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The International Baccalaureate program at Hilton Head Island Middle School has received its seal of approval, which school officials hope will bolster enrollment in a high school program put on probation last year.
The middle-years program, which includes grades six through 10, is now authorized by the International Baccalaureate organization. Its approval means all students in the Hilton Head cluster will take the IB curriculum from first through 10th grades.
Afterward, students can enroll in the IB diploma program at Hilton Head Island High School, which offers the chance to earn college credit.
The IB program requires middle-schoolers to take courses in English, a foreign language, social studies, science, math, art and technology each year. It also requires students to participate in community service, Hilton Head Middle principal Jim Shirley said.
"It's an opportunity for our kids to be looking at the whole world," Shirley said. "... It's trying to help students learn through a global perspective."
However, the program at Hilton Head High was put on two-year probation last year. Programs at Battery Creek High, Robert Smalls Middle and Broad River Elementary schools have been discontinued.
A consultants' report found the IB diploma programs cost the district an additional $663 per participant in 2010, including dues to the organization, books, supplies and travel for teacher training.
Only 10 of the district's 172 participants earned the IB diploma in 2010.
Hilton Head High was told to boost enrollment and the number of students earning the IB diploma.
Enrollment is already up: 166 students are in the program this year, compared to 100 last year, according to a school district news release.
Principal Amanda O'Nan said an authorized middle-years program could help the school meet its goals.
"The stronger your feeder program is, the more you're building that foundation," she said. "It will snowball into a larger diploma program."
The application process for the middle-years program, which includes adopting the curriculum and a site visit by IB officials, began four years ago.
The school district is one of four in the state that offers the IB curriculum from first through 12th grades, according to a district news release. The others are Charleston, Greenville and Rock Hill District 3.
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.