington. The school’s incoming freshmen will be the first to qualify for the program.
For St. George’s, the program seemed like a natural fit.
“We already expect four years of English, four years of math, four years of history, four years of science, three years of a foreign language, and we require the arts, so it seemed to me and the board that our curriculum would segue easily into the IB,” said Joe Kennedy, the head of St. George’s School.
International Baccalaureate requires six core classes per school day during a student’s junior and senior years and results in a specialized diploma recognized globally. Students take rigorous courses in social sciences, English, science, math and the arts. It also requires students to demonstrate proficiency in a second language.
“IB is considered the most rigorous program in the world,” Kennedy said, and the “school was looking to be more globally recognized.”
Parents have been receptive to the new program, Kennedy said. Teachers are also pleased with shifting focus from Advanced Placement to IB. AP, another rigorous curriculum option, offers high-level individual classes with an opportunity to earn college credit upon passing an exam.
“I think it will improve the conversation at SGS, not only because of its emphasis on depth and breadth but also because it will allow students to participate in difficult IB classes, whether or not they pursue the IB diplomas,” said Chad Rigsby, an English teacher.
But St. George’s School, where tuition costs about $17,000 for students in sixth-12th grade, may not long be the only school offering the program. Spokane Public Schools is considering the option too.
“There isn’t another IB program on this side of the mountains,” said Superintendent Shelley Redinger.
“We are at the exploration point of how we would bring it in, and we want to bring the community into the conversation,” she said. “We need to ask a lot of questions: What kind of program options do we want to bring into the district for students?”
Redinger said those community conversations will begin in the next few months. If the program is a go, it could begin in the fall of 2013.
Coeur d’Alene School District’s Lake City High School was the only school in the region to offer the program in recent years. But that will end this fall after the school board voted Monday to end the district’s affiliation with IB.
The program had come under increasing scrutiny and criticism by some that its lessons are too liberal.