International Baccalaureate coming to San Dieguito

One of the most exciting developments in years for the San Dieguito Union High School District is the advent of an International Baccalaureate program at La Costa Canyon High School.

Beginning in the fall of 2018, LCC will offer the two-year IB Diploma Programme, starting with 11th-graders and adding on in 2019 to include 12th-graders.

That means this year’s current ninth-graders will qualify to participate in LCC’s first IB class.

LCC administrators said students can also transfer in, as space allows, from other San Dieguito schools.

IB has spread over the last 45 years to more than 130 countries, and as of this year the organization says it has 5,964 programs offered worldwide in 4,583 schools.

Four programs are available: the Primary Years Programme for ages 3-12, the Middle Years Programme for ages 11-16, the Diploma Programme for ages 16-19, and the Career-Related Programme for ages 16-19.

The Diploma Programme, founded in 1968, is the two-year curriculum for high school students and is the oldest of the four programs.

In addition to standard academic material, IB students learn critical thinking, global awareness, community service, intercultural understanding and responsible citizenry.

Through experiential, discovery-based learning, IB students are educated with an international perspective.

Founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland, International Baccalaureate is a non-profit organization governed by an elected 17-member board of governors. According to its website [], the main sources of income are authorization and evaluation fees, workshops and conferences, publications, annual school fees, examination fees, and other fees including donations.

IB’s Diploma Programme (DP) includes three core elements:

theory of knowledge (students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know)

extended essay (independent self-directed research, explained in a 4,000-word paper)

creativity, activity, service – or CAS (students complete a project related to those three concepts)

“Through the DP core, students reflect on the nature of knowledge, complete independent research and undertake a project that often involves community service,” the website states. The aim is to broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills.

The extended essay is similar to a dissertation. It’s a research project that students, working with a mentor teacher, will complete in their junior year, explained Thea Chadwick, LCC English teacher and the school’s IB coordinator.

In addition, students take courses in six subject groups: studies in language and literature (critical analysis of literary texts), language acquisition (foreign language), individuals and societies, science, mathematics and the arts.

In the category of individuals and societies, approved IB classes include: business management, economics, geography, global politics, history, information technology in a global society, philosophy, psychology, social and cultural anthropology, and world religions.

The goal is to have students gain a deep appreciation for human experience and behavior, the history of social and cultural institutions, and the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit.

Science courses include biology, computer science, chemistry, design technology, physics, and sports, exercise and health science.

The arts include dance, music, film, theater and visual arts.

Chadwick said not every class will be offered to start with.

“We are still working on exactly what courses (within the subject areas) we will initially offer that first year and what we will ‘roll out’ as we progress,” she said. “The plan is to expand course offerings as we move forward in the program.”

IB vs. AP

The high school Diploma Programme is a major commitment from students. Some describe it as more than a program and more like a lifestyle, due to its high expectations for rigorous academics, emphasis on global citizenry and community service component.

Recognized internationally as an exceptional inquiry-based program, IB offers two levels of coursework – standard level and higher level.

Students take at least three (not more than four). subjects at higher level, and the remaining at standard level. The website explains that students are expected to demonstrate a greater body of knowledge, understanding and skills in higher level classes.

As with Advanced Placement classes, weighted grades will be offered for IB, in Years 1 and 2 and for both standard and higher level classes.

Students can take IB classes and earn the weighted grade without being in the Diploma Programme, and they do not need to fulfill the three Core components. The Core is only required of the IB Diploma candidates.

Mike Grove, SDUHSD’s Associate Superintendent of Educational Services, said to graduate with an IB Diploma, students need to take classes in a range of subject areas, not like AP where students can take just one class.

IB and AP also differ in their assessments. For IB, multiple assessments are built into the school year, unlike AP which has a single test at the end of the year.

“The actual number of [IB] assessments varies by course,” Grove said. “Some have four, some may have three or five. Most of these are embedded within the course, with one summative assessment at the end.”

Although many compare IB with AP, they are very different approaches to education. Said one administrator, “AP is built around an exam, and IB is built around a philosophy of learning.”

AP classes will continue to be offered at LCC as well.

Intensive process

LCC principal Bryan Marcus said the change in the bell schedule this year, from six periods to seven, works well for the IB program.

He said his teachers (which currently number 85, not all full-time) are enthused about the program, with many interested in IB training. He said he has hired 13 new teachers this year, some with IB experience from other schools.

Chadwick has already progressed in her training, and four other teachers, possibly six, have signed up for training in Houston next month. The hope is that 14 teachers at LCC will complete their IB training in time for the 2018 roll-out.

LCC currently has a counselor trained in IB to help students select courses.

Grove said an application was submitted to the IB organization last April and was approved in June. LCC is now classified as a candidate and is working on becoming authorized.

Becoming an authorized IB school is an intensive process and includes site visits by an IB team and regular evaluations.

To be authorized, Marcus said his school is implementing an action plan that includes building capacity among staff and proving that the school has the necessary resources (technology, media center, etc.) to sustain the program.

This is similar, he said, to what schools need to do to receive accreditation from WASC (the Western Association of Schools and Colleges).

Going through this process to receive IB authorization “has brought our staff closer together,” Marcus said.

Other nearby schools with successful IB programs include Ocean Knoll in the Encinitas Union School District and Rancho Buena Vista High School and Vista High School in Vista.

Marcus, who is in his third year as principal at LCC, said one catalyst for pursuing the IB program is to increase interest and enrollment at LCC.

Changing the bell schedule to allow kids to take more than six classes a year helped, he said. But being the only school in the district to offer a powerful program like IB will, he hopes, provide another strong incentive for students to select LCC as their school of choice.

Marcus is aware of the cultural misperception that LCC is a “jock school” with a focus on sports. He’s working to inform the community that LCC is more than that, that it’s a well-rounded school with strengths in academics and the arts, as well as athletics.

He noted that a number of seniors have been accepted to top-ranked universities for this fall, the school now has five sections of theater (up from just two a few years ago), and pep rallies focus on the entirety of the school’s strengths and not just sports.


Grove said the district will pay all fees for LCC’s International Baccalaureate program, which break down annually as follows:

* $11,000 IB membership fee

* $10,000 for ongoing teacher training (more for start-up)

*$10,000 for instructional materials

*$5,000 for teacher stipends for CAS and Extended Essay

*Cost for release time for one period for IB coordinator

“We know the actual cost for some of these items, and we’re estimating for some,” Grove said. “I made sure to estimate on the high side, especially once the program is up and running. I believe that our actual annual costs will be less.”

The total estimate comes to about $56,000 per year, and he said this would be paid completely out of the district’s general fund. Parents will not be asked to financially support the program, he confirmed.

In an email, Grove reiterated that no parent donations or foundation support will be required to sustain the IB program.

“We are committed to supporting the core costs of the program,” he said.

The only fundraising that might take place to support the IB program, he said, would be to raise money for enrichment activities related to the program, such as field trips, and to assist students with the cost of the assessments.

IB assessments, like AP exams, are pricey and not included in the program. To receive an IB Diploma, students need to pass the assessments which cost about $116 per class. Students would need to pay for this directly, just as they do for AP exams.

Not the first time

This isn’t the first time San Dieguito has considered incorporating IB into its schools.

An Intent-to-Apply was submitted in 2007 for Earl Warren Middle School and Torrey Pines High School, and both schools were accepted. IB’s Middle Years Program was planned for the schools’ seventh, eighth and ninth grades.

At the time, this idea was promoted as a way to attract middle school students to Earl Warren and away from overcrowded Carmel Valley Middle School.

But in 2008, discussions came to a halt over budget issues.

Rick Schmitt, who in 2008 was the district’s associate superintendent of educational services, said the idea was also proposed for Torrey Pines back in 1996 and again in 2003. The issue was dropped back then for lack of staff support and to focus on more pressing issues.

Although this is not the first time IB has been considered in the district, this is the first time it’s progressed this far.

As an added bonus, this may be the first time in six years that there’s been an issue that the five members of this divided school board can all enthusiastically support.

The International Baccalaureate program will be discussed at La Costa Canyon’s high school selection forum on Monday, Feb. 6.

The forum is open to the public and will provide students and parents with information on LCC and all its programs. The pep rally starts at 5:30 p.m., and the offerings fair begins at 6:15.

La Costa Canyon currently serves about 2,000 students in grades 9-12 and is located at One Maverick Way in Carlsbad.

Sr. Education Writer Marsha Sutton can be reached at