The Shawnee Mission School District decided to implement the International Baccalaureate Certificate program at East for the 2019 graduating class and beyond. The Certificate program allows students to enroll in two or more IB classes, while the rest of their classes are AP or normal level classes.
The Certificate program allows for a broader range of students to take advantage of an IB level class in the subjects they are interested in, without committing to the full program. Certificate students will only be responsible for their IB course classwork, and are not required to write the 10,000 word extended essay over any topic, or participate in CAS (Creative, Active and Service) hours – graduation requirements for the full Diploma.
“Now more and more kids can experience the IB work and IB course load and IB curriculum that I think is so fantastic, without having to do the full IB diploma,” East IB Coordinator, Monique Goodeyon said.
This is not the first time that East has had the Certificate program in their curriculum, but back in 1997, due to low enrollment, East reverted back to only offering the full Diploma program. With Certificate programs already put in place at SM North and SM Northwest, the district made the final decision to open up IB level courses to more East students.
“The International Baccalaureate Program has amazing benefits,” principal John McKinney said. “But at the end of the day, just like any other program or class, you have to have enrollment to justify it being here. So that was one of the reasons for going down the certificate path. We also want students who are not interested in getting the full program to have the opportunity of obtaining the wonderful things that the IB curriculum provides.”
Janine Deines, the IB Coordinator at Northwest, has enjoyed having the Certificate and Diploma programs at Northwest, but also believes the Diploma program has more benefits. While she likes that more of her students have the chance to experience the in-depth learning of the IB classroom, she knows that Certificate kids don’t always reap the rewards that the Diploma students do.
In “The IB Diploma Graduate Destinations Survey 2011,” it was found that IB Diploma students have an average 20.7 percent better chance of being accepted to 20 prestigious colleges across the nation than the total population. Deines has personally seen the special treatment her IB Diploma students are given when going through the admissions process.
“Having the Diploma can truly help a student get into a college,” Deines said. “Colleges are very cognizant of how rigorous the Diploma program is. The studies show that kids who have the Diploma are given a foot in the door more so than certificate kids or kids that are not IB.”
Because of Northwest’s Certificate Program, the school is able to provide more IB level courses than East has been able to with just the Diploma program. This year Northwest has an IB level for five languages and two different history courses; East only has an IB level for three languages and only one choice for history. However, with East’s addition of the Certificate program, there is already talk of adding more IB courses in years to come. Goodeyon is looking into adding IB Film, IB Economics and possibly some additional IB science classes.
Multiple students are taking advantage of the Certificate program, seeing it as a way to add IB level courses to their transcripts, while giving them more room in their schedule for more than one elective.
“I originally was planning on doing the IB diploma program, but with my very busy schedule, I was nervous about the rigor the full program,” sophomore Hannah Goettsch said. “When I heard of the Certificate option, I thought that would be a happy medium.”
Current IB Diploma Candidates have voiced their opinions on the Certificate program to Goodeyon as well as the rest of the IB teachers. Some are concerned that the tight knit feeling of the Diploma candidates will be affected by the Certificate kids, but most are open to the idea of the new program.
“I think that the [Certificate program] might disrupt the closeness of the Diploma kids, but at the same time, it makes the education more accessible to everyone,” senior and IB Diploma candidate Natalie Roth said. “I think the fact that all your classes are IB keeps a lot of people away from [the Diploma Program], but I think the certificate will open it up to a lot more people.”
Goodeyon is excited for the opportunity to get more kids involved in the program, but she is also nervous that East will lose its tradition of having a high number of Diploma candidates every year due to potential Diploma candidates going the route of Certificate. While this may be the case in future years, the 2019 class will continue the trend of the large group of Diploma candidates, with 45 sophomores currently signed up.
“I was always planning to do the Diploma,” sophomore Hazel Eastlack said. “I think it’s more worth it to do the full thing or all AP rather than split it up and do both. I want to get the whole IB experience because at the meeting it just seemed like a ton of fun.”