Reagan High School and Hogg Middle School are officially celebrating their new status this week as International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools, the latest HISD campuses to receive official authorization. After receiving approval July 5, the schools were able to begin offering the rigorous IB program when the new school year launched, creating the first continuous IB feeder pattern in the historic Houston Heights. Students begin the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) at Harvard Elementary and progress to the Middle Years Programme (MYP) at Hogg and Reagan.
Reagan celebrated with an induction ceremony on Nov. 13 that included an ROTC ceremony, the school band, the Reagan Redcoats, and an IB mixer featuring school clubs and organizations. Lamar High School Principal James McSwain attended the event.
Hogg MS is celebrating its new IB status with Heights STEM Night from 6:30 – 7:45 p.m. Nov. 14. Harvard and Travis Elementary students in grades 3 – 5 are invited to attend to learn more about IB and Hogg’s STEM program, as well as meet Hogg and Reagan faculty.
“The idea of establishing this feeder pattern started with the community about six years ago,” said Reagan Assistant Principal Nichole Kasmani, who is in charge of IB, AP, and GT programs. “Harvard jumped on board and got its IB status about two years ago, which lit a fire under Hogg and Reagan. We partnered in getting authorized to offer the Middle Years Programme (MYP), which targets students ages 11 to 16. We plan to add the Diploma Programme in two years so that our current freshmen will be eligible when they become juniors.”
Achieving IB authorization is a demanding and lengthy process – schools must align their curriculum to IB standards and train all their teachers in the IB philosophy. The IB diploma, which reflects a rigorous education, allows students to enter Texas public universities with 24 credit hours if they score 4 or higher on their IB exams.
Reagan joins two other HISD high schools with IB authorization – Bellaire and Lamar. “Lamar was a huge help in getting authorization,” said Kasmani. “They are an IB exemplary site, and school officials come from all over the country to study their program.”
“I believe in the IB program because it is absolutely the best thing out there,” said Dr. McSwain. “It’s the most rigorous program available. This is truly a milestone for Reagan.”
The IB program specifies learning in a broad base of disciplines – languages, mathematics, sciences, humanities, arts, physical education, and technology – to ensure that students have the knowledge and skills necessary for the future. IB students develop a genuine understanding of ideas and the ability to utilize them in new contexts.
“You filter your curriculum through the IB philosophy,” said Kasmani. “Unlike AP, you don’t pick and choose your advanced courses. The IB Diploma requires students to take six classes and the corresponding exams, complete a Theory of Knowledge course, write a 5,000-word thesis, and do a major community service project.
“The IB philosophy connects classroom learning with the real world,” said Kasmani. “For example, you don’t just learn a formula for exponential growth in math class – you than apply it to something like world population. Once the students figure out what the population is projected to be in 2050, they discuss the ramifications of that, such as how do you feed and house all those people?”
Five HISD elementary schools are authorized as IB – Harvard, Northline, River Oaks, Roberts, and Mark Twain. In addition to Hogg, there are three HISD IB middle schools – Lanier, Fondren, and Grady middle schools. Nine additional HISD schools are in the process of being certified – Briargrove ES, Briarmeadow Charter, Durham ES, Herrera ES, Poe ES, Rodriguez ES, The Rusk School, the School at St. George Place, and Wharton ES.