Class Notes: School district looking to unveil new high school diploma option

JOE LANDON

Up until now, high school students in our district wanting to be challenged, and those who really enjoy getting involved with their studies, would seek an Advanced Placement Laureate Program diploma.

The Laureate Program was created in the late 1990’s for self-motivated students. It’s based on Advanced Placement or AP courses. The program prepares students for college, and it does that well.

Now, there’s a new diploma on the horizon: the AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) diploma. The AICE program is overseen by the prestigious University of Cambridge. If Cambridge gives the go ahead, we’ll begin a four-school pilot which means that students at Barron Collier, Golden Gate, Lely and Naples will be able to pursue an AICE high school diploma.

The AICE curriculum is described as academically rigorous, internationally used, and specialized. It includes classes in math, science, languages, arts, and humanities.

According to our superintendent, Dr. Dennis L. Thompson, “One of the things we have been looking for is to get a more prestigious diploma to help replace the Laureate that’s more recognized by universities throughout the country. It’s very rigorous and very similar to IB or ‘International Baccalaureate,’ that is the easiest way to think about it.”

Now for the AICE diploma, you would take AICE courses, some may be Advanced Placement courses, but it would not include dual enrollment; however for students that want to take dual enrollment courses that shouldn’t be a problem according to Thompson.

“Now we’re expanding dual enrollment across the district as we now know that 96 percent of our kids, over the last three years, who have graduated from high school here have gone to in-state Florida colleges or universities,” Thompson said. “There is no doubt that the dual enrollment helps significantly reduce their academic requirements in college. You can knock out college credits while you are in high school. The AICE diploma will not do that for you but, if you are thinking about applying in-state or especially out-of-state or to Ivy League schools, this is something you may want to look at pursuing.”

Thompson’s comments are from the high school edition of the Education Exchange TV program. Parents and grandparents of high school students will probably want to watch the show, on at 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday nights on the Education Channel, Comcast cable 99, and online at www.collierschools.com. Topics include the number of credits needed to graduate, end-of-course exams, the safety of our students, the attendance policy, the uniform dress code, the use of technology, and there was a healthy dialogue regarding the amount of testing being done.

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