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International Baccalaureate classes coming to Seneca Valley

| Saturday, April 19, 2014, 5:15 p.m.

Seneca Valley School District will offer International Baccalaureate classes next school year to complement its Advanced Placement program and give students more global learning opportunities.

The International Baccalaureate is a highly rigorous college-preparation program that stresses innovative critical thinking and learning from a global perspective. Seneca Valley will become one of three school districts in the region to offer the program.

The International Baccalaureate course offerings at Seneca Valley will be exclusively online hosted by Adrian Public Schools, an International Baccalaureate school district in Michigan that will include subjects not offered through Seneca Valley's AP program, said Seneca Valley Cyber Program Principal Denise Manganello.

The HL, or High Level, courses require 240 academic hours during two years. The SL, or Standard Level, courses require 140 academic hours during two years.

Seneca Valley will offer two-year courses in business and management HL/SL, information technology in a global society HL/SL, philosophy SL, film SL and introductory Mandarin.

The district will pay $1,300 per student enrolled in each two-year course, Manganello said.

Seneca Valley assistant superintendent Matt McKinley said student interest in AP courses and online learning opportunities has grown.

“It's a different type of rigor and challenge for students,” he said. “Beyond the transcripts and weighted courses, there's critical thinking and 21st-century thinking skills.”

The cost of the program has been included in the district's 2014-15 preliminary budget. Final costs will be determined based on interest.

McKinley expects students to be drawn to International Baccalaureate courses because of the potential for college credit, course placement and scholarship opportunities and the global learning environment.

Manganello said students who take online IB classes will be placed in a class with 24 other students from across the nation and world.

Mars Area School District Assistant Superintendent Matt Friedman said his district has not considered offering International Baccalaureate courses, but said the program is well-known for its highly competitive curriculum.

“I think we at Mars can offer a parallel, equally rigorous curriculum,” Friedman said. “This is just one vehicle to help do that, but there's a lot of options that help do that.”

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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