O'Connell school seeks IB accreditation

By Evan Pajer - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Jan. 11, 2013
O'Connell Elementary School will apply for full accreditation by the IB program in the fall, with accreditation potentially coming as early as January 2013. Photo by Evan Pajer.
O'Connell Elementary School will apply for full accreditation by the IB program in the fall, with accreditation potentially coming as early as January 2013. Photo by Evan Pajer.

On Jan. 7, representatives from O'Connell Elementary School met with the Board of Education to update the community on the school's progress toward accreditation with the International Baccalaureate program. If it is accepted, O'Connell would join the Connecticut IB Academy as the town's second IB school.

O'Connell applied to become an IB school in August 2012 and was granted candidate status for the current school year, when it re-trained staff and wrote a new curriculum to fit strict standards set by the IB program, which includes a stipulation that all students must be trained in a second language starting at age 7.

At the board meeting, O'Connell Principal Greg Fox said the students had adapted to the new standards and the school was making progress toward accreditation. Under the rules of the IB program, candidate schools must undergo a trial run of the program for at least one school year before a decision is made on whether or not to accredit the school.

"There's a process you have to go through with IB," said Assistant Principal Daniel Catlin. "We're working with a consultant, and IB will do a site visit, which will hopefully get us accredited to become a full-fledged IB school." Catlin said that the school will likely apply for accreditation in the fall, with the site visit happening early next year, possibly in January. Catlin said that very little would change between now and when the school gets accredited, but said that suggestions may come up during the site inspection for changes. "In order to get accredited, there are suggestions or changes you need to make, but hopefully we'll get accredited from there," Catlin said. "We'll be better at the implementation of the IB philosophy. It's like a journey - you get better as you go, and that's what we're working towards."

O'Connell will undergo another major change in the fall, when it will add 300 hours to its school year as part of a national program known as the TIME initiative. The school was among several in the state to be chosen for participation in the initiative, which seeks to improve student performance by offering additional instructional time and re-instating enrichment programs, such as art and music, into the curriculum. The school is expected to release a plan detailing how the extra hours will be added before the next school year begins. Catlin said he did not know whether the school's participation in the TIME initiative would influence the decision by the International Baccalaureate program as to whether or not the school will be accredited.


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