Dunbar Elementary School is conducting a feasibility study about becoming an International Baccalaureate elementary school. International Baccalaureate (IB) is a course of study that involves inquiry based education and thematic approaches to learning. Dunbar staff and district representatives say they are researching the option.

According to the International Baccalaureate web site, across the 40 districts in Sonoma County, there are only two public IB schools: Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa and Parkside Elementary in Sebastopol.

There are currently 4,583 IB schools worldwide; in the U.S, there are 521 elementary schools, 631 middle schools and 894 high schools using the unique and highly structured IB curriculum.

International Baccalaureate is a nonprofit foundation that offers four programs of international education that, according to the foundation, aim to develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Schools must be authorized by the IB organization to offer the program.

IB schools promote high standards of teaching and a rigorous learning environment.

“Our staff is investigating International Baccalaureate as an innovative, rigorous instructional option for students at Dunbar,” said principal Melanie Blake. “We are excited about qualities and approaches in IB, including inquiry based instruction, and a global, multiculural worldview. We hope to complete our feasibility study this spring.”

Sonoma Valley Unified School District Superintendent Louann Carlomagno said Dunbar is assessing whether IB would be a “good fit for the school, staff and students.”

“It’s an exciting possibility but not an undertaking that would be entered into lightly,” said Carlomagno. She added that it would take several years of planning and training for such a change to occur.

IB has been discussed at meetings of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, Site Council and English Learner Advisory Committee. Further meetings on the topic are planned for spring. Learn more at ibo.org.