Danielle Bloom

The Associated Student Body released a statement, “join the Vocal Music Department, now a weighted IB class.”On  April 12, 2017, this statement was made on the ASB Instagram page but was taken down just hours after it was posted.

According to the ASB advisor Christopher Alvarez, a member from the VMD asked the ASB to make a post to advertise the announcement of an IB weighted Vocal Music class. AP/IB coordinator Jared Phelps stated that this class will not be offered during the next school year.

ASB Public Relations officers junior Dean Gamalinda and senior Amina Lovato explained that the statement was taken down due to “a miscommunication between [the ASB] and the VMD.” Gamalinda and Lovato declined to make any further comment.

As a means of recruiting, VMD members gave oral presentations in front of classmates in which they mentioned the possibility of the VMD being a weighted IB class for the 2017-2018 school year. Junior VMD members Andrea Cendejas and Rebecca Ibarra spoke in front of Don Dumas’ third period AP United States History class. Junior APUSH student Daniela-Garcia Arce was asked about the information presented.

“They basically said that the VMD was going to be offered as an IB class and you would get IB credit if you took the class,” Arce said.

For the VMD to offer a new weighted class, they would first have to submit a new course proposal to the Sweetwater Union High School District. The proposal would specify the course title, the required textbooks and a description of any additional funding required for the course and where the funds would come from. According to Phelps, none of this work has been done.

“In order for the VMD to offer IB Music as a course offering, Ms. Kennedy and the VMD would need to be able to provide all the curriculum required for IB Music and students taking the course would be required to do all of the work associated with an IB Music course,” Phelps said.

Part of the class installment process is to have a trial year for the course, which would entail Kennedy first independently teaching several students in the VMD the IB Music curriculum. These students would then go on to take the IB exam. If the students were successful, then the class proposal can be filed. The success of the students is not based primarily upon if they pass the exam, but also how it affects the VMD.

“If our students go through Music Machine and are able to do IB Music but find that it has significantly hampered Music Machine’s ability to perform to the point where the Music Machine program felt it was being hindered by IB, I don’t know if [the school] really wants to do that. That doesn’t seem like a healthy decision,” Phelps said.

According to Phelps, the biggest concern will be incorporating the IB curriculum with the show choir element in the VMD. A trial run of the course would be required to see if the curriculum of the IB course can be balanced with the VMD performing schedule.

Additional training would be required for Kennedy to prepare for the IB curriculum. The training would include reading an IB guide of the course and attending an IB training session. In addition, the teacher would look at past exams to see the material covered on the exam as well as on the internal assessment. Once the teacher becomes familiar with the material covered, the teacher will then develop the class curriculum. If all the planning is set and approved, then Phelps projects the class to be “a year-and-a-half away from now.”

“I expect Kennedy will be looking, as she looks through the IB Music Guide, to determine whether or not she’ll be able to cover all of that curriculum while maintaining her performance team,” Phelps said. “I’m sure that some students would be excited that there could be potential for them to earn a weighted grade for the work they do in the VMD.”

“I am still reading the syllabus and making plans, so the details have not yet been worked out,” VMD director Gail Kennedy said.