This is a longer entry specifically designed for those people who are considering the Mira Loma IB program but who are not quite sure. I'm including the most common questions I get asked, along with my answers.
How much homework will my student have in this program?
This is always the first question students and parents ask about IB at Mira Loma. The answer, unfortunately, is it depends. If your student is doing the most rigorous program within IB at Mira Loma then he or she can expect a fairly heavy homework load each and every year. Sixty to ninety minutes a night is not uncommon for students who choose to accelerate in both math and science in the freshman year. IB students who are not so accelerated generally face a lighter homework load, but it can still be sixty to ninety minutes a night during the most intense times. Students who learn early on to manage their time can usually even out the homework by starting long term projects on the day they're assigned.
What are the entrance criteria?
For incoming 9th graders we look for two things: high grades in advanced middle school programs and scores in the 85th percentile or higher on nationally normed tests. For older students we still look at grades and test scores, but we also accept any student who has begun an IB program in some other school but moves to this area. These criteria are spelled out in more detail in the IB Handbook, published by our IB parent's association.
Will my student be so busy that he or she won't have a social life?
IB students do, contrary to popular opinion, have pretty active social lives. The difference is that most of their social time is spent on class projects and study groups. As our IB students get into the junior and senior year, they select how involved they wish to be in IB. Diploma students are the most involved, and their social lives seem most directly tied to school. ML Associate students are taking two fewer exams than the diploma kids, and so they have more time for sports and traditional high school activities. Certificate students are taking fewer than four exams and they seem to be the most social of all.
Is my student at a big disadvantage if he or she didn't go to the Churchill IBMY program?
In a word, no. Churchill's IBMY program is excellent, but we have students from several different school districts coming to Mira Loma. Those non-Churchill students take the same classes, learn the same things, get the same grades and can go on to complete the IB Diploma. IB is designed for students who are willing to work hard and who love to learn, regardless where they come from.
Will the IB program help my student get into an Ivy League college?
The truthful answer here is probably not. Every year we have students who get accepted to the Ivy Leagues, and these students have very high grades and outstanding test scores. They do extra community service and write engaging, wonderful essays. In short, they are outstanding students before they come to Mira Loma. What IB does for them is prepare them well for whatever college they attend. I've written a longer post on this subject which you can read here.
How expensive is the program?
Over the years IB has increased its fees for all testing students. In rough numbers the full IB diploma generates about $800 in testing fees over two years. We do have financial assistance available for Mira Loma students who qualify.
What role do parents play in the IB program at Mira Loma?
IB Parents are critical to the success of our program. The IB Parents Organization raises funds for the program, provides volunteers for all sorts of tasks that must take place, provides support for teachers and students and works hard to ensure that the benefits of IB are available to all qualified students at Mira Loma.
How large are IB classes?
Mira Loma is a public school, and is therefore under the same rules as any other public school for staffing ratios. This means that IB classes are the same size as other classes in our school - 30 plus students, often 35 or 36.
Is there any special screening for teachers of IB classes?
IB teachers all go to special training sessions every four or five years. These trainings focus on the philosophy of IB and also on the day to day details of running an IB program.
Should my student plan on taking summer school if he or she wants to do IB?
Students who plan to do the full IB diploma almost always need to take summer school. This is because the requirements for San Juan Unified and the requirements for the IB program do not overlap; extra classes are required to complete both sets of requirements in only four years. The most popular summer school class is PE, taken between the 8th and 9th grades.