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Advanced study program takes hold in Ken-Ton, Grand Island schools

Two area school districts graduated their first students enrolled in a two-year advanced study program that gives them an edge in college admissions, and administrators say the results are encouraging.

At Kenmore West High School, 46 of 53 seniors who participated in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme completed it, and 39 accumulated enough points from May exams and coursework to receive the prestigious diploma, according to Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District numbers. The school had 335 seniors total.

Ken-Ton’s diploma pass rate of 85 percent is above the global rate of 78.5 percent, national rate of 70 percent and state rate of 65 percent, said program coordinator Vanessa Scinta.

“You hear about how students in other countries are supposedly so much better prepared and do so much better in math and science,” she said. “Here we were competing on an international level and beating the average. So I was pleased.”

There are 800 IB diploma programs in the United States, including 52 in New York.

City Honors, Grand Island, Kenmore East and Kenmore West are the only schools in Erie County that offer it.

Grand Island also had its first IB cohort graduate but takes a more flexible approach to the program, said high school assistant principal Andres Arroyo. “We have students that opt just to take individual courses for enrichment and not necessarily the whole program in concert,” he said.

Kenmore East, meanwhile, began its IB program in September and will graduate its first cohort next year. City Honors has the area’s most established IB program with 72 percent succeeding in getting the diploma in 2011.

Ken-Ton reported that its 53 IB students will attend 23 different colleges in the fall, including Brown, Cornell, American and Northwestern universities. They were offered scholarships and grants totaling more than $5.3 million.