CUSD may see its first elementary IB school soon - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

CUSD may see its first elementary IB school soon

November 8th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
CUSD may see its first elementary IB school soon
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By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Andersen Elementary School is looking to change its trajectory in a big way.

The school is starting down a path that it hopes will end by it being the first elementary school in Chandler certified as an International Baccalaureate program.

There are currently only five IB programs at Arizona elementary schools, with another two already in the process of getting certified. That process can take years to complete.

“We are starting now with increasing our level of rigor, increasing engagement and inquiry,” said Kristin Kinghorn, the school’s principal. “We’ll start writing our plans next year so it will be more that IB thematic base.”

The International Baccalaureate program has five offices around the world. About 5,400 schools have been certified as IB programs around the world.

The only one certified in the Chandler Unified School District is Chandler High School.

The program’s philosophy is to make the students responsible for their own education. The goal is to get them to become self-learners.

Teachers often act as guides, but are also supposed to step aside at times and let the students direct what they want to learn. It also does so with an international focus that strives to make students better and more caring people.

“We believe that by going down this road, we’ll be able to increase the rigor being taught in the classroom,” Kinghorn told the CUSD Governing Board last month.

Andersen is currently seeing a decline in attendance and was given a letter grade of C in 2019, the most recent year available.

Kinghorn said that because they are located on the border of two other districts, Kyrene and Tempe Elementary, an IB program could lead to an increase in attendance by parents who are looking for a more rigorous education for their children.

But it won’t happen overnight.

Kinghorn said it usually takes three or more years to get certified as an IB program. Teachers need to be trained in the IB methods and then officials will conduct school visits to make sure they are implemented.

Just starting down the path may turn around the school’s attendance woes. It had 537 students in the 2018-2019 school year. That dropped to 520 the following year, and then to 486 last year. This year it’s down to 475.

The district is projecting an overall decline in attendance based on the number of babies being born.

Becoming an IB program will bring additional costs. Kinghorn and interim Superintendent Frank Narducci said they believe they can cover those costs with existing funds. However, he warned there would need to be adjustments in the future to make it sustainable.

They would be used for professional development for teachers; application fee; hiring a primary years program coordinator; world language exploration; an annual candidacy fee; and costs for the verification visits.

Kinghorn said in a staff survey the move toward becoming a certified IB program was supported by nearly 91 percent.

The next steps for the school is to hold parent information meetings, the first taking place on Nov. 18. There will be additional meetings Dec. 2 and Jan. 6.

Then it plans to file the application to begin the certification process by the end of January.

Board member Jason Olive asked that if this program is certified, it leaves an obvious hole between Andersen elementary and Chandler High for the middle school years.

Narducci said that Chandler High would work on creating a bridge program to help the students during those middle school years.

“We believe that we have an obligation to our students and our families to raise that bar of excellence at Andersen,” Kinghorn said.

 

We are starting now with increasing our level of rigor, increasing engagement and inquiry, we’ll start writing our plans next year so it will be more that IB thematic base.– Kristin Kinghorn

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