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Posted on Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 10:19 p.m.

Washtenaw County schools looking at countywide International Baccalaureate program

By David Jesse

A countywide program for advanced students will “very likely” be started by the fall of 2011, Ann Arbor school Superintendent Todd Roberts said Wednesday.

A committee of local school officials has begun the planning process to form some sort of countywide International Baccalaureate program, Roberts told his school board.

The effort is being supported by all 10 local traditional school districts and is based on a consortium model running in Oakland County.

In that model, each district would offer support for the program, and in turn would get a set amount of seats in the school.

Details about how big the school would be, how many seats each district would get, the application process and cost still have to be worked out, Roberts said.

“We’re assessing what it might look like,” he said.

Roberts’ report came during a wide-ranging review of the district’s strategic plan, the board’s goals for the last school year and Roberts’ goals for the upcoming year.

Adding International Baccalaureate, which is a rigorous program of learning used around the world with advanced students, was one of the goals of the district’s strategic plan.

Roberts said he brought the idea of sharing the program to the county’s superintendents as a way to combine services and operate efficiently.

The board spent a considerable amount of time talking about efforts to improve the social climate at the district’s high schools, a long-time area of interest to several board members.

The district has begun looking at a variety ways to measure the social climate at the three comprehensive high schools - Pioneer, Huron and Skyline.

District officials are also looking at the role of guidance counselors at the high schools. Board members told Roberts they want to see counselors spend more time counseling and working with students and less time working on scheduling.

Roberts’ goals for the 2009-10 school year were mostly a repeat of his goals from the previous year and centered on improving student achievement, reducing suspensions, continuing to work on equity in the district and the transition planning for Huron and Pioneer as Skyline fills up.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 2:36 a.m.

Students I know coming out of IB programs are extraordinarily well prepared for college. At the same time, Ann Arbor high school students need this program less than other areas because Ann Arbor students have the unique opportunity available to them to enroll as nondegree students at the University or to set up Community Resource programs with U of M professors. Where Ann Arbor schools are desperately in need of advanced programs is at the Middle School level, where the intellectual attitude is stultifying, the teaching is to the lowest common denominator, and there is no opportunity to move forward other than in math. Ann Arbor's most talented youth are suffering under the current regime.


Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 6:46 a.m.

Ps Roberts there are already on line exceptional schools and thoose serious parnets know that.It can be looked up on for the parents they need that pat to call their children exceptionally gifted


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 8:29 a.m.

This is great for the children in Washtenaw County. I think it will be a great opportunity for kids in districts (eg. Willow Run, Lincoln, Ypsilanti,...) that do not or can not offer advanced or competitive curriculum to its serious students. This will be a step up. I'd also like to see a partnership between Washtenaw Community College or UM or EMU and the local districts to offer advance placement courses in a convenient way to districts that may not have enough interested students to make it feasible to offer the AP class. A half dozen AP classes can wipe a year off of college for a gung ho student. OR a partnership like they have between West Bloomfield Schools and Oakland Community College (5 years and the student receives IB High School diploma PLUS an associates degree) Basically two years of college done and at no cost to the student. Not bad for the family trying to manage the cost of higher education.

Jennifer Shikes Haines

Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 6:13 a.m.

It's about time! This is such a strong program and is one of the few certificate programs that can be traded on an international level. We've had 5 exchange students over the years, and a couple of them have been involved in these programs back home. This would have been a stronger tact to take with Skyline, too, IMHO. Of course, magnet schools are a good thing - we're only about 20 years behind the times in that. Except for CHS, which is still amazing 30? 31? years later.