Three DMPS Schools Become International Baccalaureate Candidates

Hoover, Meredith, Gateway on Path to Becoming IB World Schools.

As the only school district in Iowa to provide students access to the highly-regarded International Baccalaureate (IB) program, Des Moines Public Schools is continuing to expand its IB offerings as three more schools become candidates for the program, including the state’s first comprehensive high school. They will join seven other Des Moines schools currently offering IB programs.

Hoover High School, Meredith Middle School, and the Gateway Secondary School have all been notified by the International Baccalaureate Organization that their applications to become candidate schools for the Middle Years Program (MYP) have been approved. The MYP is the IB program and curriculum framework for students in grades 6 – 10.

“One of the strengths of the IB program is that it benefits all students, and is designed to be inclusive of all learners,” said Doug Wheeler, principal of Hoover High School. “No matter what a student plans to do after graduating high school, the IB program supports our district-wide expectation that students have the knowledge, skills and abilities to succeed at their next stage in life.”

“This effort is a huge, positive step in supporting the educational needs of every student in the Hoover/Meredith community,” added Cindy Flesch, principal of Meredith Middle School. “For our middle school students, this is going to prepare them to succeed in high school and beyond.”

“Becoming an IB candidate school is a major milestone in the development of the Gateway Secondary School,” said Erin Stoen, administrator of the school. “As the school district has successfully expanded IB offerings at the elementary level, this will help more and more students continue this great educational opportunity.”

Hoover High School and Meredith Middle School – which are physically connected at their location in northwest Des Moines – are working together to offer the IB program to their students. As the International Baccalaureate Organization notes, “These are schools that share a common philosophy: a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education that Hoover High School and Meredith Middle School believes is important for our students.”

Gateway Secondary School is Des Moines’ newest middle school, located at Central Campus, and was organized with the intention of becoming an IB school. Gateway serves primarily students from two IB elementary schools, Park Avenue and Walnut Street, who wish to continue their IB education beyond 5th grade. Gateway is expanding to 9th grade in 2012-13 and 10th grade in 2013-14 to serve students who wish to continue in the IB Middle Years Program.

The IB Middle Years program provides a framework of academic challenge that encourages students to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, and become critical and reflective thinkers. Some key elements include:

  • The program consists of eight subject groups integrated through five areas of interaction that provide a framework for learning within and across the subjects. Students are required to study their own language, a second language, humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education and technology. In the final year students also engage in a personal project, which allows them to demonstrate the understandings and skills they have developed.
  • Assessment is criterion-related, so students around the world are measured against pre-specified criteria for each subject group. Teachers set assessment tasks that are assessed internally in the school. External checks are carried out on this internal assessment to ensure worldwide consistency of standards.
  • Any school wishing to offer the Middle Years program and attain IB World School status must first go through the authorization process. During this candidate phase, schools must demonstrate that they meet requirements to provide the IB curriculum framework, implement their plan to be successful, and provide documentation of their progress. The process typically takes 12-18 months to complete.

Seven schools in Des Moines are currently authorized to offer one of three different International Baccalaureate programs. Those schools are: Central Academy, Goodrell Middle School, Merrill Middle School, Hubbell Elementary School, Park Avenue Elementary School, Stowe Elementary School, and Walnut Street Elementary School