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Expand IA Opportunity

Expand access to the best education the Bloomfield Hills School District knows how to deliver. For too long, access to the International Academy (IA) for BHSD students has been governed by LUCK.

There is a school not run by the public school district in which it is located. It is a selective school attracting the best and the brightest students. It has a national reputation for academic excellence. Students must apply and pass an admissions test to be considered for admission. There is limited capacity. Admission is reported to be “by lottery” among qualified applicants.

The school is the International Academy. It is the pride of the community – including the district within whose borders it exists, BHSD. However, the BHSD School Board chose not to expand its 30 “seat” presence to serve more of its nearly 100 students qualified students each year. It chose not to respond even when 20 “seats” become available when Farmington dropped out of the consortium.

Even if BHSD had claimed all of the available “seats,” about half of the qualified students in BHSD would still be denied the opportunity to attend the school of their choice – the IA. How could this situation be allowed to persist for over a decade? How could a district that prides itself on providing a maximum of choice for its students deliberately fail its most academically inclined students?

Apparently, high achieving students of BHSD are free to be “architects of their future” only when they are among the one third of the eligible BHSD students lucky enough to win the IA admissions lottery. Parents should not be satisfied with perpetuating a situation were luck determines their child's learning opportunity. Each child has but one opportunity to be admitted to the IA.

Until the International Baccalaureate Programme in the mainline high school has been demonstrated to provide the equivalent educational outcome, as measured by generally accepted assessment tests, parents should not be fooled by District protestations that the “IB at Bloomfield High” is the equivalent to the educational experience at the IA. Many know better. In fact, those with means who would send their children to the IA refuse to send them to Bloomfield High if their children fail to win the “lottery.”

Should BHSD continue to deny its most academically advanced students the opportunity to excel? Is it right?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Roach January 20, 2013 at 08:18 PM
I have tried to synthesize many of the comments above. In general, I observe a desire to see that all the students get the best education they are able to absorb. Some, including Elizabeth, believe that can best be accomplished for her children by providing maximum choice. Others, including Vic, seem to believe there may be too much choice. This less structured environment might let students avoid the most rigorous courses (if there is insufficient parental and guidance input in course selection). A second theme centers around the specifics of the IB Programme. First, it is not a program best suited for every student. That appears to be accepted. The discussion concerns the alternatives – IB at IA and IB at Bloomfield High. The statements appear to accept that the IB tests are rigorous and equal individual outcomes are equal regardless of the building (school). My concern is, although on an individual basis the above may be true, is there an inherent strength to the program at IA? Is there something about the IB at the IA that challenges the individual to excel. Its that “something” present in the IB at Bloomfield Hills High? (continued)
John Roach January 20, 2013 at 08:19 PM
(continuation) We know the IA is selective – requiring academic excellence to be admitted. Does this (and as one contributor noted the multi-district nature of the student body) create a more competitive environment where excellence is expected and more frequently forthcoming? I do not know the answer, but would like to find out. That is what I am driving at – is the IA inherently more challenging and therefore more likely to succeed in eliciting the best effort on the part of the student? How can we find out? If it is, can those characteristics be duplicated at Bloomfield High?
W. F. Moigis January 20, 2013 at 10:52 PM
John, I believe that we will get a partial answer to your excellent posting this year when we will be able to compare the I.A and I.B. test results. But yes, you are right in your assesment of where I mostly stand regarding this matter. With a more rigorous core (on both ends - content and courses required ) I see substantial more of our kids being competitive with the rest of the industrialized world. Best personal regards, Vic
-Elizabeth- January 20, 2013 at 11:26 PM
John, I think your premise that the IA is selective because it requires academic excellence to be admitted is backwards. It is an excellent school because it attracts motivated high achieving students. I see that there could be students who excel in subjects not considered by some as core courses and as such they should have the opportunity to take classes where their intellect and talent takes them. What I felt was being implied was that these other courses were not rigorous. To me, the IA and the IB program is not the end all and be all for every student. It certainly is for some and for those students it is the best fit. For other students, taking many AP classes is the best fit. For others, taking some AP classes, some Model High School classes, some electives, and some classes that allow them to master a subject over a longer period is the best fit. If that is what you mean by choices then I am in agreement. If it isn't what you mean, then you would have to expound on your definition.
John Roach January 21, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Elizabeth -- I think we are saying the same thing. IA attracts highly motivate, high achieving students. In my parlance, that is being selective. Not everyone who wants to attend is even deemed qualified, much less is admitted (lottery and all). Second, not all highly motivated, high achieving students want to go (or parents think it is wise for them to go) to the IA. I agree the IA (IB) is not a magic bullet for all high achieving students. I have tried to focus on those high achieving, highly motivated students who are qualified and desire to attend IA. I am not oposed to the IB at Bloomfield High. I sjupport a rigorous comparison of IB at IA and IB at Bloomfield HIgh to be certain we are offering all our students the best of the best. If the IB at IA is better than the IB at Bloomfield Hills, why? Hopefully, with determined scrutiny, time will tell. One measure would be the persistance of a Bloomfield Hills "waiting list" at IA.

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