North Atlanta High School will host training for International Baccalaureate teachers as more Atlanta schools offer the IB curriculum.

The Atlanta school system plans to join with the Center for Advancement and Study of International Education to provide the training at North Atlanta, The partnership, starting this summer, is expected to save Atlanta Public Schools more than $70,000 this year alone.

Over the last 15 years, APS has sent thousands of teachers to IB training with CASIE. Now that APS plans to expand its IB program beyond the North Atlanta cluster to include the Jackson and Mays clusters, the number of schools offering the IB program could go from 13 to as many as 30 in the next three to five years, school officials said.

“The International Baccalaureate is an education system that provides end of high school exams with global standards, which are the same in every IB school around the world,” said CASIE Board Chairwoman Dr. Monique Seefried at an April 27 press conference announcing the new partnership.

North Atlanta has offered the IB curriculum since 1982 and its IB diploma program is the oldest in the southeast, according to the school’s website.

IB functions as a whole integrated curriculum. Students take six subjects, including math, science, a second language, and the arts, write a 4,000-word essay, perform 150 hours of community service, and take a “Theory of Knowledge” course over two years.

The curriculum is intended to emphasize critical-thinking skills. A student can get over a year of college credit by making good grades on an IB diploma. The IB exam is recognized in over 120 countries around the world as a university entrance credential.

The IB program also provides teacher training to prepare educators to offer IB programs at elementary, middle, and high-school levels. John Denine, who oversees APS’s IB, Advanced Placement, and dual-enrollment programs, said CASIE is the only IB training group in Atlanta.

Over the last 15 years, APS has sent thousands of teachers to IB training with CASIE, and that was when only a single cluster of schools offered the program.

North Atlanta will host IB training for teaching, with rental fees waived and IT support provided. In exchange, APS will receive a 25 percent discount on all APS employees undergoing IB training. This summer, 276 APS employees will receive this training.

“This is a wonderful idea,” said Cynthia Briscoe Brown, a member of the Atlanta Board of Education. “It supports what we have been doing in the North Atlanta Cluster for many years and allows us to build on that foundation city-wide.”

Brown’s two children graduated from NAHS’s IB diploma program. As a parent, Brown was involved in gathering community support for an IB curriculum and bringing that support to the attention of the IB organization. She is glad the new program will help the North Atlanta Cluster share its knowledge and experience with the IB program to help the other Atlanta schools.

“A big component of a high-quality IB program is teacher training,” she said. “The training offered through this program today will allow us to put high-quality IB teachers in many more of our schools and in many more of our students’ lives.”

–Matthew W. Quinn