IB Leaves Prep

On February 23, 2022 an update was sent out to the Prep Community announcing a new curriculum named Aspire to Excellence. In November of 2020 the faculty and staff started a review of the High School curriculum. This review was driven to develop an outstanding new curriculum that provides college preparation, student developments, exploring and achieving.

Aspire to Excellence or A2E will be fully implemented by 2023. When fully implemented this will offer new pathways for students grades 9-12. The new curriculum will be based on the Prep Learning Goals which are based on Benedictine Values. Which are,

  1. Excel Academically (Dignity of Work, Ora et Labora)
  2. Grow Spiritually (Awareness of God)n
  3. Develop Socially (Community Living, Respect for Persons)
  4. Serve Compassionately (Servicem Common Good, Justice)
  5. Think Creatively (In All Things May God Be Glorified)
  6. Embrace Difference (Hospitality, Respect for Persons)
  7. Engage Globally (Respect for Persons, Strive for Peace, Stewardship)

The new curriculum has three parts. The first part is just the regular Foundational Curriculum. If students chose this they would follow Preps Graduation requirements which already exceed Minnesota state standards. The second part is Academic Distinctions. This would allow students to pick a subject that they find interesting and do extra work beyond the main graduation requirements, and receive distinction for this work. The third part would be the Honors Program. The Honors Program offers the highest level of distinction. Honors students must complete three Academic Distinctions, a faculty advised senior capstone, and a Knowledge and Truth and Knowledge course.

With consideration the Administration decided that it would not be possible to implement this new curriculum and continue the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at the same time.

“The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a global leader in international education—developing inquiring, knowledgeable, confident, and caring young people. Our programmes empower school-aged students to take ownership in their own learning and help them develop future-ready skills to make a difference and thrive in a world that changes fast” (ibo.org). The IB program offered very little flexibility which limited many students not to be able to participate.

The current Head of School and Principal commented on the new curriculum saying, “As we considered the elements of the new Aspire to Excellence curriculum last winter, we determined with our teachers that the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program limited the flexibility of our curriculum as well as the number and types of courses we could offer our students. We could not simultaneously develop the new programs and pathways for distinction we imagined AND deliver the IB curriculum. Though a strong experience for many students, in the ten years it has been offered at Prep, fewer than 3 in 10 graduates have completed the IB Diploma. The Aspire to Excellence curriculum, when fully implemented in the 2023-24 school year, will provide opportunities for all students to pursue academic distinction without the constraints of the singular IB program. While the new A2E curriculum will not include the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, it will include, among other things, Advanced Placement courses, expanded opportunities to pursue college courses, new Prep courses, a defined Honors Program, and other learning experiences we cannot offer now. The new curriculum will continue the commitment to academic excellence that distinguishes Prep. Our Board of Regents unanimously supported the change this winter and we very much look forward to the new and deeper opportunities it will provide for our students to achieve and demonstrate their unique talents.”

There are many excited students at prep and a couple of hesitant ones to see the new curriculum in place. Many sophomores have decided their courses strategically around IB, and just were making decisions when the update was announced and courses were being decided

upon later that week. Many are disappointed that the new curriculum will not be fully implemented until the fall of their senior year. This is intended to be a 2-4 year program. While the faculty and staff tend to make adjustments for this class to be able to receive honors. It will not be the same, and many are worried of being shorted of the experience they were promised.

One current student stated, “The announcement made about Prep’s decision came just months before many current sophomores planned to pursue the IB diploma. The lack of transparency regarding such a big curriculum change for students who were planning to participate in the program was frustrating. In the future, I hope to see better communication from our school’s administration.”

While another stated, “While I am a little disappointed to see the IB Program leave, I cannot wait for the new opportunities and flexibility A2E will bring to Prep!”

While this Curriculum is a big change there are many different perspectives. Everyone seems optimistic of the future, while remaining nervous about IB leaving prep, for the decisions and preparations that were made to have that curriculum.