For her presentation to the Temple school board Monday, Sharon Goldman brought visual aids — the sealed plastic that a secure International Baccalaureate test comes in, a peculiar paper clip substitute, and a red and white peppermint candy.
Goldman, the IB coordinator at Temple High School, helped explain Temple Independent School District’s advanced academic programs along with secondary education director Renota Rogers and Advanced Placement coordinator Robyn Buro. The district’s board of trustees voted to approve their report.
Rogers explained how the various advanced programs in the district work together.
“It’s very important to us that our teachers have the knowledge that they need in order to successfully deliver their instruction in our advanced academic classrooms,” Rogers said.
To that end, middle school advanced programs are designed to help students prepare for AP and IB classes in the high school.
“Our sixth grade and our seventh- and eighth-grade teachers join with our high school teachers in the same content area,” Rogers said. “They get together after school about three times a year, to talk about what they’re teaching, how their students are doing … what my students need to know to go to you, and what my students have learned having already been in your classroom.”
Advanced middle school students can take some classes for high school credit, in much the same way that IB and AP students can earn college credit.
The IB program is highly structured, with participating students taking most of their classes together, putting together rigorous projects and learning how to write a research paper at a college level. The program offers students up to 24 credit hours of college credit, while the more traditional AP program offers up to 45 hours.
Goldman said she has 30 juniors coming into the IB program in the fall.
“We’re just graduating a strong class,” Goldman said. “We hope to continue the trend of history and music scores surpassing the world average.”
AP allows students to either take AP classes to prepare for the AP tests, or simply prepare on their own and then take the test.
Goldman used her three IB artifacts to give the board a sense of the student’s IB experience and memories of the program.
“The little string tag (treasury tag) is what the British use instead of paper clips, and the very first time they test it’s just (confusing) … and then they always have a peppermint or two or three,” Goldman said.
Goldman estimated she may have given out 1,000 peppermints this past testing season.
“They start with one and it kind of calms their nerves, and then as they’re testing I continue to pass them out if they want one, and it gives them a little burst of energy,” she said.
The AP program, run by the College Board, is better known in American schools than IB classes.
“For Advanced Placement, it’s very similar to IB, only we’re more focused on testing,” Buro said. “It’s encouraged by College Board, highly encouraged, to make sure every single student is able to participate and test no matter their disability or ability levels.”
Course syllabi are approved by the College Board, but students do not have to take AP classes to take AP exams for college credit.
“For our testing season this year, we had 201 students that were enrolled in AP classes that took tests,” Buro said. “We had 182 testers in May; those included 45 students that chose to challenge the test that were not enrolled in an AP class. Most of those were our IB students that chose to take the AP test.”