Kit Carson challenging International Baccalaureate program prepares students for higher education

Diploma program prepares students for rigorous college work

Sacramento area middle school students and their parents, often hear about different academic paths students can take in high school, each with a number of benefits and challenges. One of the most rigorous choices of study is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, called IB (DP) for short

Kit Carson International Academy became an IB school in June of 2016 when the school registered for the IB organization’s Middle Years Program for students in middle school. In 2017, IB granted Kit Carson authorization to expand into the Diploma Program, which serves students through high school graduation and generally aligns with 11th and 12th grades. Kit IB coordinator Shawn D’Alesandro oversees both programs. 

D’Alesandro, who has worked at Kit for 30 years,describes IB as focusing on a “global curriculum” which benefits kids by leaving them more confident and with more experience. However the courses can be quite demanding. 

“Time management is very important, due dates are based on other classes so there isn’t much pileup but if you move the due date it is harder,” said D’Alesandro. 

This pileup can leave students scrambling to complete assignments before a strict deadline. “The skill level required and amount of work overwhelms students at first,” said Kim Rodriguez, who teaches English Language Arts to students in the Middle Years and Diploma programs.

There are however many things to like about the program. Shawn said some of her favorite parts are how she can see who graduates and the type of student who accomplishes the task. As of December 2021, IB has had more than 1.2 million students all over the globe graduate with an IB diploma and the career-related diploma.

At Kit Carson, you have to take all seven IB courses, even though the certificate does not necessarily require them all. Teachers at Kit believe that the benefits of these courses allow for a greater foundation to face the world. 

It’s a program with components that are designed to develop your character along with your academics. It is also created to help you evaluate your own approaches to learning so you become a better lifelong learner,” said Rodriguez. 

IB is a worldwide program which has a global focus. In art classes the students draw other kids as a part of “The Memory Project” which is a non-profit organization which allows them to draw portraits of children from another part of the globe who have faced many challenges. Last year, the students drew portraits of children from Cameroon and this year they are drawing children from Nigeria. After completion, the portraits are then delivered to the children. 

The IB program is centered on a set of principles called the IB learner profile. These profiles help promote student growth and habits which will help them not just in school but in life in general. The ten IB learner profile components are communicator, thinker, knowledgeable, open-minded, risk-taker, balanced, principled, inquirer, reflective, and caring. 

These principles can help students get ready for college. While the IB program isn’t centered specifically around  college-readiness, some parts are deemed just as challenging as college classes. 

“If you get a certain score on an IB exam some colleges will have you not take classes because you’ve taken the equivalent during senior year,” said D’Alesandro. 

This is similar to how another rigorous high school program, called Advanced Placement, works.

Rodriguez said students leave the program better prepared for college.

“IB really does prepare students for top colleges. Many freshmen in college find that their high schools did not prepare them for the skill level and rigor. This one does according to all of our students who report back to us,” she said