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Rainier Beach High School’s Record-Setting Participation in IB-for-All, a FEPP Levy-Funded Model for Inclusive High-Quality Student Learning 

A graduating RBHS senior waves to the crowd as the commencement ceremony begins.

New Career Program Launching This Fall 

Rainier Beach High School’s (RBHS) uniquely accessible IB-for-All program served 75 percent of 2022’s graduating class, representing 156 seniors, on their paths to universities and careers in 2021-22. Although International Baccalaureate (IB) is perceived as an exclusive program, RBHS is breaking the mold—students are taking courses in record numbers, representing one of the highest percentages of IB scholars in Washington State. 

Funded partly by the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise (FEPP) Levy, RBHS IB programs challenge students to develop interdisciplinary critical thinking skills through a rigorous college-prep curriculum. Course design builds upon students’ strengths by allowing them to integrate topics of interest into projects and administered tests.  

Every student at Rainier Beach can take IB courses, benefitting from the competitive advantage it provides when applying for college. Students choose the Diploma or Medallion program based on their goals. Diploma program students earn an internationally recognized certificate upon graduation. Some earn college credit and advanced placement based on their test scores and the college they plan to attend. However, the Diploma program, with its six subject areas, Theory of Knowledge class, an independent research paper, and service learning, can be a heavy lift for students with other commitments whether it’s athletics, jobs, or caring for loved ones. To make IB more accessible, RBHS teachers created the Medallion program—rigorous yet less demanding, requiring fewer courses, less class time, resulting in compelling applications for students without the IB diploma.  

City Funding Expands Access to Educational Opportunities 

IB programs are made possible by dedicated school communities working together to provide transformative opportunities for students. From L-to-R: Colin Pierce, Senior K12 Advisor at DEEL; Ivory Brooks, RBHS Principal; Steven Miller, RBHS IB Coordinator; Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of DEEL.

FEPP Levy School Based Investments (SBI) support IB at RBHS by supplementing state and school district funding and deepening educational supports for students. SBI funds empower 30 levy-partner schools to develop solutions tailored to their unique student community. Rainier Beach, one of the SBI schools highlighted in DEEL’s FEPP Year 2 annual report, invested approximately half of their school’s total SBI funding on inclusive IB programming, totaling $287K in the 2021-2022 school year.  

“Levy funding is important because it allows us to send more kids to four-year universities for free and put them on higher-paying career paths. Without it, we would not be able to have math lab classes, interventionists, and other supports that prepare students for IB college-level courses. The IB program is important to students because it opens opportunities they deserve,” said Steven Miller, RBHS IB Coordinator and IB Theory of Knowledge Teacher. 

“IB is an important part of the preschool to postsecondary continuum we’re building for Seattle students because it ensures a well-rounded educational experience for the entire school community,” said Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of DEEL. “It challenges teachers to improve teaching practices, collaborate, use data, and engage families to positively impact students—these qualities are what make schools successful.” 

DEEL’s partnership with Rainier Beach is rooted in the IB program. Prior to coming to the City, DEEL Director Dr. Dwane Chappelle served as RBHS principal from 2011-2015, where he was instrumental in launching the program, overseeing the IB application process through implementation. Leadership has since transitioned to current Principal Ivory Brooks, a steadfast advocate for accessible IB. DEEL’s Senior Advisor of K-12 School Programs, Colin Pierce, also served as the school’s first IB Coordinator, partnering with families and the community from 2011-2019 to apply for and implement the IB program, laying the foundation for what the program is today. Now in his role at DEEL, Colin Pierce works closely with current IB Coordinator Steven Miller to continue supporting the program.  

“Building the IB program at Rainier Beach was central to the school’s family- and community-led revitalization,” said Pierce. “The community told us what teaching and learning should look like at Rainier Beach, and that it should be designed to serve all students, especially those often marginalized by advanced programs. With their partnership, we built a program that provides transformational opportunities for students.” 

Strengthening Pathways to College and Careers  

RBHS IB Coordinator and Teacher, Steven Miller, introduces a mural project to students in his Theory of Knowledge class.  

This fall will mark the beginning of a new FEPP Levy-supported IB Career Program that will supplement the IB-for-All program by further strengthening college and career pathways, especially for students pursuing skilled trades. Beginning in 2023, graduates will leave the IB Career Program with knowledge and hands-on work experience grounded in their field of interest. The program will also provide a new teacher dedicated to helping students navigate their next steps towards internships, jobs, or college.  

“What excites me most about our Career Program is that our students interested in construction, culinary arts, or the automotive industry will have a teacher to support them in transitioning to those careers. This program will strengthen our school’s pipeline to these industries and solidify relationships with local employers in systematic ways that will more meaningfully serve our students,” said Steven Miller. 

DEEL invests in innovative programs to accelerate Seattle students towards their education and career goals. As with all Seattle public school high school graduates, Rainier Beach IB graduates have access to City-funded investments, including the Seattle Promise program that provides free tuition at the Seattle Colleges. From there, students have even more opportunities to transfer to a four-year university with additional mentorship and financial aid through Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) or Path to UW.  

Diagram illustrating City-funded postsecondary pathways for RBHS IB & Career Program graduates: the Seattle Promise at the Seattle Colleges, WSOS Baccalaureate (BAS) and Career and Technical Scholarships (CTS), and Path to UW. 

Right now, many Rainier Beach IB 2022 graduates are ready to embark on their biggest adventure yet—college this fall! In addition to the new Seattle Promise scholars who will attend Seattle Colleges, 2022 graduates will attend four-year institutions across the country: University of Washington, Pacific Lutheran University, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, University of California Los Angeles, Dartmouth, and Portland State–many with full-ride scholarships. Congratulations, graduates!