Giles said the program, which is offered in schools in 119 countries, provides "excellent preparation" for college and careers. It will be open to students at the high school in 2006, and it will become a magnet program open to all county students the following year, Giles said.
The International Baccalaureate emphasizes critical thinking and requires students to take internationally graded exams in at least six areas and submit an essay of at least 4,000 words, said Elizabeth Donohue, supervisor of advanced programs. She said the program is held to "international standards of rigor."
Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said the school system is looking to increase the educational options for parents and students across the county. She said she hopes the system one day will have a signature program at each of its high schools.
Morgan called the baccalaureate program the most rigorous of all high school offerings.
Giles said officials are looking into grants that would defray some of the program's costs for students with financial needs. According to a PowerPoint presentation prepared for the board, the program's second-year exam fees cost $435.
The school system is responsible for costs associated with applying to the International Baccalaureate Organisation and teacher training.