Red Clay News
Dickinson High School Approved to Offer IB Diploma
John Dickinson High School joined an elite group of U.S. high schools yesterday when the school received word it has been approved to offer the internationally recognized International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program.
Only 2.1 percent of the nation’s 36,000 public and private high schools offer the rigorous course of study, which is universally accepted as a challenging accomplishment for students to achieve. An IB diploma often leads to early acceptance at colleges around the country. In Florida, for example, an IB diploma guarantees admittance to any college in the state system, with some allowing IB graduates to skip their freshman year and enter college as a sophomore.
Being named an IB world school takes an exacting, two and ½ year process that Dickinson began in the fall of 2009. It required extensive work on the part of the school leadership and staff, with a lengthy application process, implementation plan and extensive training. Fifteen Dickinson teachers have been training for two years to teach the IB model, which emphasizes rigorous academics and students making a positive contribution to their school and community.
Approval also included a visit and interviews with a “validation team” representing the IB Board of Governors, a 17-member elected body based in Switzerland that has overseen and protected implementation of the IB model for 35 years.
“We are gratified that hard work put in by the staff at Dickinson and that the supports that Red Clay has provided have come to this successful culmination,” said Dickinson Principal Byron Murphy.
“We know that when students add an IB diploma to their state of Delaware diploma, that those students will have significantly expanded opportunities for admission to top-tier universities,” he added. “They will be very well prepared for whatever university they attend.”
Dickinson is only the second public school in Delaware to offer the program. “It is an honor for Dickinson, Red Clay and Delaware for the school to win approval to offer this challenging and prestigious program,” said Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery. “IB’s rigorous curriculum and assessments offer Dickinson students the challenging opportunities they seek.”
The school’s IB program was a main part of a redesign of the instructional offerings at Dickinson announced in January 2010. In addition to the IB program, the school is converting into a STEM Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and is upgrading and expanding its Career and Technical (CTE) programs.
The new programs have made positive impacts already, said one teacher. "The redesign brought in great programs and great technology for the school,” said Mike Reitemeyer, a Math Teacher in the IB Program and the 9th Grade Academy. “But the real difference is in the atmosphere of the school. Our students expect success. When I first arrived at Dickinson five years ago, it seemed like there was an air of failure. It isn't like that anymore. The teachers here expect the kids to succeed. The kids expect to be successful. That in turn has made the school successful."
Even without approval from the IB organization, students have already placed themselves in the position to receive the first IB diplomas from Dickinson. Now in 10th grade, a group of 23 students entered Dickinson in the fall of 2010 with the intent of being the first students to earn an IB diploma at the school. A parent of one of those students was “thrilled” at the news.
“I was super excited when I heard from my daughter (who will be in the first IB graduating class) that Dickinson had been approved as an official IB school,” said Joan Chinnery. “I was especially pleased that Dickinson’s hard work improving their standards was validated by the IB organization as they agree that the school’s education is of a high enough caliber to be approved. I would offer as further evidence in this area that my son – a Dickinson senior – was recently accepted to the US Naval Academy. In addition, when my youngest son, an 8th grader, heard the news, he decided Dickinson’s IB program was the best choice for him this fall.”
The district is planning to increase the number of spots available to students in the IB program. An informational Open House will be scheduled at the school shortly and students can apply to the school until June 30, 2012 for the 2012-2013 school year. Seating will be limited.
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