Let the celebration begin! The Seattle Public Schools Office of Public Affairs released this announcement on Thursday, March 25, 2013:

Rainier Beach High School will offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) program starting next fall

The school on Wednesday afternoon received word that its program, developed over the past three years, has been approved by the nonprofit International Baccalaureate Organization

International Baccalaureate is a college-preparatory program that includes two years of courses in six subjects. At the end, students take exams, which are scored by representatives appointed by the IB organization, a non-profit education group based in Switzerland

The IB diploma is recognized by 1,800 universities and students can earn college credit based on the results of end-of-course exams

“I want to congratulate the entire Rainier Beach community — staff, students and parents — on receiving IB accreditation,” Seattle Schools Superintendent José Banda said. “IB is considered one of the most successful and prestigious high school programs in the U.S., and the IB organization grants approval for only a small number of schools nationwide.”

According to Rainier Beach IB Coordinator Colin Pierce, Rainier Beach students will benefit from being exposed to courses with challenging curriculum, regardless of whether they take selected International Baccalaureate classes or become a candidate for the full IB Diploma

“What we know based on national best practices and research is that a student who may struggle with an advanced level course is still enriched far more than he or she would be in a less-challenging class,” Pierce said

Research out of the University of Chicago has also shown that the program has a strong benefit for first- generation college-goers and other students otherwise underrepresented in advanced level courses, even those who had previously exhibited only average academic performance. It is the school’s intent to ensure that all students graduating from Rainier Beach will take at least one IB class in their junior and senior years, he added

Banda noted that Rainier Beach, with its diverse student body, is an ideal place for the IB program. “IB students learn to think critically, to examine their role in the world around them, and they also learn how to become life-long learners,” he said

Rainier Beach will be the third Seattle School District high school to offer the program. The others are Chief Sealth International High School and Ingraham High School

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the hard work of applying and preparing for this program to launch, and particularly the members of the RHBS Design Team, which included Seattle School District and community leadership along with RBHS staff, teachers, parents, and students.