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Numbers In Rainier Beach's International Baccalaureate Programs Continue To Grow

Kyle Stokes

Participation in the academic program many credit with spurring a turnaround at Seattle's long-troubled Rainier Beach High School continues to increase.

This spring, more students will be taking the year-end exams attached to the rigorous college prep curriculum — the International Baccalaurate, or "I.B." — that Rainier Beach first began offering in 2013. More students are also pursuing the I.B. Diploma, a credential many colleges recognize.

The school's rebound has drawn significant press attention, including from KPLU, which aired a documentary on Rainier Beach late last year. It's a turnaround funded in large part by a $4.3 million federal School Improvement Grant.

At least 116 students at Rainier Beach will take the year-end I.B. exams in March, according to Rainier Beach teacher and I.B. coordinator Colin Pierce. That's up from 91 last year and mirrors the continued increase in enrollment at the school.

Twelve Rainier Beach seniors are taking the heavy courseload necessary to earn an I.B. Diploma. Last year, 7 students finished all of the courses they needed, though the organization that oversees International Baccalaureate did not say their work merited receiving diplomas.

Additionally, 27 juniors are on-track to complete I.B. Diploma coursework.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.