IB Diplomas on the Rise in Utah

Many students, including Hillcrest High graduate Mindee Sharp, 18, are receiving International Baccalaureate (IB) diplomas. Sharp found that by taking credit through the International Baccalaureate courses, she already had the critical thinking and study skills she needed for when she started college in the fall, writes Rosemary Winters at the Salt Lake Tribune.

"It helped prepare me to do the big assignments that teachers give in college," said Sharp, a BYU freshman.

"I just take them all with a smile and say, ‘I've already done that.' "

Sharp was one of 28 students awarded an IB diploma after graduating from Hillcrest last spring.

Utah has a long history of IB programs, with Salt Lake City's West High launching the state's first IB program in 1984. The course has now grown to include six more high schools, one elementary charter and one middle school.

More than 120 students in Utah earned IB diplomas last year, with many more taking IB classes for college credits.

Shannon Wilson is head of one of the largest IB programs in the world, coordinating the West High program.

"I'm just excited that so many more kids have access to it."

Last year saw West High break the 200 barrier, with 55 students earning diplomas and 210 students taking year-end exams.

Only 70 of the 2,300 schools worldwide that offer the IB diploma have more than 200 students taking tests in a given year, said Wilson.

Highland, another Salt Lake City school, was approved to offer IB in 2009, will offer its first IB diplomas to 2012 graduates.

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