The Nauset Regional School District is moving to implement an International Baccalaureate program at Nauset Regional High School, with IB classes beginning in the fall of 2018.
Just before the final report is brought before the regional school committee, we invited Nauset IB coordinator and Spanish teacher Dr. Amy Roberts along with Nauset’s Assistant Superintendent Keith Gauley to sit for a virtual interview so our readers can learn more about this first offering of an IB program in a hometown Cape high school.
As with all Cape Cod Today virtual interviews, the questions are presented in exactly the same order as they were to our guests. The guests’ responses are published verbatim – with don’t copy-edit, edit for space or make any other alteration to the material guests submit.
Cape Cod Today: The news of Nauset’s intent to offer an International Baccalaureate program is exciting! What steps must the district complete in order to become authorized to offer an IB program and what is the likely timetable?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: Nauset has been seriously evaluating our IB potential since 2012. The momentum and interest surged last year, so we conducted a feasibility study in fall 2015, followed by parent and student information sessions. Our tentative schedule is that we are applying for candidacy status as an IB World School to offer the Diploma Programme (DP) in April 2016. We will apply for authorization in April 2017, and anticipate offering the first courses to Diploma Programme 11th graders in fall 2018.
Cape Cod Today: While Nauset is in the Candidacy and Authorization phases, will you be offering IB courses that the kids can use towards an IB diploma once the program is fully authorized?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: No. IB does not allow courses to be offered until the school is fully authorized.
Cape Cod Today: Once the IB program is up and running, will this amount to a “school within a school” where IB-enrolled students take all their classes separate from the non-IB students?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: The vision at Nauset is that IB students will be in their six IB courses with the additional TOK (Theory of Knowledge) course. These classes would include 11th and 12th grade DP students. Students could also have an opportunity for 2 semester electives. In addition, pastoral groups such as academic advisory groups and extracurricular activities will remain mixed. The Creativity, Action and Service requirement will also have the potential to integrate all students. Our goal is for IB to be seamlessly integrated, which is the reason IB classrooms will remain distributed in their respective discipline buildings as opposed to grouped together.
Cape Cod Today: Do your teachers need additional training or credentialing to teach IB courses?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: Yes. All teachers who teach an IB course must have Category 1 training prior to authorization of the school. Subsequent trainings for Category 2 and Category 3 are expected over several years. Teachers and administrators are beginning to attend IB training this year and we will continue to train staff during the Candidacy Phase, Authorization Phase, and in subsequent years once authorized.
Cape Cod Today: What will be the cost to launch and maintain the IB program?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: The projected budget has been prepared and included in the feasibility study.
Cape Cod Today: What is your target enrollment for the Nauset IB program?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: A December poll of current Nauset students revealed about 22% of students are interested and 45% are unsure. Based on that data, our expected enrollment in the first year is 40 – 100 students.
Cape Cod Today: How will students be selected for the IB program? Will a certain number of seats be apportioned for “indigenous” Nauset students versus school choice attendees?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: Nauset will not have selection criteria for the IB Diploma Programme. We want all students to challenge themselves. Students will be able to self-select into the Diploma Programme during the spring of their sophomore year as they register for junior year coursework. Students who are interested in the IB Diploma Programme should anticipate that certain courses in IB will require prior preparation such as Group 2: Language B where we would encourage students to choose a world language that they would achieve level 4 or 5 by their senior year or Group 5: Mathematics.
Cape Cod Today: How will the Nauset IB program differ from the program now offered at Sturgis Charter Public School?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: Nauset is a school that provides many educational paths for our students. We pride ourselves in cultivating a passion and joy in learning, based on student interest. We aim to provide a high quality education for all of our students in the Nauset region, and IB is a fantastic educational opportunity in which students and parents have expressed interest. Students in the 9th and 10th grade at Nauset will not be enrolled in IB courses and will be able to choose from the same selection of courses as all other 9th and 10th grade students.
Cape Cod Today: We hear from Sturgis’ students that not everyone is capable of working at the high level required by the IB program. If a student gets into the Nauset IB program and finds herself under water, can they return to a regular class without losing credits?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: Yes. Nauset takes pride in the amount of choice students have in their education. While the intent of the IBO is for students to achieve the full diploma, students who find themselves in such a situation may request a schedule change per Nauset High School policy and deadlines.
Cape Cod Today: Sturgis’ program is very much a meritocracy. Students who cannot function in the high achieving environment often end up leaving Sturgis. Will Nauset’s program be equally structured or will you offer additional support for IB students who are struggling?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: I will not comment on any other educational institution or program, but students who enroll in the IB program at Nauset Regional High School will be expected to meet several criteria at the end of the program, including external assessments. The IB Diploma is an optional program that delivers rewards based upon hard work and application. Students are not obliged to enroll or participate in the program, but if they so choose; they are expected to fulfill their obligations. No student will be excluded by the IB Organization on the grounds of race, nationality or national origin, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political beliefs, disability or any other personal characteristic as prohibited by law. In addition, any student who has either an IEP or a 504 plan is automatically eligible to apply for special arrangements with the IBO to assist the candidate during their preparation of work for assessment and in their written examinations.
Cape Cod Today: Will there be any out-of-pocket costs for an IB student other than what a traditional Nauset student would pay?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: Students will pay approximately $950 for the external assessment fees in the full Diploma Programme including 6 subject courses, Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay. IB external assessment utilizes a variety of methods including essays, structured problems, short-response questions, data-response questions, text-response questions, case-study questions, and, rarely, multiple-choice. As with other assessments that require a fee, students from economically-disadvantaged families may apply to have the IB assessment fees waived or reduced based upon their need.
Cape Cod Today: Do you expect a big increase in school choice applications when this program launches? Does Nauset have a way to accommodate additional school choice students?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: While we could anticipate an increase in school choice applications, Nauset Regional School Committee decides the number of school choice applicants allowed each year.
Cape Cod Today: The Montgomery County Schools in Maryland recently published a list of higher education benefits for students with an IB diploma. These include automatic college credits for work done in the IB program and substantial financial assistance to holders of IB diplomas. These benefits will give great advantages to Nauset’s IB recipients as they begin their higher education. Do these benefits offset the public costs of maintaining a high-end program such as IB?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: The value of the IB program goes far beyond the potential of earned college credits and financial assistance. The IB Diploma Programme prepares students for successful post-secondary completion. As we know, it is not just about getting students admitted to college, but also about making sure they have the skills and preparation to succeed and graduate. In Nauset, the costs associated with the IB Diploma Programme will primarily be funded by a revolving account in which money is paid to the school district by outside agencies. One such account is our International Student Fund. This minimizes the expense of IB that would covered by our operating budgets. Additional benefits of IB Diploma Programme preparation may be obtained from the following sources:
Cape Cod Today: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Nauset’s proposed International Baccalaureate program?
Dr. Roberts/Mr. Gauley: We are very pleased with the enthusiastic response from faculty, students and community members. The consideration phase process is moving forward smoothly and we look forward to the next phase of candidacy. Thank you to everyone involved for your encouragement!
Raising the bar
Nauset’s proposed IB program significantly raises the bar on school competition among the Cape’s high schools. Offering this type of program should ensure Nauset Regional High School’s leading position in school choice for many years into the future.
While one shouldn’t expect Nauset’s IB program to have much effect on Sturgis Charter’s enrollment (and deep waiting list), the Nauset program is likely to attract many school choice students who want the IB experience but also value the athletics and diversity of a 1,000 student home-town high school.
The training received by those wishing to teach IB courses along with the general culture of excellence that surrounds most IB programs will likely benefit all students at Nauset.
In addition to providing an impressive educational opportunity for their own students, Nauset has just raised the bar on every other Cape high school.
With the proposed IB program, Nauset cinched a nearly four-year head start on a landmark program that would be the envy of any competitive high school