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International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program Comes to Washington D.C. Schools

By Stacy Andell for http://www.schoolsk-12.com

Shephard Elementary School Immersion Program

Washington D.C. Schools are eager to begin a new language immersion program at the primary school level. Beginning in August of 2006, pre – Kindergarten students of various foreign language backgrounds will join the new language immersion program. In particular, French and Spanish speaking children are needed to start this two way immersion experience. Students participating in the program will receive either French – English or Spanish – English content classes taught by teachers fluent in the target language. Children born in late 2001 and early 2002 and speak a foreign language are encouraged to enroll.

The Shepard Elementary School program is part of the Washington D.C. Public School System’s ongoing efforts to integrate the International Baccalaureate Program into the elementary school level. Beginning in August 2006, all grade levels at Shepard Elementary school will begin participating in this internationally recognized program.

The Primary Years Program

The Primary Years Program is designed to teach the whole child through a range of interdisciplinary activities. Designed for students aged three through twelve, it involves an overall development of the mind, body, and heart and focuses on the needs of the child in all forms of development, including social, physical, emotional, cultural, and academic. The curriculum is published in English, French, and Spanish. The Primary Years Program is designed to prepare students for the International Baccalaureate Program, a college preparatory program offered at high schools throughout the world, including many locations in the United States. The introduction of the Primary Years Program in Washington, D.C. is in response to the large international community that lives and works in the area.

How Shepard Became an IB World School

In order to teach the Primary Years Program, Shepard had to go through several stages to ensure that the curriculum would reflect an international standard. Washington D.C. schools first entered the Consideration Phase, as they conducted research into the ability for schools like Shepard to meet the rigorous requirements for admission to the program. The district conducted an in –depth analysis of the philosophy and curriculum as well as identifying the resources that would be needed to implement the Primary Years Program.

During the Candidate Phase, the school goes through all the necessary procedures for implementing the new program. This involves training teachers to use the new curriculum as well as gathering the resources necessary to deliver the program. Shepard Elementary School then must implement the program for a full school year in order to complete this phase. The Washington D.C. school district will assist Shepard in beginning the program in August of 2006. This trial phase will determine how well Washington D.C. schools are able to handle the rigorous demands of this international school system.

At the end of the trial phase, scheduled for August of 2007 for Shepard Elementary School, a delegation from the International Baccalaureate Organization visits the school. During this visit, the delegation members decide if the school has shown success in implementing the curriculum. If the school does well, the school becomes authorized to offer the program and attains the internationally recognized status of International Baccalaureate World School. The IBO will continue to visit and monitor the school’s progress every five years.

Teacher Training

The teachers at Shepard Elementary received special training in order to meet the demands of the internationally recognized curriculum. Before becoming authorized to teach the program, the principal, administrative staff, and the teachers all undergo training of some sort. Some teachers attend IBO workshops. Many of the teachers in the Washington D.C. school district attended school based training organized by the IBO. Teachers are also encouraged to keep up – to – date using IBO’s online curriculum center in addition to attending conferences and workshops.

Shepard Elementary has taken the first steps to bring Washington D.C. public education to an international level by entering these first phases of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program.


About the Author: Stacy Andell is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Stacy has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more on Washington DC schools visit http://www.schoolsk-12.com/Washington-DC/Washington-dc/index.html




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