The number of English Language Learners in the United States grows each and every day as there are new immigrants entering the country. The number of public schools that are involved in the ELL programs has increased, especially from 2002-2003 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. In 2002-2003 school year there was 4,118, 918 public schools involved in the English Language Learner programs and in 2012-2013 there was an increase to 4,397,318.
One nonprofit organization helping those schools is the Internationals Network for Public Schools. The network was founded in 1985 and provides a first class education for those ELL students. There are now 19 public high schools and academies in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington D.C. region, according to nytimes.com. In New York there is a 64 percent average rate for students graduating in four years, but for the ELL students graduating in four years is at a far low, 34 percent. There could be many reasons for ELL students falling behind in the classroom, however there, one city is succeeded in preparing ELL students for graduation.
Erie public and private schools have a graduation rate of 76 percent for ELL students. This rate is greater than other major cities in Pennsylvania. Erie has many more resources than other cities including Pennsylvania International Academy (PIA). PIA provides flexible services for international students from all over the world. One of those PIA is Mercyhurst Preparatory School.
Mercyhurst Preparatory School is a school that provides special education programs that helps those ELL students gain experience and graduate on time. According to piacademy.org, Mercyhurst Preparatory is a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence founded in 1926. In addition, the school is the only private school in Northwest Pennsylvania offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) program with over 30 years of IB experience
There is some history to Mercyhurst Preparatory before it came the school it is today. Mercyhurst Seminary was brought to the United States in 1842 at the request of Bishop Michael O’Connor of Pittsburgh. Then more Seminary schools expanded to other locations across the state of Pennsylvania. Mercyhurst Seminary was founded in 1921 by M. Borgia Egan, the Superior of the Sisters of Mercy in Titusville. The Seminary is an educational institution for college, high school, and grade school women in 1926. Since the Mercyhurst Seminary and Mercyhurst College was sharing the same facilities which caused issues. The Sister decided they wanted to build a separate building so in 1963 there was another building built. That new building was called Mercyhurst Preparatory. The Preparatory started out as an all-girls school, however, that changed in 1974 when the school was turned into co-ed.
Mercyhurst Preparatory is not just any regular school, especially because they help students of all native languages with the special program called International Baccalaureate. The IB program is based on the concept that secondary education should promote the development of the long life skills of critical thinking, communication and integration of the information through an in-depth study of the major areas of knowledge. The program also encourages an understanding of other cultures, languages and point of view.
“We send students into the world with knowledge, confidence, the ability to think, analyze, and most all to succeed and to productive citizens in a global community,” said Kathryn Donovan, International Baccalaureate Program Coordinator.
The International Baccalaureate Program began in 1965 in Europe. The vision of the diplomats who wanted an equitable education for all students and they established this program. Before the program took place it was discover that from country to country the children were experiencing gaps in their educational experiences. That is when it became very popular in Europe.
According to Donovan, the program is offered to any juniors or senior at high school who are honor students in any subject who wish to take apart of an IB class or classes. Once the students have decided on the class or classes they are interesting in taking, there are two more options for the student when it comes to graduation: a student can be a certificate student and be in a class or classes in which they are interested or as student can be in 6 IB classes and decide to be an IB diploma candidate.
“My vision for the IB and MPS is that eventually all MPS students would be enrolled in at least one IB class and that more universities would become better informed about the IB programs,” said Donovan.