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Posted on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 11 a.m.

Supporters tout benefits of planned Dexter High School International Baccalaureate program

By Lisa Carolin

Dexter High School is on track to adopt the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for 11th and 12-graders in the 2012-13 school year, and Monday parents got a chance to learn more about it. The program had been considered for next school year but last fall, Superintendent Mary Marshall, along with members of the school board, agreed to take an additional year of planning to implement the program.

The program provides a curriculm, which its website describes as "an academically challenging and balanced program ... that prepares students ... for success at university and life beyond." On Monday night, I.B. trained teachers, alumni of I.B. programs and an undergraduate admissions counselor and a professor from the University of Michigan participated in a round-table discussion at the high school.

"To have I.B. as an option is a benefit to our district," Marshall told the audience of about 50 people.

I.B. Diploma Programme coordinator Kim Lund, chairwoman of world languages at Dexter high school and a trained teacher in I.B. French, said that prior to teaching, she was an engineer who traveled around the world.

"Employers look for well-rounded employees with perspective," she said. "I.B. is for students who want to know how things work and why they are the way they are."

She said that in the I.B. foreign language program, there are no textbooks. Students learn from poems and song lyrics.

"You learn in context," she explained. "Students might have to write a brochure or have a debate. It mimics how we learn our first language."

Advanced placement mathematics teacher Dewey Scott said I.B. mathematics has more focus on probability and statistics than regular math, as well as a big focus on vectors (geometric objects that have both length and direction,) but does not go into as much depth as AP calculus.

AP U.S. history teacher Angela Chea, who is trained to teach I.B. world history, said I.B. is for students who are curious and motivated to learn new things.

"I grew up in a community with little diversity, and when I went to college many ideas shocked me," she said. "But I embraced the experience and traveled and studied foreign languages. A lot of students in Dexter haven't been exposed to ideas and people from other backgrounds. I.B. will open other options for them."

University of Michigan undergraduate student Ethan Stockdale was an I.B. diploma recipient in high school and said that taking I.B. classes is similar to being in college.

"In I.B., we analyzed and compared and contrasted things and it required more critical thinking," he said. "It helped me meet people interested in more academic things. C.A.S. (the Creativity, Action and Service component of the I.B. Diploma Programme) forced me to work with other people."

Moira Poe, an undergraduate admissions counselor at the University of Michigan, explained that when she reviews Dexter applicants, she compares them with other Dexter applicants, not with applicants from other schools, and looks for how students challenge themselves as well as how they do in their courses.

Michael Makin, a professor of slavic languages and literature at U-M and a Dexter parent, was adamant about the benefits of the I.B. program. He said it teaches students good writing skills and prepares them to ask good questions and not just reiterate information.

"Ultimately it is up to the undergraduate to find his or her own way," Makin told the audience. "I.B. prepares a student extremely well to find their way. You will do very well at a school like U of M if you do I.B."

The roundtable was recorded and will be posted on the Dexter High School I.B. website.


Shawn Letwin

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 2:02 a.m.

With all of the cuttin and a pastin to put together the last comment (can no longer view before submit like you could before here) I intended to include that that the district already has $500,000 on the books to be spent this year and the costs from the FACT sheet are for the proposed IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) in Dexter. Sorry for the inadvertent omission!

Shawn Letwin

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 1:06 a.m.

It may sound like a great program and it may be a great program, but anything, especially great things do not come without a cost. Per a FACT sheet from the district, here is some information to consider as all school districts face significant reductions in funding. 1-Salary costs=$94,411 (not including insurance and benefits) 2-$1,000 per building added to budget (Cornerstone, Bates and Wylie) for curriculum items (books, supplies for science, additional books for students to read at their levels) 3-$700 training costs for EACH staff member (Cornerstone, Bates and Wylie) 4-$4,000 one time application fee 5-$9,500 charged annually until school authorization (takes 3-4 years) {document does not make clear if this is a district cost or a per building cost} 6-Costs after reopening contract for this? Unknown (Just like the contract will need to be reopened for Dexter to switch from Trimesters to Semesters for next year). Per pupil funding is expected to drop over $700 next year. This program is not wanted by many in the community (just like the IB program proposed for the high school where there have only been about 32 students who have expressed any interest in enrolling and that the high school program would also be an exact duplicate of the county wide IB program that will be up and running by WISD next year). Plus where were all the quotes from those other than the teachers who will stand to make more money? The headline should have read "Teachers, employees and staff of Dexter Schools tout benefits...." Finally, Dexter high school counselors stated at the last board meeting that students who have taken AP classes are not thought less of than students in an IB program when applying to colleges such as UofM. The IB program is another option for education, but not a "better" option compared to AP programs as told to the Dexter staff from the UofM admission counselors.


Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 4:58 p.m.

" the I.B. foreign language program, there are no textbooks. Students learn from poems and song lyrics." Why not have the students sit in a circle and sign kumbaya? That would be equally effective. High school students are well past the age at which languages can be learned 'naturally'. The focus needs to be on learning, not namby-pamby feel-good nonsense that will not result in learning.


Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

There is an IB high school about to open up this August. I wonder if they are going to work in conjunction with each other. We are still unsure whether or not to go. They say once you are in the program you have troubles exiting due to the hi demands of the program. Same for jumping into IB hi. I guess you need to be a genius to do this one.


Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

I have attended three meetings at Dexter High School, offering interested parents and students a chance to listen, learn, and ask questions about the IB Program. I am thrilled that Dexter will be offering this choice for students who are eager for this style of learning, and the more global focus it provides. Dexter Schools have a well deserved reputation for excellence and the IB Program is one more way in which Dexter students are being provided the best educational opportuities and choices. I believe it is legitimate to question the cost. We are all belt tightening right now. Can we question in a positive, supportive manner without the sarcasm???


Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 1:15 a.m.

Sounds like a great program, but with the State cutting the budget how can Dexter afford this? The article did not talk about the cost of the program. While we all feel good and have a group hug, why aren't the cost being discussed? Almost no mention, either in the News or the school district propaganda, of the costs - why? How many other teachers, staff, contractors will have to be cut to afford this program? Ma Maybe it is a cost save? Right.