Leslie Siskin, Meryle Weinstein and Robyn Sperling—Institute for Education and Social Policy, New York University
This study evaluated a grant funded project to design, develop and deliver new support structures and services that would improve access to the IB Diploma Programme in Title 1 eligible schools. The study examined the experience of four pilot sites that implemented MYP to DP pathways in their middle and high schools, and tested and gave feedback on the new supports. The study found that schools' challenges included:
- building an MYP pathway across middle and high schools in different buildings with different organizations,
- meshing the MYP and DP philosophies and pedagogies,
- getting past preconceived notions of IB as a selective honors programme,
- funding DP exams and fees,
- the pressure to focus time, attention and resources on state exams and expectations at the expense of the IB,
- developing safety net supports for students who needed additional motivation and academic preparation,
- high principal and teacher turnover.
The most successful support service was facilitating access to IB professional development, including on- and off-site workshops. Guidance counselor training and involvement was particularly important to expanding access to IB and to the college admissions process. Participation in the grant itself, with direct support and advocacy from the IB regional office and access to the network of peer schools was also key. The effects of on-site coaching were mixed, but most effective when coaches had both expertise in IB and experience in urban schools. Professional Learning Groups, adopted with assistance from the coaches, were useful in making meetings more productive, in spreading IB to more staff, and in distributing leadership more widely. The study noted while schools saw progress in expanding enrollment, implementing organizational change, and increasing test scores, a fully constructed MYP to DP pipline would take at least 6 years to take the first cohort of students through the diploma. In keeping with this, only the school that had the fully functioning pipeline by the end of the study showed a strong pattern of increase in diplomas awarded.