To the editor,
I am concerned about the School Boards proposal to begin the International Bacclaureates Primary Years Program (PYP) at one or two Alexandria elementary schools next year. This would add a foreign language teacher while simultaneously reducing language classes at middle schools. Also, the IB program has significant and expensive training requirements and ongoing fees during a time of reduced budgets.
This is clearly not a viable long-term plan. What happens when IB students arrive at middle school? They not only will need more advanced language classes, but additional, specially suited IB classes in other subjects. Only a small number of students will have had the IB prerequisites. Will IB students get put into standard classes? Will students who havent done IB in elementary school join up to the IB program in the middle? Or will two simultaneous tracks have to be maintained? If we dont want to do this in an inefficient and half-baked way, it should be undertaken in a time of stable funding.
I understand the desire of the Board to make elementary schools stronger and I support it. However, all but one of the under-enrolled Alexandria elementary schools have already tried magnet programs (Cora Kelly, Jefferson-Houston, Mount Vernon and John Adams). Schools that have shown increases in both enrollment and scores are those with solid basic education programs like Lyles-Crouch, Maury and George Mason. Lets not just switch magnet themes around. Lets build on what parents seem to want.
I have not been able to find evidence of the success of IB at the elementary school level. It seems that upper grades are the most suitable place to try this, budget permitting. Also, all students will have equal access at the high school level.