Killeen schools in years to come may be short one route for students to earn college credit.
In Tuesday’s meeting of the Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees, school officials weighed the importance of offering the International Baccalaureate program. The IB program, which allows children to study and test for hourly credit at several secondary education establishments, is a rigorous, multiyear curriculum that includes college-level coursework and hours of community service, according to school officials.
Superintendent John Craft urged board members to consider at just what cost the IB program maintains its worth. In 2018, KISD spent $970,735 on teacher salaries and training, testing and more for the IB program.
“We’re not seeing the numbers we’d like in the program,” Craft told the school board Tuesday.
Since 2001, Killeen High School has been the focus campus for the IB program. Peebles Elementary, Iduma Elementary, Rancier Middle School, and Charles Patterson (formerly Fairway) Middle School, serve as the feeder campuses, which host introductory tiers of the program.
With the addition of unique academic opportunities for students, such as KISD’s Early College High School, enrollment in the IB program has declined in recent years. In August 2015, KISD and Central Texas College partnered to open the Early College High School, which allows students an opportunity to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree, up to 60 college credit hours.
In the middle and high schools, students may enroll in a variety of Advanced Placement (AP) and pre-Advanced Placement (preAP). High school students can earn college credit hours via dual credit and articulated courses offered through partnerships with Central Texas College and the Texas Bioscience Institute or with a successful score on an AP exam, according to KISD.
As many of those programs grow, only an expected 10 IB students will graduate from Killeen High School in 2020, compared to 38 IB graduates in 2015, according to KISD statistics.
“When looking at the cost, staffing, time, effort, and overall student benefit to implement these programs with fidelity, it is difficult to justify maintaining the IB programs in KISD,” said David Manley, assistant superintendent for instructional leadership, in a report provided to the school board.
Regarding the future of the program, board members would ultimately determine the IB program’s fate through staffing allocations.
Several board members Tuesday recalled a time when the IB program attracted more students.
“This was a very popular program at one time,” said Board Member Susan Jones as the update on the program was provided.
Some, however, questioned whether the value of the program holds enough weight for its price.
“I want to know specifically how this program differs from what else the district offers,” said Board Member Marvin Rainwater.
Board action would likely be in the form of approval of staffing allocations, according to Chief Communication Officer Terry Abbott. The board’s vote would actually be on staffing, not the program itself.