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BMHS Accepted as International Baccalaureate Candidate

Brien McMahon HS Accepted as International Baccalaureate Candidate School
Posted on 05/18/2015
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Brien McMahon High School has been officially accepted as a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program. McMahon will pursue authorization as an IB World School, which is a high school diploma program based on international standards of achievement.  According to the International Baccalaureate Organization, IB World Schools share a common philosophy — a commitment to the high quality, challenging, international education that Brien McMahon High School believes is important for students.

The IB Diploma Program is a comprehensive and rigorous two year pre-university course of study. International Baccalaureate diplomas are regarded by major college and universities as excellent preparation for college. IB programs have also been demonstrated to impact college acceptance rates, with the average acceptance rate of IB students into universities 22 percent higher than the average acceptance rate of the total population. Many competitive universities will grant semester credits for a particular course if a student receives a qualifying score in an IB class, or may grant a full year of college credit for students earning an IB diploma.

“We were thrilled to receive this news from the International Baccalaureate Organization,” said Suzanne Koroshetz, Principal, Brien McMahon High School. “We believe that an IB program will be a perfect fit for our emphasis on developing globally aware citizens who can think critically and independently. We’re very pleased that the program has accepted our application, and we are looking forward to taking the next steps toward full authorization.” 

With full authorization anticipated for the 2017-18 school year, Koroshetz expects that current eighth graders will be the first BMHS students eligible to take IB courses or apply for the IB Diploma Program. Students at Brien McMahon High School as well as the Center for Global Studies, located within McMahon, will be eligible for the International Baccalaureate program. As tenth graders, students may apply for the Diploma Program, which includes two years of IB classes and additional IB requirements, or may register for individual IB courses with the possibility of receiving college credit.

The process of exploring an IB program at Brien McMahon began in October 2013. A committee of teachers and administrators, led by teachers Julie Parham and Kristi Carriero, and administrators Scott Hurwitz and Roz McCarthy, met regularly over the following year to assess the IB program requirements and to prepare the school’s application for candidacy. Prior to submitting the application, committee members presented the IB program to the Norwalk Board of Education in October 2014.

 “The IB program at McMahon was a priority under the Strategic Plan that the Board approved last year, so we are very pleased that the school’s candidacy has been accepted,” said Mike Lyons, Chairman, Norwalk Board of Education.  “With the development of this new program, Norwalk Public Schools will have yet another alternative for students who want challenging opportunities that will help them reach their highest potential.”

“By offering an IB program here in Norwalk, Norwalk Public Schools has again expanded the high quality options available to help prepare students for success in a globally competitive society,” said James A. Connelly, Interim Superintendent of Norwalk Public Schools. “My congratulations go out to Principal Koroshetz and the entire school community for their acceptance into this prestigious and highly competitive program. I’d also like to thank the IB program committee for their hard work and dedication.”

With the school’s candidacy now accepted, full program preparation now begins in earnest. The IB core at BMHS will include a “Theory of Knowledge” course, which will be an interdisciplinary approach to learning and critical thinking; a self-selected research project; and a “Creativity, Action, Service” (CAS) requirement that includes weekly hours devoted to creative projects, physical activity and service learning. Over the 2015-16 and 2017-18 school years, curriculum revision and alignment needs will be reviewed, a recommended course of study for pre-IB classes will be established, and professional development for IB teachers will be offered. The first IB courses are expected to be offered with the 2017-18 school year.

Parents and students interested in the IB program should to refer to the McMahon web site (www.norwalkps.org/schools/bmhs) or the CGS web site (www.centerglobalstudies.org) for more information about the program and about course selection for grades 9 and 10. Families with additional questions can reach IB coordinators Julie Parham (parhamj@norwalkps.org) or Kristi Carriero (carrierok@norwalkps.org).    

With roots dating back to the 1920s, IB programs emphasize educating the whole person and encouraging students to “learn how to learn.” Since 1970, the IB high school program has graduated more than half a million students. They are also aligned with Connecticut State Standards.  Only schools authorized by the IB Organization can offer any of its four academic programs: the Primary Years Program (PYP), the Middle Years Program (MYP), the Diploma Program or the Career-related Program (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted. For further information about the IB and its programs, visit http://www.ibo.org/.