Westlake elementary schools closer to IB World School status

Westlake’s four elementary schools are closer to authorization as International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools after receiving preliminary feedback from the International Baccalaureate Organization Americans (IBA).

Based on candidacy consultant reports, observations by the verification team and the schools’ applications for authorization, all four schools – Bassett, Dover, Hilliard and Holly Lane – met 115 of the 116 practices in the six standard areas required to become IB World Schools.

Elementary IB coordinators Colleen Mudore and Deb Wadden said it is not unusual for schools to be asked to address different practices to meet all IB requirements.

In Westlake, that one issue is related to teaching and learning. Specifically, the schools need to address how they support the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) model for teaching core subjects – language arts, mathematics, science and social studies – to all students within the classroom. To address this practice, the district will examine the delivery of program services for all elementary students. Over the next few weeks the district will submit a response to IBA. A final decision from IBA will be forthcoming.
The IB journey for Westlake’s elementary schools began in the 2011-2012 school year with a feasibility study, staff training and curriculum development in the IB curriculum model. All four buildings applied for and were granted candidacy status in the 2012-2013 school year, which continued into the 2013-2014 school year. Throughout this journey, teachers and IB coordinators worked on incorporating state and Common Core standards into the IB framework of inquiry-based teaching. Once written, teachers implemented these units of inquiry and continue to reflect on them.

Upon submitting applications for authorization in spring 2014, IBA verification team visits took place in fall 2014 to confirm what was described in each application was actually implemented in the schools. Among the commendations documented in the reports:

  • The schools have built a stimulating learning environment based on understanding and respect throughout the school community.
  • Teachers speak passionately about the personal, social and academic well-being of students.
  • The schools are committed to developing a system of documenting and providing evidence of student learning over time across the curriculum.
  • The schools employ a variety of strategies and tools to ensure students’ knowledge and understanding.

The IB PYP supports learning in all academic areas and places an emphasis on the whole child. The process encourages students to choose, reflect and act not only in their academics, but in the school, community and beyond.

The district chose to pursue IB PYP certification following an appreciative inquiry process through the Continuous Improvement Plan. Through that process, the community called the district to action to grow internationally competent, competitive and engaged learners.

Earlier this year, Westlake High School was approved as an authorized IB World School, adopting the Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum through the International Baccalaureate Organization. The authorization means WHS shares a philosophy with schools worldwide – a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education with a focus on rigor and inquiry.

The DP is for juniors and seniors and will offer students the opportunity to graduate with an IB Diploma Certificate. In addition, juniors and seniors also will have the opportunity to enroll in IB courses that support their interests.

Westlake students will participate in the IBDP through a partnership with Avon Lake, Rocky River and Berea high schools.

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Volume 7, Issue 5, Posted 9:32 AM, 03.03.2015