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Buffalo Public Schools Get Boost

City Honors’ International Baccalaureate IB program is expanding, and Grover Cleveland gets a new Bill and Melinda Gates supported program.
There are some exciting things happening in Buffalo Public Schools academics right now according to Amber Dixon, Executive Director for Program Initiatives at the Buffalo Public School District.
We all know of City Honors being listed as a top 10 school in the country by Newsweek. Since the criteria for that list is to a large degree based on the percentage of graduating students completing advanced placement (AP) and international baccalaureate (IB) programs, it is critical to have these high level programs in our schools to allow our students to be competitive in their college applications and to provide these tested curriculums to the students of Buffalo.
The Buffalo Public Schools are expanding the IB program in an exciting way. They have already added a Middle Years Program (MYP) to City Honors directed to 11-16 year olds, and in September 2007 they will add a Primary Years Program (PYP) which begins with 3 year olds at the Stanley Makowski Early Childhood Center, School #99. These additional programs are all International Baccalaureate programs. Makowski’s required first year of planning, training, and resource identification is almost complete. The program now needs to be evaluated by an IB team for certification.
The PYP program’s knowledge component involves inquiry into 6 themes of global significance that I think all of us could benefit from studying. IB web-site.
Who we are
Where we are in place and time
How we express ourselves
How the world works
How we organize ourselves
Sharing the planet
In addition to the 8 regular subjects of study, the MYP program has two components that particularly caught my eye. First, the students become aware of how they best learn, and they work on developing the tools so that they can be responsible for their own learning. Second, there is an area called “homo faber” where students “explore in a multiple ways, the process and products of human creativity and the capacity to influence, transform, enjoy, and improve the quality of life”.
There are currently only 5 certified PYPs and 8 MYPs in New York State.
In addition, there is a new school opening in September at Grover Cleveland; a separate school within a school called The International Preparatory School at Grover. This will be a College Board School, developed with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The College Board is the same organization that brings us the SAT, PSAT, and AP programs. The College Board School program that has been developed “back maps” from the SAT test requirements.
The prep program at Grover Cleveland is for grades 6 and 9, with limited class size, there are no entrance criteria, and uniforms will be required. The curriculum has an international theme, which will fit well with the student body at Grover, nearly one-third of which is made up of new immigrants to the United States. The program also has a strong college preparatory focus with the students taking field trips to colleges and being expected to complete at least 2 AP courses before graduation.
Director Dixon said that the College Board approached them in 2005 to open two schools in Buffalo. In September 2006 the first College Board high school, the Math Science and Technology Preparatory School at Seneca was opened. In September 2007 this school will grow to include grades 6, 7, 9, and 10 as it moves to becoming a grade 6 to 12 school. College Board has come in as a partner, offering support in getting the program running, providing leadership workshops and monthly professional development. In addition, there is a math and science advisory committee supporting the school which includes people such as Dr. Herbert A. Hauptman, winner of the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
This article doesn’t cover the academic collaboration with UB in math and science, or the community supported extra-curricular programs which are also very exciting. It almost makes me want to go back to school again…

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