info: Heather Scott
International Baccalureate Program
Leander High School
Students who complete the International Baccalaureate program can earn
up to 24 hours of college credit. Read
What is IB? (A general PowerPoint
Presentation about IB)
IB at Leander (A PowerPoint presentation about the IB program here
For bus transportation routes, click here:
(If a student doesn't find a stop close to his/her home and he/she lives within a regular bus route for LHS, they should check the district website.)
IB in the news...
Hill Country News, January 2007. Print
Hill Country News, October
Read stories below...
LISD awards most IB diplomas ever - Tough course load, community
service makes it hard to attain
By Kate Goeke, Hill Country News
Earning an International Baccalaureate Diploma is no small feat.
It requires that high school students seeking it study, learn
and retain a vast amount of college-level information. It should
be no surprise, then, that IB diplomas are awarded to a select,
small percentage of a high school's students.
The IB program has been offered by Leander ISD since 1999. The
number of diplomas awarded through this program, the district's
most rigorous high school course of study, has averaged only
two per year. That is, until now.
Seven IB Diplomas were awarded to 2006 Leander High School graduates
Brian Benjamin, Ashley Camargo, Zak Fisher, David Jameson, Cozette
Kosary, Kathryn Loeffler and Julia Trihn. The international awards
were presented to them at a special ceremonial dinner on Thursday,
The International Baccalaureate program began in the 1960s to
ensure the children of ambassadors and diplomats, who moved often,
could receive a consistent education recognized by major universities
throughout the world. As of December 2006, there were 1,250 IB
schools worldwide and 520 in the United States. The prestigious
program is only offered in 39 of Texas' nearly 2,000 public and
private high schools.
To earn an IB Diploma, candidates must successfully pass college-level
courses in six core areas in their junior and senior years of
high school, complete a 4,000-word extended essay, perform 150
hours of community service and take a series of internationally-graded
exams, from which they must earn a minimum of 24 points to complete
the program. Students who do not earn the 24 points or who choose
to take only certain exams can earn IB Certificates in specific
fields of study.
Nine candidates received certificates at the ceremony: Jonathan
Alford, Chelsea Couch, Tyler Kinslow, Ingrid Kong, Devin Matthews,
Patrick Mears, C.W. Reynolds, Thomas Saddington and Tony Whitehead.
Kong and Saddington each received 23 points - just one point
shy of the diploma - and are retesting this spring. Judy Guerra,
LISD IB coordinator, said their prospects for receiving the full
diploma are excellent. That would bring the total diplomas awarded
to 2006 graduates to a record nine.
The IB classes are similar to the College Board's Advanced Placement
classes and tests, but there are several distinct differences.
Students may take AP tests without having taken AP courses (although
counselors recommend the courses to prepare for the tests). IB
students, however, are required to take the corresponding classes
in order to sit for the exams. Also, the IB is a “whole
curricular” program, requiring students participate in
the full program.
Texas recently joined a number of other states in recognizing
the accomplishments of IB diploma graduates. The state awarded
them an automatic 24 hours of college credit, and allows them
to enter college with sophomore standing, potentially shaving
thousands of dollars off the cost of a college education. Many
private universities also recognize the diploma with various
forms of compensation.
This spring, 28 Leander seniors plan to test for the IB Diploma
- an increase of more than 100 percent over last year, when 13
sat for the full diploma. Guerra credits this increase to wider
awareness of the program throughout LISD's secondary schools.
“Our program has steadily grown,” Guerra said. “We
have worked hard over the last couple of years to increase district-wide
awareness of the IB program and to promote it to incoming students.”
Guerra expects the program will grow tremendously over the next
“This year, we have had 60 current sophomores and more
than 100 freshmen give us letters of intent to participate in
the program,” she said.
Still, LISD's IB program has plenty of room to grow compared
to other districts that have offered the program longer. There
are only two other IB World high schools in Central Texas - Round
Rock ISD's Westwood and Austin ISD's Anderson high schools. By
comparison, from 1999 to 2005, Westwood averaged 72 IB seniors
per year, with an average of 29 per year receiving the diploma.
Students and parents considering the program often fear an overwhelming
amount of homework with no time to participate in other activities.
The former IB students at the awards dinner admitted the program
is challenging and does require a high level of self-motivation
“If your parents have to be pushing you in this program,
it might not be for you,” Brian Benjamin, now a Rice University
“There are always going to be hard times,” Kathryn
Loeffler said, “but when you're done you have something
to be really proud of.”
The graduates insisted, however, they still had time to participate
in extracurricular activities, and some even maintained part-time
jobs after school.
“Don't think if you're in IB that you won't have time
to do what you want to do,” Tyler Kinslow said. His afterschool
activities included working as a lifeguard at Milburn Pool.
The graduates agreed, though, that the most important benefit
they received was being better prepared for the rigors of college.
“I really learned how to manage my time in high school,” said
Tony Whitehead, who is now an honors music education major at
the University of North Texas. “I was pleasantly surprised
how easy it is now in college. It was hard in high school, but
it has made the transition to college super-easy.”
The graduates also agreed that, if they had it to do over again,
they would still pursue the IB - although several admitted they
would procrastinate less on assignments. They also encouraged
up-and-coming and potential IB students to stick with the program.
“It's all about your thirst for knowledge,” Kinslow
“It forces you out of your box and shifts your paradigm,” Patrick
“Everyone at Leander High School has the ability to do
IB,” Benjamin said. “It's all about time, commitment
and making choices.”
For more information on the International Baccalaureate Diploma
program, visit the LISD website at www.leanderisd.org, or contact
Glenn Chapin, LISD Advanced Programs Coordinator, at 434-5046.
LISD's IB program offers ‘world'
By Charles Wood, Four Points News
You might not expect high school students to demand the hardest - and best -
coursework they can get, but for students in Leander ISD's IB program, it's second
IB (International Baccalaureate) is for students in grades 11 and 12 who love
a challenge. Students interested in the program take pre-IB courses in the 9th
and 10th grades. IB students take courses in six areas: English, a foreign language,
social studies, science, math, and one elective.
“ It started as a program for children of diplomats, so they could get
a consistent education as they moved from country to country,” said Alicia
Russell, coordinator of Secondary Advanced Placement programs for Leander ISD. “Since
that time, it has become arguably the most rigorous and best college preparation
course of study in the world.”
The non-profit International Baccalaureate Organization was founded in 1968.
The organization is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It works with 1,598
schools in 121 countries, and approximately 200,000 students. Headquarters for
this area is New York.
The Texas IB program received a major boost during the last legislative session
with the passage of Senate Bill 111. That legislation grants up to 24 hours of
college credit to any student that has received an IB diploma.
“ The program has grown every year,” said Russell. “This year,
we have 15 diploma candidates. Next year, we should have 25 to 30. At the
freshman and sophomore levels, there are 130 LISD students pursuing the IB diploma
How does a student know whether he or she belongs in the
IB program? “The
IB program is designed to create a well-rounded scholar,” said Russell. “It
covers a wide range of subjects, so the student needs to have at least a
minimal level of interest across the board, not just be focused on one thing.”
LISD recommends that students begin preparing for IB (and AP) as early as middle
school, by taking courses such as Algebra I and a foreign language.
IB is much like AP (Advanced Placement) and other college prep courses (students
in both plans are often taught in the same classrooms, with a blended curriculum),
but IB is especially rigorous.
“ Students who graduate with the IB program are so much more prepared for
college than their peers,” said Russell. “The more rigorous the program,
the better prepared for college a student is - and you can't get much more rigorous
than this. My favorite quote about the program is, ‘we do this to help
kids get through college, not out of college.' IB helps them be more successful
once they get to college.”
Students with IB diplomas have gone on to great success at
prestigious universities all over the world, said Russell. “Even if you don't get the diploma, you
still get the benefit,” she added. “You don't even know if you
got the diploma till several weeks after you graduate high school, but just
through the program is great preparation for college.”
Leander High School applied to join the IB program in 1997. “There was
an intensive application process,” said Russell. “We had to submit
a lot of information about the school, curriculum, teachers and training.
The program then sent a site team to decide if LHS would be authorized as
The school was authorized by the program in 1999 and graduated its first IB student
Teachers in the IB program must attend special training. Leander High School
currently has 30 IB trained teachers.
Some of the students' work is externally moderated, being shipped all over the
world to be graded. They take exams at the end of their courses. Performance
in the class and on exams is graded to give an IB score in each of the six subjects.
If a student makes a total score of 24 points, he or she receives an IB diploma.
In addition to their course work, students in the IB program must perform community
service and receive at least 150 CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) hours.
Math teacher Ralene Gideon coordinates the CAS portion of the IB program.
Each IB student also writes an essay and takes a course about reason and critical
thinking called Theory of Knowledge (TOK). Judy Guerra, who is campus coordinator
for the IB program, teaches TOK - a course students can only get through IB.
“ It teaches epistemology, asking ‘how do we know what we know?'” said
Guerra. “Students learn all the ways we acquire knowledge and discover
all of them are flawed. They leave as critical thinkers who ask ‘what
do we really know?' It makes them more rational arguers, who don't accept
everything they hear without questioning.”
IB courses are different from regular high school courses
in creativity as well as difficulty. For example, an IB
math course recently dealt with the question, “did
people invent mathematics or did they discover it?” As an exercise,
the class proposed an alien race on another planet with only three appendages
proceeded to invent a system of mathematics that made sense for that race.
“ We're always looking at refining the IB program,” said Russell. “We
review our program on an annual basis. This year, we're going through a five-year
review. We will do self-reflection, and will also get a review from the IB
LISD's IB program is for students throughout the district, but it is housed at
Leander High School. Those who live in other attendance areas must transfer into
LHS to participate in the IB program.
“ We have students who transfer in every year,” said Russell. “When
the district decided to apply to the IB program, there was only one high
school. As LISD has grown with the program and learned the IB concept, the district
has decided to provide transportation rather than try to duplicate it at different
campuses. Transportation has been done very successfully, and is very convenient
should a student decide to transfer in and participate in the IB program.”
Entering the IB program is a big decision - for the student and the student's
“ If they are thinking about it, we will let students come in and shadow
some IB courses to see if it's something they might want to do,” Russell
Katie Loeffler, a senior, enrolled in IB because she wanted
more rigorous courses. “I
like the way it's not just about straight facts, but more about in-depth concepts,” she
said. “Especially the TOK courses. They come with a lot of good homework
and a lot of good reading.” Loeffler plans to study liberal arts and
science, and perhaps engineering in college. She has applied to Rice, Duke
and the University
Senior C.W. Reynolds enrolled in IB because he wanted to get more out of school,
and wanted to surround himself with others who felt the same way.
“ I was in basic courses and I got tired of it, because people seemed not
to care,” Reynolds said. “First, I decided to take AP, and then
I found out about IB and decided to bump it up a notch.”
Copyright © 2005 Hill Country News