Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, the Spring Lake district could have one of 31 high schools in the state offering International Baccalaureate courses, a two-year program geared at providing students with intercultural understanding.
Principal Mike Gilchrist said Spring Lake High School has a strong Advanced Placement program, but offering an additional high-level program would be a game changer.
The International Baccalaureate program requires students to take literature, a second language, individuals and societies, experimental sciences, mathematics, and arts. Students will take three subjects as high levels for 240 hours and three subjects as standard levels for 150 hours.
The program is project- and team-based, and will have Skype requirements for Spring Lake students to work with students in other countries, Gilchrist said.
“We think that’s good for our kids,” he said.
The program grants diplomas to students achieving at least 24 possible points, which they receive on merit per course, ranging from 1 being the lowest and 7 as the highest. Students receiving a diploma from the program would also be required to take a “theory of knowledge” course and participate in creativity, action and service activities.
Currently, 1,215 schools in 30 countries offer the diploma program.
International Baccalaureate won’t replace Advanced Placement courses at Spring Lake High School, but Gilchrist said more students will be able to participate in the international program because of its differences to AP courses.
As administrators explored the program, Gilchrist said the post-secondary officials he spoke with said students who participate in the program are more likely to receive acceptance letters from colleges and universities. He didn't say why.
The University of Michigan reported the acceptance rate of International Baccalaureate students is 71 percent, compared to the total population acceptance rate of 51 percent.
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