Rainier Beach High School’s record participation in IB-for-All, a FEPP levy-funded model for high-quality, inclusive learning for students
Launching a new career program this fall
Rainier Beach High School’s (RBHS) uniquely accessible IB-for-All program served 75% of the Class of 2022, representing 156 seniors, on their path to colleges and careers in 2021-2022. The International Baccalaureate (IB) has always been seen as an exclusive program, but RBHS is breaking the mold – students are taking IB courses in record numbers, representing one of the highest percentages of dual scholars credit enrolling in post-secondary programs in Washington State.
Funded in part by the Families, Education, Early Learning and Promise Levy (FEPP), RBHS IB programs challenge students to develop interdisciplinary critical thinking skills through a rigorous college preparation program. Course design builds on students’ strengths by allowing them to incorporate topics of interest into projects and tests administered.
Every Rainier Beach student can take IB courses, enjoying the competitive advantage it offers when applying for college. Students choose the Diploma or Medallion program depending on their goals. Students in the diploma program earn an internationally recognized certificate upon graduation. Some get college credit and advanced placement based on their test scores and the college they plan to attend. However, the degree program, with its six domains, theory of knowledge, independent research paper, and service-learning, can be a heavy burden for students with other commitments, regardless of whether be it athletics, jobs or caring for loved ones. To make the IB more accessible, teachers at RBHS created the Medallion program – rigorous but less demanding, requiring fewer courses, less class time, resulting in compelling applications for students without an IB diploma.
City funding expands access to educational opportunities
FEPP direct debit School Investments (SBI) support the IB at RBHS by supplementing state and school district funding and deepening educational supports for students. SBI funds allow 30 levy partner schools to develop solutions tailored to their unique student community. Rainier Beach, one of the SBI schools highlighted in DEEL’s 2nd year FEPP annual report, has invested approximately half of his school’s total SBI funding in inclusive IB programs, for a total of $287,000 in the 2021-2022 school year.
“Levy funding is important because it allows us to send more kids to four-year colleges for free and steer them into better-paying careers. Without it, we would not be able to have math lab classes, speakers, and other supports that prepare students for IB college-level courses. The IB program is important for students because it opens up the opportunities they deserve,” said Steven Miller, RBHS IB Coordinator and IB Theory of Knowledge teacher.
“IB is an important part of the preschool to post-secondary continuum we are building for Seattle students because it ensures a comprehensive educational experience for the entire school community,” said Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of DEEL. “It challenges teachers to improve teaching practices, collaborate, use data and engage families to positively impact students – these qualities are what make schools successful. ”
DEEL’s partnership with Rainier Beach is rooted in the IB program. Prior to coming to the city, DEEL Director Dr. Dwane Chappelle served as Director of RBHS from 2011 to 2015, where he was instrumental in launching the program, overseeing the IB application process until to implementation. Leadership has since passed to current principal Ivory Brooks, a strong advocate for accessible IB. DEEL’s Senior Curriculum Advisor for K-12, Colin Pierce, was also the school’s first IB coordinator, partnering with families and the community from 2011-2019 to apply. and implement the IB curriculum, laying the foundation for what the program is today. . Now in his role at DEEL, Colin Pierce is working closely with current IB Coordinator Steven Miller to continue supporting the program.
“Building the IB program at Rainier Beach was at the heart of the school family and community revitalization“, said Pierce. “The community told us what teaching and learning should look like at Rainier Beach, and that it should be designed to serve all students, especially those who are often marginalized by programs. With their partnership, we have built a program that provides transformative opportunities for students.”
Strengthen pathways to university and careers
This fall will mark the start of a new EFPI levy-supported IB career program that will complement the IB for All program by further strengthening academic and career pathways, especially for students pursuing skilled trades. From 2023, graduates will leave the IB career program with knowledge and practical work experience based on their area of interest. The program will also provide a new teacher dedicated to helping students navigate their next steps toward internships, jobs, or college.
“What excites me most about our career program is that our students interested in construction, culinary arts or the automotive industry will have a teacher to help them transition into those careers. This program will strengthen the our school’s pipeline to these industries and solidify relationships with local employers in a systematic way that will more meaningfully serve our students,” said Steven Miller.
DEEL invests in innovative programs to accelerate Seattle students toward their education and career goals. As with all Seattle Public School high school graduates, Rainier Beach IB graduates have access to city-funded investments, including the Seattle Promise Program which offers free tuition at Seattle Colleges. From there, students have even more opportunities to transfer to a four-year college with additional mentorship and financial assistance through Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) Where Path to UW.
Right now, many Rainier Beach IB 2022 graduates are ready to embark on their biggest adventure yet: college this fall! In addition to new Seattle Promise Scholars who will attend Seattle Colleges, 2022 graduates will attend four-year institutions across the country: University of Washington, Pacific Lutheran University, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, University of California Los Angeles, Dartmouth and Portland State – many with full scholarships. Congratulations, graduates!