Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School is
one of two schools in the United States to offer the
Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme, Diploma Programme & Career-related Programme.
This year marks the start of Lehigh Valley Academy’s (LVA) seventeenth year of operation. For the last sixteen years, LVA has prided itself on many things, one of them being the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. In 2006, LVA was authorized to offer the Primary Years Programme (PYP), followed by the Diploma Programme (DP) in 2007, and the Middle Years Programme (MYP) in 2009. LVA is thrilled to now be able to add the Career-related Programme (CP) to that list of authorizations, making it one of two schools in the United States to offer all four programmes and one of twenty-three in the world to offer all four programmes.
The CP is IB’s fourth program and stemmed from a need to balance career-readiness with challenging academics. While many career-readiness programs don’t offer students access to academic rigor, the CP has this tenant as its cornerstone. Like the DP, students in the CP will take academically challenging courses; however, they will have the opportunity to select a career pathway.
CP students will have a core just like DP students have a core. The CP core, however, looks a little different:
- Personal and Professional Skills (PPS): This class will show students how to succeed in today’s world in the classroom and beyond. They will focus on effective communication skills, resume writing, interview skills, and how to effectively collaborate in the workplace.
- Service Learning: Like the DP, students in CP will complete a service learning component. Students will interact with their community; students will serve an authentic need while learning new skills. Students will work with the PPS class and teacher to develop a service learning project that relates to the chosen career pathway.
- Reflective Project (RP): Similar to the Extended Essay in the DP, students will write an extended piece of academic writing that will focus on research and developing an argument. The RP will focus on an ethical dilemma in the student’s pathway.
- Language Development: Instead of taking a DP language class, students in the CP will be allowed to study a language of their choice using Duolingo. This course will culminate in a language portfolio to demonstrate their learning.
In the spring of 2017, Mrs. Mauser and I attended a training on CP to find out if it would be a good fit for LVA. After that training, we knew CP was the perfect fit for LVA. We are proud that we can offer DP to all of our students, a programme that oftentimes is highly selective. The IB is working hard to change this perception, and schools like LVA are at the forefront of that change. While we firmly stand behind our IB-for-All mission and believe that all students benefit from a DP education, we realize that DP isn’t always the best fit for everyone. This is where CP fits in. It allows students to take a few DP courses and focus on a career pathway to prepare them for college or the workforce.
On April 11, 2018, a team from IB visited LVA to talk to our staff, students, and parents, and assess our readiness to offer CP. As a result of the visit, the team had many commendations for LVA. In particular, the team applauded LVA for:
- “its desire to ensure that more students are part of a full IB programme.”
- “creatively incorporating the IB learner profile into the ethos of the school community. It permeates the school culture.”
- developing “a comprehensive program for English Language Learners that includes extensive classroom support for teachers and students.”
- developing “the context to implement an inclusive CP with policies and practices that effectively support special educational needs.”
Like the IB, LVA is a dynamic institution. We are definitely proud of our Diploma Programme, but we recognize the need to grow with and for our students and for the local and global communities of which they will be a part.
To begin our CP journey, LVA has decided to offer two career pathways from Project Lead the Way: Biomedical and Engineering. These are the most popular careers our students choose to study in college. They are also pathways that can prepare students for careers, two-year degrees, and four-year degrees. The Biomedical pathway, for instance, can prepare students for two-year medical related career programs, technical medical programs, and pre-professional programs. While we are starting with these two pathways, we do want to add more. The hope is to add a business/management pathway. After this, the sky truly is the limit; the CP is an extremely flexible program that we hope will meet the needs of students at LVA.
Our first CP cohort will consist of about 40 students, which is approximately 40% of the 2018-2019 sophomore class.
For more information on the Career-related Programme, please visit the Career-related Programme page on LVA’s website: Career-related Programme Page.
Mr. Andrew Hall
DP/CP Coordinator, Project Lead the Way Coordinator