IB Program

Eagle Hill is an authorized IB World School offering the IB Diploma Programme. IB World schools are schools that share a common philosophy—a commitment to high quality, challenging and inquiry-based international education. The program requires of students a serious commitment of time and effort as well as prerequisite coursework in some areas. 

While all Eagle Hill students will continue to have the opportunity to develop their own unique courses of study in the Eagle Hill tradition, with its dedication to flexibility and commitment to offering a myriad of challenging and fascinating courses, we expect that many students will benefit from IB offerings by taking an IB course or two to pursue a particular interest in a way that is specially recognized by colleges and universities or by pursuing the full IB Diploma Programme.

Eagle Hill will begin offering the IB Diploma Programme to qualifying members of the junior class in the fall of 2017. Interested students will be able to apply to the Diploma Programme or to take individual IB courses through their advisors during course planning in the spring of their sophomore years. 

What is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme?

The IB Diploma Programme is a challenging and comprehensive two-year course of study for high school juniors and seniors. It entails taking six courses over two years in the traditional subject areas, as well as IB's unique Theory of Knowledge class, part of the program “core,” in which students are challenged to think critically about areas of knowledge and ways of knowing. As another facet of the core of the program, Diploma candidates must develop an extended essay, a sort of mini-dissertation, on a topic from one of the subject areas studied. Candidates must further challenge themselves to grow personally, physically, and intellectually by applying their knowledge and developing their character in real-life, hands-on situations through participation in the CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) component. The programme has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.
What the IB Programme is NOT.

The IB Programme it is not a collection of courses designed around passing standardized multiple choice tests. It emphasizes depth of knowledge and understanding, mastery of material, and the careful cultivation of the skills required for complex communication and not rote memorization of a vast array of encyclopedic knowledge. In this light there are certainly those who would say that IB’s offerings compare very favorably with others such as Advanced Placement courses. And this leads us to our next point, namely that we are eminently confident that our students, with their non-traditional learning profiles, with their particular and highly individual intellectual and academic strengths, will flourish within the context of IB’s inquiry-driven, project-based, formatively assessed approaches to teaching and learning.

Who will do it, and when?

Eagle Hill will begin offering the IB Diploma Programme to juniors in the fall of 2017. The IB Diploma Programme is an excellent option for students who have, by the end of their sophomore year, developed a certain level of independence and intrinsic motivation. Students who are inquisitive, who are seeking a challenge, and who hope to optimize the attractiveness of their college applications will be strong candidates for the full IB Diploma Programme. There will be an application process through the student’s advisor in consultation with teachers who have worked closely with each student.
 Many other Eagle Hill students and the Eagle Hill community more generally stand to benefit, as well. Students who have passion and aptitude in a particular subject area may wish to take an IB course or two in their areas of interest without necessarily enrolling in the full Diploma Programme. In this way we expect that a much larger proportion of our students will directly benefit from IB, possibly even earning college credits for their IB coursework (depending upon the college’s policy). The sound educational philosophy of IB also has ways of permeating and invigorating the culture of an entire school, for example through teacher training and through the conscientious in-house development of targeted school-wide policies on honesty, assessment, language, and inclusiveness. 

Why IB?

The Eagle Hill faculty has already developed an unrivalled educational program with an unprecedented array of options. Our innovative nine-term schedule allows for exceptional flexibility. Dozens of exploratory as well as full- length courses, internships in theater, the arts, and athletics, as well as honors projects in nearly every conceivable field add up to offer Eagle Hill students the richest and fullest of educational experiences. The faculty here justifiably pride themselves upon their innovative, professional, and caring approach to programming and instruction. So what could a prescribed course of study from an educational organization like IB possibly offer? Over the years, many of our students have voiced their concerns about the full recognition of their academic achievements. Doubts born of previous, often unfortunate, school experiences can plague even the most accomplished “LD” student: “Will my grades be thought of the same way as those of a traditional prep school student? Am I really as capable as my teachers say? Will colleges weigh my application the same way as other students’?” An internationally recognized, highly respected program such as IB’s affords students the opportunity to take on the challenge of an externally moderated, high quality educational program. 

IB is a good fit for our students.

The Diploma Programme’s curriculum reflects IB’s emphasis on critical thinking and skill development as opposed to memorizing content. While many of our students have difficulties with short- or long-term memory, or both, they often display strengths in analyzing, thinking creatively, and making connections between ideas. In small classes with attentive teachers, slow processing does not stand in the way of deep understanding or mastery of skills, especially when teachers can give students immediate constructive feedback and tailor lessons to suit individual needs.
IB assessments often take the form of essays, usually in response to questions the student can choose from among many options. The choice of a question allows a student to play to his or her strengths while the essay response provides an opportunity to display knowledge and ideas that never come into play in a fill-in-the-bubble, multiple choice exam. While the AP exams are essentially a summative assessment, simply measuring student performance against set benchmarks, IB assessments are both summative and formative, measuring student progress in a way that can inform teaching strategies and improve instruction. Exam scores are also only a portion of the overall assessment for Diploma Programme courses. Elements of a student’s coursework, the internal assessments, make up the balance. This means that a student’s successful completion of the program does not hinge entirely upon high-stakes exams.
IB courses often involve collaborative group projects. Project-based learning is precisely the educational milieu in which our goal-oriented, hands-on students thrive, while collaboration not only facilitates a rich exchange of ideas and opportunities for students to teach and learn from peers but also affords the opportunity for social growth and the development of pragmatic interpersonal skills. Students who struggle with executive function benefit from practicing the necessary planning out of long-term, multistep projects within a safe, structured, and supervised environment.
IB fosters and appreciates creativity, decidedly an area of strength for many of our students. Creative thinking is encouraged and rewarded in all IB courses and particularly in the Visual Arts course that Eagle Hill will be offering. In this class, students compile a portfolio of their artwork, the portfolio itself becoming the assessment piece.
The interdisciplinary nature of the IB program, along with its insistence on concurrency of learning, leads to deeper understanding and facilitates the fluid interconnection of ideas. The Theory of Knowledge class is taken over two years concurrently with the six subject area courses. Concepts garnered in the various subject courses are examined in the light of principles from other disciplines. Ideas are tested and the very footholds of knowledge are closely examined. Our students will benefit tremendously from explicitly practicing this kind of interdisciplinary examination, learning to see how parts fit into the whole and how concepts can be applied across disciplines. 
IB’s approaches to teaching and approaches to learning are simply based on good, solid educational principles that explicitly call for differentiated instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. As we well know, the success of any educational endeavor does not lie exclusively in the set of cognitive aptitudes of the learner but hinges on the complex and adaptive interplay between learners and teachers. With this principle in mind, we are prepared to show that the meeting of world-class standards is well within reach of many diverse learners. 
P.O. Box 116
242 Old Petersham Road
Hardwick, MA 01037
Phone: 413.477.6000
Fax: 413.477.6837

Eagle Hill School

An innovative approach to LD education in a classic New England boarding school environment, where diverse learners achieve success.