Area schools help Butler become 22nd IB university program in world

Butler University College of Education (COE) has become the first college of education  in Indiana—and only the 22nd in the world—authorized to offer teacher certification courses in International Baccalaureate (IB) education for Primary Years—for students ages 3-12—and Middle Years—ages 11-16.

General Jordan ExteriorCOE will begin offering a sequence of four IB certificate courses in summer 2014, as an option for practicing teachers interested in IB-focused professional development, as well as for active educators enrolled in the Master’s in Effective Teaching and Learning (METL) graduate program.  (Contact METL Program Director Brooke Kandel-Cisco for more information.)

A recognition team from the non-profit International Baccalaureate organization formally approved Butler’s application to teach the certification courses, following a campus visit November 13 and 14.

Rivaling advanced placement courses in academic rigor, IB education focuses on languages, intercultural perspectives, research- and inquiry-based learning, and community service. The IB organization claims more than 1,137,000 IB students ages 3-19 at 3,675 schools in 146 countries, including 1,370 public and private schools in the United States.

“METL students will have the option of taking the certificate courses as elective credit, which will make them even more desirable to school districts (even in non-IB districts) because it will be a marker of their strong pedagogical skills and deep curricular understandings,” said Susan Adams, Assistant Professor of Middle/Secondary Education. Adams and Kandel-Cisco headed the college’s two-year effort to obtain IB recognition.

“The International Baccalaureate’s aim is to develop knowledgeable and caring young people, who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect,” said Dean of Education Ena Shelley.

“This aligns with Butler’s Vision 2020, which outlines the larger, changing role higher education must play in our community and the world,” Shelley said. “IB values also mesh with the College of Education’s commitment to prepare educators for schools as they should be, not perpetuating schools as they exist today. The team commended President Danko and COE for their vision of Butler University as an educational thought leader.”

Collaboration with Local IB Programs
COE’s decision to pursue IB recognition started with a request from the College’s IB partnership districts and schools—Metropolitan School District of Washington Township, the International School of Indiana, and the Indianapolis Public Schools’ Gambold Preparatory Magnet High School and Center for Inquiry (CFI) schools No. 2 and No. 84. The schools wanted to build the talent pool of available IB-certified educators.

IB training is expensive, said CFI School 84 Principal Chris Collier, so having a local option for faculty professional development is a definite benefit. IB offers its own teacher training workshops, but also began partnering with university teacher preparation programs in the past few years, as demand for IB schools grew.

“How proactive of Butler to see what’s happening with IB in our state and be responsive,” said Collier. COE’s Laboratory School and other school partnerships model the inquiry approach and best teaching practices valued in IB, she said. “A school that has the reputation Butler has for teacher education gives credence to what we’re doing. It’s a win for teachers who want to explore teaching in IB, and a win the University, expanding what they offer for teachers in this region.”

Representatives of Indianapolis IB schools met regularly with Adams and Kandel-Cisco in the 2012-2013 academic year to “teach us the IB language,” Adams said, and to guide COE in course design, engagement, and assessments.

“Teachers from our partner schools know far more of what’s going on in IB on the ground,” she said. Some area IB practitioners will co-teach the certification courses at Butler along with COE faculty.  Chad Hyatt, IB curriculum coach for Washington Township schools, assisted the Butler faculty in writing the application document and the course syllabi.

Online Hybrid Courses
The first three courses will be offered as online hybrid courses, combining some online course management and threaded discussions with on-campus instruction over long weekends.

“This attends to needs of working adults who want to be students,” Adams said. “People can come in from the region.”

She said the IB team urged Butler to apply for recognition of an Advanced Certificate in Teaching and Learning Research program, which delves deeper into curriculum development, pedagogy, and assessment. It’s a very natural extension of the sorts of inquiry projects METL students already create as part of their coursework,” Adams said.

Over the next few years, COE may also seek recognition to offer IB certification options for undergraduate preservice teacher candidates and the IB Diploma Programme Certificate, which covers instruction for college-bound 16- to 19-year-olds.

The latter, Adams said, “is something our partnership districts and schools are eager to see us take on.”

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
(317) 940-6944