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Fallbrook High School becomes an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School 

Instead of a packed school board meeting in the library, Fallbrook Union High School District residents got the news at home in a Zoom call. What should have been a group celebration with streamers and cake became an announcement on the computer. But that did not diminish the magnitude of the news. After a three year journey, Fallbrook High School was approved by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) to be officially named as an IB World School. 

Fallbrook High School was previously approved as a Candidate School for the traditional IB Diploma Programme in June 2018 and later for the IB Career-related Programme in December 2018. In March 2019, the school board unanimously voted for Fallbrook to keep working on these goals. Fallbrook Union High School District Board Member Sharon Koehler said, “After several years of work and with a new supportive Superintendent, the board was to vote whether to approve IB. At that meeting I spoke of innovation and rigor being important to our parents and students. I said, ‘We can be an average school or we can step into an elite group.’”

Fallbrook’s accomplishment indeed puts it in an elite standing. Fallbrook is one of eight schools in all of California to offer IB’s Diploma Programme, Career-related Programme, and Bilingual Diploma. Fallbrook’s IB Coordinator George Herring said, “We weren’t really trying to outbuild other schools.  We were reacting to our situation at Fallbrook, which is amazing.  We could not build what we built if we did not already have a nationally competitive Career Technical Education program seeded with award winning teachers, an ROTC program that is the envy of other schools, an amazing group of students coming through our system as part of the Dual Immersion program for bilingual education, and what I think is the best English Language Development department in the state. The fact that we now have this honor is just a byproduct of how we built the IB programme to fit the character of her school.” 

The IB Programmes ensure that students are well-rounded and prepared for higher education and the world of work. IB graduates are typically described as being  academically prepared for college.  Research shows that IB graduates often outperform  their non-IB peers in college.  But Fallbrook is mindful of more than just the top tier of their school. Fallbrook High School Principal Dr. Narciso Iglesias said, “We know we have students who can handle a rigorous course but for whatever reason are opting not to.  Even if a student takes one IB class, studies show they are  80% more likely to continue from high school to college or university or professional work. That’s a powerful motivator to get as many kids as we can into at least one IB course.  It can be life changing.”  

IB classes begin in 11th grade. As part of that call to action to include more kids in a program like IB, last year Fallbrook created The Global Village, whose purpose is to bring together students with potential in 9th and 10th grade who fall outside of the traditional system of a full slate of honors classes.  Teachers in the Global Village use IB philosophies on service learning, character education, and international mindedness to mentor and encourage students into at least one highly rigorous course in 11th and 12th grade.  Brooklin Brumund, a Global Village English teacher, said, “As an educator you see there are no boundaries to a student’s potential when they take advantage of opportunity.  I learn that from these students as I watch them grow and express themselves.”  

The IB Verification Team that assessed Fallbrook made particular note of the Global Village.  Fallbrook Union High School District’s Superintendent Ilsa Garza-Gonzalez said in her Zoom announcement, “With the Global Village, a program Fallbrook created as part of its work in launching IB and which will have 300 students engaged in it next fall, the team that assessed our readiness to become an IB World School noted that we were already a leader in providing equity and access to students who may otherwise be overlooked at another school and that we should be presenting our good work on an international stage to inspire others.” 

Fallbrook Union High School Board President Diane Summers added, “The International Baccalaureate Program has in its essence so much grace. When researching it before the board approval, I found that students from Dubai to Singapore were participating in this exciting type of international learning. While being very academically challenging, it offers students a wider, global perspective of numerous issues from farming, environmental protections and business opportunities of the future. Even calling our pre-IB program ‘A Global Village’ says it all.”

Fallbrook’s IB Programme will be open access to all students whether they come to it through traditional honors classes, the Global Village, or somewhere else.  Joseph Tygart, a rising 10th grade honors student at Fallbrook who will be one of the first at the school to pursue the IB Diploma Programme there, said, “I want IB because I want my schooling to be more hands on and involved in the learning, not just sitting behind a desk.  I want to become a better and more in depth thinker.”

The IB Career-related Programme allows Fallbrook to partner IB with their Career Technical Education pathways.  Fallbrook will be offering IB Career-related Certificates in Cybersecurity, Medical Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing, Transportation Technology, and Leadership Management.  For Herring, the IB Career-related Programme points to an important reality, “The working world needs industry professionals who know their craft, but who can also speak intelligently, write correctly, and think critically.”  Because of this philosophy, Fallbrook plans to use a student’s passion for a career pathway as a motivator to move them into rigorous core coursework with IB.

Though officially an IB school, most students have already selected their courses for the 2020 -2021 school year.  Therefore, Fallbrook is scheduled to begin IB classes in August of 2021.

About the International Baccalaureate:

In 2018, the International Baccalaureate (IB) celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Pioneering a movement of international education in 1968, the non-profit foundation now offers high quality and challenging educational programmes to students aged 3-19 years old. Through a unique curriculum with high academic standards, we champion critical thinking and flexibility for learning by crossing disciplinary, cultural and national boundaries. Currently, more than 1,4 million IB students attend 4,896 schools in 153 countries. To learn more, please visit

For information about the number of IB World Schools and programmes offered in United States, please visit:

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