Atherton High School

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Students in Atherton High School’s International Baccalaureate program won’t be taking diploma or career-related program exams after the governing agency called off tests Monday as schools across the globe close in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Switzerland-based International Baccalaureate Organization announced Monday that tests in diploma and career-related programs scheduled between April 30 and May 22 were cancelled.

Instead, students in such programs will be eligible for a diploma or course certificate.

“This is based on student’s coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the” programs, the International Baccalaureate Organization wrote in an advisory on its website.

“Our goal continues to be to find ways to support our global community during these uncertain times and provide the best possible outcomes for our students,” the agency said.

Atherton is the only JCPS high school and one of four high schools in the state to offer International Baccalaureate courses.

Theresa Beckley, an assistant principal at Atherton, wrote in a letter to families that more information on the certificates will be available by Friday.

“We will work to get you any and all information in a timely manner as soon as it is received,” she wrote. “The IB Organization knows how hard you have worked in your courses, and that will be recognized.”

Beckley told WDRB News that students in the International Baccalaureate program have already completed and submitted internal assessments, which are essentially "massive research papers" on topics related to the curriculum. Teachers have also submitted predicted grades in the internationally recognized program, she said.

"There's already documentation in the system and assessments given," Beckley said in a phone interview Monday. "... They have other avenues to give the students certificates."

Still, Beckley said she's disappointed for Atherton students who "have worked incredibly hard" in the International Baccalaureate program.

"They've put time, effort, lots of sweat into their schoolwork," she said. 

Atherton will "do whatever it takes to make sure that our students are recognized for their work," she said. 

The International Baccalaureate final is the latest in a series of tests that have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. In Kentucky, public schools have been advised to close until April 20 and prepare enough remote learning material to last through May 1.

"I think students and families were anticipating this," Beckley said of the International Baccalaureate Organization's decision to cancel its final exams.

The Kentucky Department of Education has sought a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to skip standardized testing as schools across Kentucky and elsewhere close to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The College Board will offer online advanced placement tests and cancelled the SAT exam scheduled for May 2, and ACT has pushed back its national April 4 test date to June 13 in response to the pandemic.

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