Grant Creates Programs for Chicago IB Students

A grant from the McGowan Charitable Fund enabled EMM’s Center for Access and Attainment to reach more than 1,500 International Baccalaureate (IB) students, teachers and administrators within Chicago Public Schools (CPS), building on DePaul’s more than decade-long partnership with the IB organization and Chicago schools.

The IB is a challenging curriculum designed to prepare students for admission to selective universities worldwide. DePaul attracts a large proportion of high-ability IB students from CPS, most of whom are from low-income and first-generation college families, and come from Chicago’s neighborhood high schools—yet have higher retention and graduation rates than other CPS graduates and DePaul freshmen as a whole.

Expanding Pre-college Enrichment Experiences for IB Students at DePaul
The grant was designed to help strengthen the relationship between DePaul and the IB programs in CPS, focusing on three objectives. The first was to improve awareness of the IB Diploma high school program at CPS elementary schools offering the Middle Years IB program. This allowed the center to extend the IB partnership back to elementary schools and strengthen the pathway to DePaul. More than 700 students from targeted elementary schools offering the IB Middle Years program visited campus for high school and college planning activities, including panel discussions involving former IB students now enrolled at DePaul.
Another objective was to expand annual summer programming for IB students on campus. Capacity for IB students was expanded by about a third, including 50 additional places at the IB Summer College Academy, an annual three-day summer program sponsored by CPS to prepare IB students for the selective college admission process.
IB Students Excel in Mathematics at DePaul
Finally, the grant funded a research study by the DePaul STEM Center on the college mathematics performance of 50 former CPS IB students now at DePaul. This grew out of a University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) study identifying difficulties some IB students were having in first-year college mathematics at their universities.
The STEM Center’s research revealed that IB students are performing well in mathematics at DePaul and that IB students were being placed in the appropriate courses and received adequate advising, which is not always the case at larger universities as the CCSR study suggested. The DePaul research affirms that the IB mathematics curriculum tends to help students “think mathematically,” perhaps accounting for strong performance in subsequent mathematics courses. The results were shared with IB teachers and coordinators in a workshop hosted on campus and will be shared with CPS and IB administrators for consideration.
Additional programming may be conducted during the fall while conversations continue with IB coordinators and teachers on building awareness of the IB at the elementary level and strengthening the alignment of mathematics courses from the Middle Years through the Diploma in targeted schools.
DePaul a Destination of Choice for CPS IB Graduates
More than 70 percent of all IB graduates in CPS applied to DePaul for fall 2014. About 50 IB students enrolled as freshmen, meaning that about one in 10 of all 2014 IB graduates from CPS enrolled at DePaul. As a private, selective university with a mission-based commitment to both academic quality and student access, the IB initiative fits very well with DePaul’s enrollment priorities in Chicago.
For more information, contact Brian Spittle, assistant vice president for the Center for Access and Attainment.