THE BLOG
05/12/2014 05:24 pm ET Updated Jul 12, 2014

Expanding IB Programs in Chicago Public Schools Helps Improve School Performance and Foster Collaboration

Recently, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) made a landmark announcement to expand the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program in five Chicago public schools benefiting more than 1500 students and creating the largest IB Network in the nation. The goal of the expansion is to help increase global mindedness and enhance academic rigor so students are better prepared to problem solve in a real world setting. This progress and continued expansion is commendable and I am proud of CPS for this pledge.

I founded the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), a charter school on the southwest side of Chicago, with the dream to reimagine public education. I had a vision that every one of our students would learn and apply concepts like math, science and history into the context of globally relevant lessons and challenges. I wanted to integrate competencies like critical thinking, independent learning, intercultural understanding and creativity into their everyday school experience. I was committed to ensuring that our students were prepared with the skills necessary to be the greatest inventors of solutions to today's most pressing global challenges. To do this, AGC adapted the IB framework as part of our core philosophy and is an authorized IB primary school program.

Over the past six years, we have demonstrated that the IB Program is a solid framework for all types of learners, not just the academically advanced. When we adopted the IB Program, we knew it needed to work within our unique student population. Our student demographics mirror CPS averages almost perfectly: 79 percent low-income, 91 percent minority, and 20 percent SPED and 30 percent English language learners. And the results to date have been dramatic.

Through global partnerships with schools in countries like Uganda and Peru, students have had the opportunity to communicate with other students around the global to explore similarities and differences among cultures, helping to further put their learnings into context. Expanding the IB Program within Chicago allows us to provide students and families with another opportunity for a high-quality public education and a pathway to succeed in this growing international marketplace - studies have shown CPS students in IB Programe are 40 percent more likely to attend a four-year college with an almost 90 percent college retention rate. It is exciting to see Chicago examining its approach to education in order to move the needle on progress as well as better prepare our students for an increasingly global, interdependent future. If we do this right, together, we can reimagine public education.

Sarah Elizabeth Ippel is the founder and executive director of the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC). AGC is hosting its second annual celebrity chef-centered Chefs' Playground gala on May 15, where 20 culinary greats will gather to celebrate good food and AGC's vision to reimagine public education. Visit us at www.agcchicago.org to learn more.