Editorial: Measured Choice

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While the concept of pursuing a International Baccalaureate Middle Years program was appealing to those most supportive of an IB education, this week Sag Harbor School District administrators said the expansion could bring more headaches than IB diplomas, and we have to agree.

Sag Harbor is only school district locally to have an IB program for high school students, which offers 11th and 12th graders access to a number of rigorous classes — largely replacing Advanced Placement course offerings — as well as the opportunity to pursue a prestigious IB diploma track. While controversial when introduced in the district five years ago, for parents, students and community members that have become familiar with IB, it has proved to be an educational model that empowers students in their own education and demands they become critical thinkers — a crucial skill in the age of “fake news” and an abundance of information available with a simple keystroke.

That said, in an age of over testing of our youth, new requirements demanding this kind of assessment at the junior and lower high school grades make adopting a Middle Years program (MYP) as unappealing as the over $200,000 necessary to get in the door. Given that participation in the demanding IB diploma track was one of the reasons the district was pursuing IB for younger grades, and that participation in that program is already on a steady climb (roughly 40 percent of the incoming junior class is expected to begin pursuing an IB diploma next year), it appears drawing students to IB has already been achieved.

With a remarkable asset in high school assistant principal Michael Guinan — the IB coordinator who has had first hand experience as an IB student — and in middle school assistant principal Brittany Miaritis, who did an enormous amount of research into the MYP, along with a number of teachers already trained in IB principles, it appears the district is poised to be able to offer some of the skills and philosophies of IB without having to sacrifice its students to more testing, or district taxpayers to greater expense.

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