The South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education voted shortly before midnight on Monday, May 18, to discontinue the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme.
The 6-3 vote follows on a recommendation by district administration to discontinue the program, as well as numerous testimonials from South Orange and Maplewood middle school teachers against the program.
The program began implementation just last year with the 6th grade class of 2013/14. The adoption of the program in 2012 was packaged with the reduction of levels in middle school courses including science, social studies and English Language Arts and was seen as a possible means to guaranteeing a rigorous curriculum.
In his letter recommending discontinuation (presented to the Board of Education last month), Acting Superintendent of Schools James Memoli wrote:
This decision was not made lightly and is in no way a reflection of the work, professionalism, or commitment on the part of the administrators, the IB coaches, and the teachers at both middle schools. You have all made a herculean effort to implement this new initiative despite other major initiatives competing for your time and attention. No one could have predicted the timing or stress that the new PARCC assessment, Focus School status, the Common Core State Standards, or Achieve NJ mandates would have on the system. Addressing these externally mandated initiatives, and at the same time rolling out a new framework of teaching in the implementation of IB MYP, prevented the program from becoming as transformative as we had expected.
Voting for discontinuation were Johanna Wright, Wayne Eastman, Madhu Pai, Beth Daugherty, Donna Smith and Jeff Bennett. Voting against were Elizabeth Baker, Maureen Jones and Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad.
The resolution reads as follows:
SCHOOL DISTRICT OF SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ PUBLIC BOARD MEETING
May 18, 2015
SUBJECT: International Baccalaureate (IB) Program
WHEREAS, the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education acknowledges and accepts the value of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program concepts, including rigorous teaching and learning, a global perspective and the interdepartmental method of instruction;
WHEREAS, in 2012 the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education approved the proposal to implement the IB Middle Years Program (MYP) at the district’s middle schools over a three-year period;
WHEREAS, the timing of the implementation of the IB MYP at the middle schools coincided with the adoption of several state mandates, including the Common Core standards, PARCC testing, and ACHIEVENJ and TEACH NJ requirements;
WHEREAS, the implementation of the IB MYP has been difficult and less than successful for many of the middle school faculty, particularly in light of the adoption of the above-referenced additional programs and standards;
WHEREAS, there is no substantial prospect that the circumstances that have hindered the implementation of the IB MYP are likely to change;
WHEREAS, it is the sentiment of the Board of Education and the Administration that the district should not continue to spend resources on the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, given the above circumstances;
WE THEREFORE HEREBY RESOLVE:
That the IB MYP should be discontinued at the end of the 2014/2015 academic year; and
That the district Administration and the middle school faculty will continue to work on strategies for middle school instruction, that will maintain rigorous teaching and learning, a global perspective, interdisciplinary studies, and a collaborative teaching approach.