Another Choice – The International Baccalaureate

AppleThrough the years residents have come from all over the world, and settled into Los Altos, for a variety of reasons. Having worked with relocating families, over the years, it is interesting to note the number of factors they take into consideration to reach their decision on where to live. Clearly, one top priority item for most families, is access to quality education. Traditionally, those families relocating with children, generally look for communities with excellent educational choices. 

Families, who relocate to Los Altos, have already researched the strong public and private schools in town. Their research is usually done well ahead of the actual move, and in consultation with someone versed in the local education arena. Having served on the Los Altos School Board, Carol & I strive to provide a level of nuanced insight not readily duplicated by other Realtors. On this web site, you will find a summary of public and private schools located within Los Altos, from Kindergarten to High School. Just like each neighborhood has its unique characteristics, each school site has its own unique culture. This statement holds true even when the schools produce similar API results.

However, for global families who relocate often, there are additional education considerations: continuity of a globally available educational program … the International Baccalaureate.

IB World SchoolThe International Baccalaureate (IB), is an international educational foundation founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland, and offers three educational programs for children ages 3-19. According to its mission statement, “The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment. These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”

The IB governance is composed of an IB Board of Governors. The Board appoints the Director General, sets the strategic direction of the organization, adopts a mission statement, makes policy, oversees the IB’s financial management, and ensures autonomy and integrity of the IB Diploma Program examinations and other student assessment. The United States currently has the largest number of IB programs (1,029 out of 2,704) offered in both private and public schools.

building_blocks_topInitially, the IB was designed as a Diploma Program which would provide an “internationally acceptable university admissions qualification suitable for the growing mobile population of young people whose parents were part of the world of diplomacy, international and multi-national organizations”. The program was design to offer internationally standardized courses and assessments for students ages 16 to 19. Since 1994, the IB has offered the IB Middle Years Program which is composed of eight subject areas and five areas of interaction and designed for students ages 11 to 16. In 1997, the IB added the IB Primary Years Program for children ages 3 through 10, an inquiry-based program relying on six global disciplinary themes supported by six subject areas.

Locally, the IB Diploma Program (high school degree equivalent) can be found at five regional schools, all located within a 15-30 minute drive from Los Altos. Those schools are: Sequoia High School, in Redwood City, which has been an IB World School since February 2002. Sequoia currently offers the IB Diploma Program to 450 students. Next, Pacific Rim International School, a private school located in San Mateo, has been an IB World School since February 2009 and plans to offer the IB Diploma Program to students this fall. Capuchino High School, in San Bruno, has been an IB World School since July 2003, and has 28 students enrolled in the IB Diploma Program. Andrew Hill High School, in San Jose, has been an IB World School since February 2003. This school currently offers the IB Diploma Program to 31 students. Finally, San Jose High Academy, in San Jose, has been an IB World School since July 1986. It offers both the IB Middle Years Program and the IB Diploma Program to 250 students.

Nearby IB LocationsWhile some concerns have been raised about the IB program in the past, there are many families who consider this an invaluable experience for their children. At the end of the day, having the type of quality educational choices available, in and around Los Altos, is important. We would be more than happy to help you navigate your available options, from schools to housing. As you begin your search, we offer to help you with your questions, when you are ready.

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