Katherine Valderrama


Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, a decision to separate Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses for the students at Bonita Vista High School will go into effect. The formal split of these two programs was a concept put forth by current AP/IB coordinator Jared Phelps and accepted by BVH Principal Bettina Batista alongside the rest of the teaching staff. These changes will impact eleventh and twelfth grade English, history, math and some science courses.

“Overall I see it as a benefit to our students. [The division] will support our IB program and will also offer more course options for students because they won’t need to be in the IB program to take IB History. It also allows teachers to focus on teaching the program that they’re representing,” current AP U.S. History and planned IB History teacher Candice Guad Devore said.

According to Phelps, most schools with an IB program present the curriculum over a two year period. Currently, IB English and IB History at BVH are only open to seniors and the curriculum has therefore been forced to fit into one academic school year. It was decided that students and teachers have been at a disadvantage in preparing for the IB standardized tests.

“For English, we have ten titles crammed into one specific school year and that does not allow a substantial exploration of all the subjects. The goal of the separation, in part, is to break that up into a two-year program in order to cover everything more adequately. We always find ourselves running out of time at the end of the school year right before the exams,” IB English 12 teacher Gabriel Garcia said.

Starting next year, BVH juniors and seniors will choose between AP and IB courses. In the English program, juniors may enroll in either AP English Language and Composition or IB English Higher Level 1 while seniors will have a choice between AP English Literature and IB English HL 2.

“I want the students to be able to make informed choices about the classes that they are taking, so I would encourage them to ask the teachers, both current and prospective, for their input. We are trying to do things right and to make the best options available for our students,” Phelps said.

BVH now offers juniors two options for both their junior and senior year social science courses: AP US History with AP US Government, AP/IB Economics or Government/Economics or the option of taking IB History SL with IB History of the Americas HL.

Students can now choose Integrated Math III/Pre-IB Math as a new math course designed to prepare students for future IB math courses. In addition, the science course change involves AP Environmental Science and IB Environmental Systems and Societies being formally split next school year. While both AP and IB courses are weighted and have standardized exams to determine whether a student has reached proficiency and also to earn college credit, there are some differences between the programs.

“In an AP class, you will encounter the professor teaching testing skills knowledge through the [implementation] of exams. While in an IB class, you face more writing and ways to show what you know. Both AP and IB classes have made me more aware of what a college class might look like and made me feel more prepared,” junior AP and IB Carolina Miranda said.

The standardized tests for the AP and IB courses cover different material and are presented in different formats. Due to the fact that students are choosing either AP or IB, they will not be able to take both AP and IB tests for the given course. AP and IB courses both offer college credit but are taught differently by teachers based on the given curriculum.

“Students shouldn’t worry about who is teaching what course or whether they will be at a disservice in taking one over the other. They are going to be in good hands regardless of who ends up teaching those courses. Ultimately, they will be rewarded by the material that’s being covered either way,” Garcia said.

The purpose of the IB program is not to earn college credit but to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. According to the IB Learner Profile, these students should demonstrate growth and mastery of the subject over time. The AP program is designed to present rigorous college level coursework in a high school setting and provide the ability to earn college credits. The division of the AP and IB programs will provide BVH students the opportunity to decide what type of focus they want to take in relation to their school subjects.

“IB is not really a program that was ever designed for the academic elite. It is supposed to be a program that benefits a wide range of students. I believe that BVH can do that by expanding the IB program into two years and allowing our students more time to learn the curriculum,” Phelps said.