JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – A committee of Johnson City Schools administrators are recommending the district consider phasing out Science Hill High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, “so that staffing can be better utilized to meet the academic needs of more students including those expected by expanding offerings of AP courses,” according to a report presented to school board members Monday.
The recommendation follows a task force visit to West High School last week, which is the only high school in Knox County offering the high level, college readiness program.
Our investigation previously found despite Johnson City’s $350,000 investment over 12 years in the region’s only IB program, just 23 students earned IB diplomas in the last decade, which equates to a 12.5% success rate.
According to district data, significantly more SHHS students are enrolled in AP courses this school year than IB courses.
Johnson City Schools Communications and Instruction Director Dr. Debra Bentley told News Channel 11 after visiting West High School they found that success in the program begins in lower grades at this point Johnson City Schools only offers the IB program for juniors and seniors.
“In order to increase those numbers for the IB diploma we felt like we would have to begin certainly at the middle grades and maybe even earlier in our elementary chools to do that would be a substantial cost,” Dr. Bentley said.
Administrators are recommending an AP diploma program that would expand the current 15 AP course offerings. The program aims to be similar to IB.
Science Hill High School senior, Grace Magness said she loves IB and feels it’s preparing her for her dream college in Washington D.C. She’s nervous that younger students who are interested in the program, like her brother, won’t get the same opportunities she has.
“Getting rid of IB would be a bad move, it’s really a beneficial program that truly prepares students for life after high school,” Magness said.
“We will wait to see if the BOE would like additional information and data regarding IB and AP after each member has the opportunity to analyze the report,” Johnson City Schools Communications and Instruction Director Dr. Debra Bentley said. “Our committee will wait for further instructions.”
School Board Chairman Tim Belisle said the board is still reviewing the preliminary analysis and they don’t want to adversely affect students. He added the AP diploma program could be an interesting alternative to the IB program.
The school board will discuss and potentially vote on this recommendation at their next meeting on Sep. 7.
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