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Twins Ashley and Meagan Rankin

Regina Public Schools decided that the International Baccalaureate (IB) program will be permanently phased out of the school division, at a board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

 

Darren Boldt, deputy director of student achievement for Regina Public Schools, said that it was a tough decision for the division because it has offered the IB program at Thom and Campbell Collegiate for over 30 years.

 

“We know that we wanted to provide equal access to an enriched program for all students,” he said, adding this is what the decision came down to.

 

Rory O’Hagan, an IB teacher at Campbell Collegiate, said the program made Campbell a better school.

 

“All of the students, including students that were not in the IB program, I think still benefitted from it. It brought teachers into the school who had greater expertise in their particular fields, and that helped all students,” he said.

 

The IB program offered a world-recognized enriched program. “Past and present IB teachers all agree that the international aspect of IB is a benefit to the program,” the board’s report stated.

 

National recognition of bilingualism in French and university credit recognition were other benefits of the program, enabling graduates to go directly into some second-year university courses after high school.

 

“It’s pretty obvious that Saskatchewan doesn’t care about its future. They whine and they complain when young people run off to places like Alberta, but when they take away things like (IB) from our youth they’re robbing the whole province,” said Ashley Rankin, 30, who took IB classes at Campbell and is studying geography at the University of Regina.

 

“It’s really sad because it was such a great program that prepared me for university,” said Rankin’s twin sister Meagan, who also took the IB program and graduated from the U of R with a political science degree.

 

Low enrolment at Thom Collegiate prompted the initial program phase-out. From 2010 to 2016 the number of IB exams written at Thom dropped from 73 to 17. On the other hand, Campbell’s program was doing well. In 2015, 85 exams were written, up from 51 in 2010.

 

The board report noted that although the program was open to students across the city, enrollees were mostly from the Thom and Campbell high school boundary areas. The school board wanted to make sure all interested students had the opportunity to take the program based on a central location in the city.

 

In 2015 the school board decided to stop the program at Thom and Campbell Collegiate, and planned to send future students to Balfour High School. But based on feedback gathered by the school division, students showed low interest in attending Balfour, prompting the decision to end the program.

 

Although making the program accessible to students across the city played a major role in the cancellation of the program, Boldt admitted that cost was also a factor in the decision.

 

The program at Thom and Campbell totaled over $750,000 in 2014-2015, including fees to accredit each school, exams and couriers, professional development and staffing.

 

Less-costly Advanced Placement Program classes in all public high schools will replace the IB program. In 2014-2015, AP was offered at Balfour, Sheldon and Winston Knoll collegiate at a total cost of $6,800, which worked out to $100 per student, compared to $7,592 per student at Campbell and $20,875 at Thom, the board report stated.

 

“We know that through our research that IB and AP are very similar in what they offer students, and AP is much easier to offer students versus having a stand-alone IB program where students would have to leave their home school and come to that (new) school,” said Boldt.