The Duval County School Board will vote next month on a plan to remove the International Baccalaureate program from Edward H. White Military Academy of Leadership and replace it with an early college program.
District data shows last year only 19 IB exams were taken at Ed White and only one was passed. Students in the rigorous IB program who score well on a variety of subject tests get college credit and a special diploma at the end of high school.
But Ed White School Board member Becki Couch said lots of Ed White students took dual enrollment classes at the Florida State College at Jacksonville, and did well in them.
Ed White students took a total of 356 college courses last school year and they passed 98 percent of them.
Couch said that’s why the school is wanting to transition to a full early college program.
The program would allow students to spend their entire junior and senior years at FSCJ, have a counselor at the college and get to start college classes even earlier than dual-enrollment students.
The goal is for them to have earned their associates degree when they graduate from Ed White.
However, Couch said some community members from other schools near Ed White want to know why their school can’t get a new program. Couch says it’s not an either-or decision.
“We really need to have this conversation for a lot of our high schools,” she said. “The programs were put in place about 12 years ago and education changes, you see that so there’s an opportunity to revisit different programs throughout the district that may need some new life breathed into them or a change in direction.”
At a school board workshop about a year ago, low IB scores were attributed to high teacher turnover in the program. Former Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti had said it’s hard to train and keep IB-certified teachers.
Students in IB still earn college credit, but it’s determined on if they pass their standardized IB examinations.
Three community meetings at Ed White and feeder school Silwell Military Academy, were held in November for the district to get feedback on the proposed change.
If approved, the school is expected to enroll a cohort of 25 students into the early college program next school year.
Couch said Ed White students who still want to participate in IB will be able to transfer to another district school that offers it.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.