Children as young as kindergartners could soon participate in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, according to plans unveiled by the Mesa Unified School District on Monday.
The district hopes to expand the program in August to Frost Elementary School and Hendrix Junior High School, which would provide a seamless transition for IB students from kindergarten to grade 12, making Mesa the first district in the state to serve all grades, said district spokeswoman Kathy Bareiss.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme was created in 1968 and is gaining interest in Arizona. It offers high school students a demanding interdisciplinary curriculum that includes an international view of world history and philosophy. All levels of the IB program involve looking at the world in a global perspective, performing community service and having students design personal projects in their final year.
Westwood High School has been offering the IB Diploma Programme for three years.
The new program at Frost, known as the “Primary Years Programme,” would be implemented schoolwide and open to any student, principal Tim Moe said.
Frost students will focus on six main educational strands, Moe explained. For example, one is “How we share the planet.” For that, a teacher might develop the idea of water being a limited resource, and then explore that idea through social studies, science, art and other subjects. Elementary students also will study a second language, he said. The Middle Years Programme will be held at Hendrix Junior High. Unlike the Frost program, it will be a “school within a school,” so not every Hendrix student will participate.
The Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies also will offer an IB program for fifth through ninth grades.
Board member Rich Crandall expressed some concern that an IB Program, which explores global ideas, might have some “potential hazards” when it is implemented among young
“Elementary kids are really impressionable,” Crandall said. “Let’s say ... you’re talking about drilling in the Alaskan refuge. There are pros and cons; on both sides there are arguments there. But a teacher with a specific viewpoint may only present one. ... It’s very easy for a teacher to mold a student to thinking the way they think. How do we address a parent’s concern about this issue?”
Superintendent Deb Duvall said principals and curriculum department heads will have as much oversight in the IB program as their regular program, so parents could be assured that would not happen.
IB Parent-Student Information Nights Diploma Programme (grades 10-12)
6:30 p.m. Jan 9, Westwood High School, 945 W. Eighth St., Mesa
Primary and middle years programmes
6:30 p.m. Jan. 14, Dobson High School, 1501 W. Guadalupe Road, Mesa