In the 2014-2015 academic year, members of the Addison Central community - teachers, administrators, board members, parents, students, and others - engaged in the critical and creative process of developing Addison Central Supervisory Union’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan (acsdvt.org). That plan tasked us with building “a culture of innovation and continuous improvement that personalizes learning experiences, provides equitable opportunities and results in high learning outcomes and achievement for all students.” One key objective of this goal was to identify or develop a PK-12 educational framework to increase excellence and equity across ACSU’s nine schools. In 2015, ACSU kicked off a 16-month inquiry into the International Baccalaureate (IB) teaching and learning framework.
Teachers and administrators attending IB conferences and workshops, visited IB schools, and engaged in professional learning together and shared their findings with the community and board members. In October of 2016, with the full support of all school and district administrators, the newly formed Addison Central School District (ACSD) unified board voted unanimously to pursue IB authorization at each of ACSD’s nine schools.
IB Mission Statement
The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
To this end, the organization works with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right. (ibo.org, mission)
IB is exciting because it presents educators with a curriculum framework that focuses on big-picture concepts and promotes an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning. It is a framework that is consistent with what educational research deems best practice in the 21st century. The concept-based inquiry-driven approach begins in the Primary Years Program (PYP) and continues in the Middle Years Program (MYP) and the Diploma Program (DP). ACSD is in the process of developing all three programs which, over time, will provide consistency for all of our students from pre-kindergarten through high school.
Becoming IB authorized World Schools requires extensive collaboration across all of ACSD’s schools. IB teachers for the PYP (grades PK-6) and MYP ( grades 7-10) are required to work in collaborative teams to create units of inquiry, develop and use common assessment tools, and reflect on and revise units annually according to IB standards and practices. All DP (grades 11-12) teachers must attend IB subject-specific training for the courses they will teach. The collaborative process clarifies and makes explicit what we expect all ACSD students to know and be able to do from PK-12th grade.
IB does not offer a canned curriculum. Instead, it provides a framework to guide ACSD teachers in writing a curriculum for ACSD students. The IB approach aligns well with Vermont’s emphasis on personalized, proficiency-based teaching and learning. IB requires that there is a system in place for teachers and administrators to engage in ongoing professional development as well as a plan for supporting teachers who are new to IB. The commitment to ongoing professional learning ensures that teachers understand and use research-based best practices in teaching and learning.
IB World Schools are involved in a cyclical process of self-study/reflection, evaluation, and revision. IBO routinely monitors, provides feedback, supports, and evaluates our written, taught, and assessed curriculum. This authorization and re-authorization process is much like the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation process our high school has participated in for years.