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From International Schools to Inner-City Schools: The First Principles of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

by Jerusha Osberg Conner - 2008

Background/Context: In the past 35 years, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program has spread to 483 schools across the United States, with an ever-growing share of these schools located in the inner city. These American school sites comprise vastly different contexts than those in which the IB program began-the international schools of Europe.

Purpose/Objective/Focus of Study: To understand the migration of the IB from international schools to inner-city schools, I examine both the intentions and the implementation of two of the most distinctive features of the program: its assessment system and its emphasis on promoting intercultural competence.

Research Design: In this analytic essay, I rely on historical accounts to uncover the first principles that the founders sought to embed in the design of these two curricular components. Drawing on accounts written by journalists and educators about the implementation of the IB, I then consider implications of these first principles in the context of American schools generally, and inner-city schools in particular.

Conclusions/Recommendations: I argue that although the growth of the IB may be due to the broad appeal of its first principles, as the IB continues to spread to new school sites, these first principles remain vulnerable, challenged by the constraints and conventions of the American schooling system. To remain true to its founding ideals and first principles, the program will need to continue to balance interests that in the American context often conflict, such as progressive and standards-based education, and access and prestige.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 2, 2008, p. 322-351
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14538, Date Accessed: 6/21/2021 5:38:42 PM

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About the Author
  • Jerusha Conner
    "Villanova University"
    E-mail Author
    JERUSHA OSBERG CONNER is an assistant Professor at Villanova University. Her research interests include urban school reform, student engagement in learning, and youth voice in school reform. Recent publications include “Participation in Social Change: Shifting Adolescents’ Developmental Pathways” in Beyond Resistance: Youth Activism and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Policy and Practice for America’s youth, edited by S. Ginwright, P. Noguera, and J. Cammarota (Routledge); and, with coauthors M. Galloway and D. Pope, “Stressed-Out Students-SOS: Youth Perspective on Changing School Climates” in International handbook of student experience in elementary and secondary schools, edited by D. Thiessen and A. Cook-Sather (Springer).
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