It’s almost been a year since Woodstock began the transition of its educational program from Advanced Placement (AP) to the well known, Middle Years Program (MYP) and IB Diploma Program (IBDP), something that felt a little bizarre to many students. This was because it was not the entire school which was shifting to IB.
The classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020 will be continuing with the AP Program, whereas, classes starting with the Class of 2021 began the transition to the MYP program.
Did the Woodstock Board make the right decision? Did it have a right to do this? Is the school retaining its standards of education? How is the school intending on carrying out both AP and MYP programs? These are some questions which have begun to rise in students’ minds.
Mr. Ethan VanDrunen, the vice principal, said that the switch was not made because of any sort of “dissatisfaction,” further explaining that the “last year’s AP results were the highest in the history of Woodstock.”
According to him, “special concentrated attention” is being given to all the AP batches because “Woodstock cares!” Therefore, he said, “So do the teachers!” According to him, the students taking AP are not being disregarded.
In order to sustain the high standards of education at Woodstock, the human resources department is recruiting “more inspirational teachers and teachers with a high level of experience,” he added.
Despite the assurances, the switch led to numerous doubts and disputes amongst students.
Gauri Pasbola, Class of 2021, said that one of the several reasons why students joined Woodstock is because it was an AP school and had “planned their whole education according to that.”
Therefore, she said she is affected by the change of the education system. The adaptation is a mystery to her as the “IB coordinators are not communicating” and “are extremely defensive about this (Woodstock) board.” The heads are not providing students with concrete facts and are ambiguous about what is going on, she said.
On the other hand, Jigmet Angmo, another student of Class of 2021, had a clearer perspective on what the school is doing. Angmo said, “Class is being tested on whether the IB will work for Woodstock or not.”
The education bit of the situation, according to Angmo, however, is a positive change. The teaching process and style affects her critical thinking which helps her “think beyond the textbooks and also shapes us into all-rounded students,” she said.
Pasbola said that the decision made by the school is “disastrous” and hasty, “the teachers aren’t on the same page and maybe it was too sudden of a switch for them, too.”
Pasbola would prefer to be an “AP Program Graduate” and said that it would have been better if the school had taken such a big step just with the younger grades, implying towards batches below the Class of 2021. Moreover, the teachers and the students would have been “in a much better position,” said Pasbola.
Senior year is crucial for everybody; and as the school is transitioning into IB, it can be assumed that it would have to change its teachers as well.
“They (the teachers) seem to approach grading differently than the AP board does,” said Ishan Pilant, Class of 2018. Some teachers even use the IB rubric to grade students.
According to Pilant, there were “countless number of disagreements” between the students and the staff but “they have definitely got better.” Arguments occurred once the new teachers came in between the school year because they had a different style of teaching.
Udit Garg, Class of 2018, said, “The changes made in the school did not affect me a lot as I anyways took tuitions for all my AP classes during the break. I had to do so, in order to score well.”
However, the seniors are not the only batch impacted by the shift. According to Kritin Garg, Class of 2019, the juniors (Class of 2019) and the sophomores (Class of 2018) are suffering as well. But again, there are students exempted from this agony.
He said, “I understand why the [sophomores] and [the juniors] … feel that they are being neglected [as] the school is focusing more on [freshmen].” He said his education is not impacted because of the new teachers, because of “the nature of the subjects” he had chosen.
When inquired about this issue faced by students, Mr. Vandrunen said, “The recruitment criteria has changed … there is no such thing as an IB teacher.”
Therefore, now the focus has shifted to “recruit[ing] the best teachers possible” regardless of their expertise in AP or IB “who are able to bring Woodstock significant teaching experience, strong expertise in their subject areas, and a passion for Woodstock’s unique vision of education,” said Mr. Vandrunen.