VISTA — Two magnate schools within the Vista Unified School District are on their way towards making its students more culturally aware, multi-lingual and emerge with a more 21st century-ready outlook thanks to the implementation of the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
Laurel Ferreira is an International Baccalaureate coordinator with the Cal State San Marcos extended studies course, where for the past two years teachers from the school districts of Escondido, San Marcos and Carlsbad have been enrolled and receiving training in the curriculum.
And for the last year, Ferreira has been working with Vista teachers from Casita Center for Technology, Science and Math and the Vista Academy of Performing Arts as the schools work to become IB recognized.
The program has been implemented into the schools as teacher training progresses.
“The International Baccalaureate really works on not just high academic achieving levels, but having people understand different cultures, speak different languages, be able to critically think, problem solve; take in different perspectives — all of those pieces — so that when they’re working with other people it facilitates that,” Ferreira said.
A lot of European, Asian and Australian schools are IB recognized, explained Ferreira.
Alvin Dunn in San Marcos is in the beginning phase of becoming an IB recognized school, too.
Jefferson Elementary in Carlsbad was one of the early schools to implement the IB program into their curriculum.
“It’s one of these things, that it’s growing.
“What IB tries to do is take skills and knowledge and put them into real world settings so that you’re learning is more interesting, it’s meaningful and very authentic,” she explained.
Instead of breaking up the day into specific areas of subjects as math time or language arts time, IB goes across disciplines.
Laura Smith, principal at Casita Elementary, explained that parents have a choice of pathway for their students, which, she added, include either the STEM path or the IB program.
Having spent the past 24 years in educations, Smith said there was absolutely a need for a change in how students are being taught.
“It’s inquiry based,” Smith said of the IB program. “And it’s meant to develop internationally-minded young people.”
Character-education is entwined with being an IB learner, she explained.
Smith said the IB program really engages students, and that it’s a lot more interesting, which leads to a lot less discipline problems because there’s more participation.
“If you’re bored in class you’re going to start goofing around,” she said. “So their kids are being challenged, they’re active; they’re moving around. And when kids are asking the questions, instead of the teachers asking the questions, they’re a lot more involved.”
Ferreira said it isn’t just the standards when it comes to how the program monitors students’ understanding of the materials. “STAR testing, and we’re moving into Common Core, would just be the knowledge based,” she said. “This is actually working with the whole child, and really working on their social, emotional needs; music and artistic abilities, academic abilities.”
Common Core standards are standards, which the schools have had before, Ferreira said. “Common Core is kind of the ‘what.’ These schools will still be meeting those standards, however, IB is how they’ll be teaching it,” she said.