Ranch View, ThunderRidge earn IB status

Addition of mid-level program dovetails with high school instruction


Two more Douglas County schools have gained International Baccalaureate World School status. Ranch View Middle School and ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch got word in late January that their application for inclusion in IB’s Middle Years Programme was approved.

The program applies to students ages 11 to 16, and dovetails with ThunderRidge’s IB Diploma Programme. Diploma, the highest level of IB, is designed for students 16 to 19 and became part of the high school’s curriculum in 2008.

Admission into the elite group of IB-designated schools requires an arduous, three-year process. IB is a three-tier, internationally accepted program that teaches students to take a broad, multi-cultural view of the world.

“It’s teaching a rigorous academic curriculum through a global lens,” Ranch View Principal James McMurphy said. “It’s to make sure they’re the most prepared we can make them to be future citizens in a truly global marketplace.

“Our seventh- and eighth-graders are not going to be competing for jobs with Detroit or San Francisco or Dallas. They’re going to be competing with Beijing, Cairo and Manila.”

Castle Rock’s Mesa Middle School and Douglas County High School earned the authorization in the summer of 2012.

Though Mesa and Ranch View middle schools started the IB approval process at the same time, RanchView wanted to customize the program in two areas, which required further review and the resulting delay.

RanchView’s requests included a shift away from the IB requirement of a class focused specifically on technology.

“To be honest, what we’re after is integrated technology in our classes,” McMurphy said. “We put together a proposal where we wouldn’t have a technology class per se, but all those skills are embedded in our core classes.”

Ranch View then had to wait to get IB’s stamp of approval.

Ranch View also gained approval on changes to the IB foreign language requirements, allowing students to take a semester of introductory foreign language instead of a full year.

“It took a lot of work and a lot of planning to get there,” McMurphy said. “I’m really glad IB took the time. It would have been really easy for them to say, ‘This doesn’t fit our mold.’ But they gave us our due. If we had to change everything about who we are, I wasn’t sure that was going to be worth it.”

Ranch View students now get a program tailor-made for them, he believes.

The IB program “is going to look a little different here than it does at Mesa and schools up in Aurora and Denver, but wherever you are you can walk away with a guarantee and an expectation of excellence,” McMurphy said.

ThunderRidge Assistant Principal David Shadwell echoed that sentiment.

“The IB piece definitely is a feather in one’s cap,” he said. “We’re incredibly excited to have the authorization and continue working with RanchView.”


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