Feedback on the Oberlin Schools’ International Baccalaureate program is being sought.
Superintendent David Hall said a community meeting may be held later this month on the program in response to criticism from parent Sandra Redd. A date hadn’t been set.
Launched in 1968, the program offers 5,000 introductory college-level courses to some 1.3 million students worldwide, according to the International Baccalaureate Foundation. The program officially began in Oberlin in the 2010-11 school year.
It is designed to develop the emotional, intellectual, personal, and social skills of students and better prepare them for college.
However, Redd noted that just 22 students have graduated from the program since 2011.
The annual program cost is $36,590, Ann Glass, curriculum director, said Tuesday. Glass said a portion of a $728,000 federal taxpayer Race to the Top grant awarded from the U.S. Department of Education paid for the program between 2011 and 2014.
While the annual cost is a fraction of this year’s $14.3 million general fund budget, Redd told board of education members at their April 26 meeting that the money could be better spent on more books for special education students.
“It’s extremely expensive when you look at the fact that we’ve only graduated 22 people,” she said. “As a taxpayer, I just don’t think it’s fair.”
Board president Ken Stanley told Redd the graduation rate is “not where we’d like it to be” but the program better prepares students for college and they can earn college credit from it.
Stanley said the high number of students taking and passing IB tests helped boost Oberlin High School in U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings.
The school ascended from 837th last year to 697th this year in the magazine’s 2016 Best High Schools national rankings and from 32nd to 27th in Ohio. The school was one of 6,218 schools recognized out of 28,000 evaluated nationally, according to the magazine. “The IB program is so much more than just the diploma program,” Stanley said.
Redd countered that some colleges don’t give credit for IB. She said the 1,000-student district can’t afford IB, especially when board members may ask taxpayers in November to pay for a $16.5 million PK-5 school that would replace Eastwood and Prospect elementary schools.
“We’re spending a phenomenal amount of money on IB,” she said. “It could be better used.”
However Glass said while just 22 of the 701 students who’ve taken the IB tests received full diplomas, the the low graduation rate is deceptive. Glass said the IB classes are more rigorous than standard curriculum classes and students benefit from them regardless of whether they earn diplomas.
She said some of the students didn’t take the full six-course level needed for full diplomas because they took classes at Lorain County Community College or Oberlin College. “Our first requirement is to meet the minimum graduation requirements of the state, IB goes well beyond (that),” Glass said.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 o @GoodenowNews on Twitter.