The Summit School District is waiting to hear whether it will have two more schools authorized by the International Baccalaureate program. Frisco Elementary and Silverthorne Elementary recently underwent evaluations to determine whether they meet the program's strict standards and merit authorization.
The IB program has three segments: pre-K through fifth grade, grades six through 10 and 11th and 12th grades. The purpose of the program, according to the website, is to "help develop intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world." It encourages what it calls "international-mindedness" in students and works to prepare them for the challenges of the modern age.
Currently, every school in the district has received authorization from the IB program, with the exception of Frisco Elementary, Silverthorne Elementary and the Snowy Peaks High School. The middle school and high school were authorized in 2004. Based on its success, the district then turned its attention to the elementary schools.
Authorization is a long process that requires a visit from representatives of the IB program to ensure that the correct policies and methods are in place. The elementary schools at Frisco and Silverthorne were reviewed in October and December, respectively. Though the official results won't be released until spring. Robin O'Meara, the district's director of instruction, is certain the answer will be positive.
"We're in very good shape," she said.
The IB program affects teachers just as much as students. Several levels of training are required for teachers participating in the program. It must be conducted by a certified IB trainer, meaning that sometimes the teachers must travel to Denver or even out of state. Within the Summit School District are coordinators that work with the teachers to meet the rigorous IB standards.
"The thing that makes it effective is the fact that they're coaching and mentoring the teachers in the IB program," O'Meara said. "That part is so essential for the consistency and the level of excellence and effectiveness."
If Silverthorne Elementary and Frisco Elementary are authorized, then every school within the district, with the exception of Snowy Peaks High School, will have full IB authorization. Only a small handful of schools nationwide carry the distinction of full-district authorization.
Even though technically the district cannot use the "full district authorization" label, O'Meara says it's still an impressive feat.
"We still are very unique, no question about it," she said.
The whole purpose of implementing the IB program at the district schools was to broaden the education of its students.
"It's really preparing kids for the world of college and career," O'Meara said. "It's not just about the academics, it's about who you are as a person and how you're going to interact with each other and the world. It gives them a world view."