IB program to expand from eight diploma students to over 40


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Next school year and the year after that, over 40 current sophomores plan to pursue the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, compared to eight juniors currently pursuing the diploma. IB students such as Mitchell Adzema, IB diploma student and junior, attribute the sizable increase largely to efforts in the IB department to increase awareness of the diploma as an option for students.
Adzema said in past years, there was misinformation about the program, but there have been recent efforts to dispel it from spreading. He said in middle school, when the counselors came to talk about different types of diploma, they said IB was something only a couple students got a year so they didn’t talk about it.
“There’s a lot of misconception with it, that if you get the IB diploma it means you’re going to go to school in Europe, but it’s really just a kind of well-rounded program where all the classes kind of tie in together,” Adzema said.
Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 2.10.26 PM copyAllyson Wells Podell, IB English and Theory of Knowledge (TOK) teacher, also oversees many of the core components of the IB program such as the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) program.
Wells Podell said, “Over the past couple of years, we have seen tremendous growth in students who choose to take IB classes à la carte, where they take one or two IB classes individually. What we have found, and we’ve done some program evaluation this year, is that the students in those classes as a whole are very pleased with what they’re doing in those classes. They’re excited about the classes and they enjoy the classes, and I think that that has really helped.”
She said she’s tried to do a better job at identifying students who would be a good fit for the diploma. According to Wells Podell, oftentimes there are students who are already in several IB classes and with some guidance could easily obtain the diploma.
Adzema and Wells Podell both said better efforts to spread information about the diploma and dispel misinformation contributed to the increase in student interest in the diploma, and most likely fueled the jump in the number of IB diploma students for the next few years.
Wells Podell said, “We have tried to do a better job talking to tenth graders, and just helping them understand exactly what the program is and what type of student would be a good fit for the program, and what the requirement and what the commitment to the program look like.”
Adzema said students did not often come into contact with adequate information about the diploma in the past few years. He said he and Danni Boylan, IB diploma student and junior, talked at freshman parents’ night and an SRT meeting for sophomores in order to promote the program.
Wells Podell said there were many information sessions in an attempt to get as much information as possible out to prospective IB students as well as their parents. The information sessions included talking to students in math, science and English classes.
Adzema said, “The main benefits I’ve seen is that it’s really just keeping doors open for me. While I never went into the program looking at schools outside the country, now it’s an option because some of them are more affordable, and a lot of schools outside of the country really appreciate the diploma. Also, IU really loves IB English, and I think it’s (at) Alabama and Nebraska (that) if you just have the diploma and score high enough on your points you get a full ride.”
Adzema said he originally heard about the program through his  sophomore English class.
“I first heard about it through Mrs. Wells Podell. I had her for sophomore English. She mentioned it when talking about our course options for the next year, so I looked into IB English next year and also sat down and talked to her about the whole program and thought that it would be an awesome fit for me,” Adzema said. “I was going to take IB English, IB History, IB Physics; it turned out if I just take one class that I probably would not have taken if it weren’t for the diploma, I could be eligible for the diploma.”
Wells Podell said this is a common thread she sees among students. She also said she sees positive effects of having so many more students participating in the IB diploma program.
“Right now, I think one of the challenges of the IB diploma program is that the schedule is pretty rigid, so we can only offer certain classes during certain periods, which in the past, caused some students not to be able to pursue the program, because they might have a schedule conflict with an elective they’re really passionate about,” Wells Podell said. “The more students that we have in the program, the more times we’ll be able to offer certain classes, so there will be more flexibility with the program, which will be nice.”
Boylan also said she sees some positive effects from the growth.
Boylan said, “One of the nice things about being so small is that we get to be so close to one another. We call ourselves the ‘IB family’ because we’re so close knit…the only thing I see…is that our IB family is going to be growing.”
Ultimately, Wells Podell said that though the program is not for everyone, she expects to see continued growth in the future.

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