Language describing the International Baccalaureate program echoes the Douglas County School District’s explanation of its world-class education curriculum.
But IB is only a piece of the district’s relatively new approach, officials say.
“IB is one of the programming options we have available to us, but we never believe one size fits all,” said Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, the district’s chief academic officer of secondary education.
“As we try to personalize and customize education for students, we have to offer choices,” she said. “Our world-class education is the broad umbrella for all the other programming options that are available. IB is one of those stems in the umbrella.”
The curriculum is designed to keep pace with a rapidly changing world, so “students will be able to compete against students across the nation and the world for the most sought-after careers,” according to the DCSD website.
It emphasizes critical thinking, collaboration, civic responsibility, global awareness, ethics and civic responsibility.
IB, a European-developed program with tiers aimed at specific age groups, helps “develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world,” according to its website. It places a strong emphasis on foreign language, cross-cultural understanding and research.
“Most of the tenets of IB are part of a world-class education,” Jefferson-Jenkins said. “But there are other models of instruction that get to the same world-class targets that IB does.
“Some students and parents in Douglas County may not want that much emphasis on a foreign language. They may want an emphasis on something else.”
STEM-specific, career-focused and technical education programs offered in DCSD all are part of the world-class education curriculum, she said.
STEM students focus heavily on science, technology, engineering and math.
For teachers, IB encourages backward design — starting with the desired educational outcome and planning back from that point. That, too, is part of DCSD’s education model.
ThunderRidge High School, and its feeder middle school Ranch View, recently were authorized to teach IB’s Middle Years Programme (MYP).
IB’s goals align with the Common Core Standards adopted by Colorado and 44 other states. The more rigorous academic standards, announced in 2009, are designed to position students for competition in a global economy. DCSD officials say their program aims to exceed those education reform efforts.