Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

City Magnet Schools Close in on Goal

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

City Magnet Schools Close in on Goal

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools appear to be close to achieving the goal of being affiliated with the International Baccalaureate program.

"We expect to be considered an authorized IB program in the spring," said Jeanne Burkhalter, principal of Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools Elementary, told the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education on Thursday.

The IB program began in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968 and is a standardized, advanced education program with an international curriculum accepted worldwide in 138 countries.

Some IB courses can count for college credit, and statistics have shown that IB students are up to 30 percent more likely to be accepted into college. Many IB students also receive full scholarships.

The Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools opened in August 2009. In April 2011, Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools Elementary and Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools Middle became official candidates for the IB program.

TMS Elementary was assessed by an IB consultant in April to see if the school met the requirements.

After interviewing children, parents and teachers for two days about what was being learned at the school, Burk-halter said the consultant gave the school a positive written review.

Though the IB consultant thought highly of TMS Elementary, Burkhalter said there were a few things at the school that needed to be put in place before it could be authorized as an IB school.

Burkhalter said the school needs to increase the amount of time students are being taught art and music. To do that, she needs an additional part-time art teacher and part-time music teacher.

TMS Middle Principal Kristi Thomas said the middle school hasn't had an assessment from an IB consultant yet. She said that is being planned for fall. Thomas said she already knows what the school is going to need to become IB authorized.

"We know what they're looking for from the IB training conference we attended in Atlanta," she said. "We have all the subjects we need -- music, art, a foreign language and P.E. What we need is more hours taught in art, Spanish and chorus. We also need more time on our computers. We have laptops, but we don't have enough."

Thomas said the "IB Middle Years program" requires IB middle schools to provide 50 hours of instruction per year, per student, per subject. …

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