Theme 3: New Diploma Options

Progress Updates

Construct new IMSA diplomas that offer broader pathways to experience IMSA.

April/May 2024

Our Research, Inquiry Skills & Experimentation (RISE) program is a model for replicating IMSA opportunities for non-residential students. It replicates the SIR model for 9-12th grade students who are interested in pursuing a high-level, year-long, in-depth study of a science topic of their choosing by conducting original scientific research. Students participating in RISE will be able to receive the same experiential learning credential as IMSA SIR students.

2024-25 Travel Study opportunities have been determined and include a structure that would provide a potential experiential learning credential to pilot pathways in 2024-25.

Dr. Angela Rowley will present the July Board meeting Deep Dive to propose different pathways for the IMSA diploma using a blend of academic credit and credentials.

March 2024

We are continuing conversations with Waubonsee Community College about courses we may offer as dual credit next school year. We are prioritizing courses that already meet or exceed their standards. In addition, President Glazer, Angi Rowley, and Will Perkins have been connecting with education groups in China, Turkey and Mexico to explore the potential for a semester or summer at IMSA program in 2025 where visiting students could earn an IMSA credential. The Principal’s Office is exploring a creation of an experiential learning team which will offer guidance on the standards and development for IMSA credentials. More information will be shared at the Deep Dive presentation at the July Board meeting.

February 2024

The plan for dual credit was presented to the entire faculty & Academic staff to answer questions and respond to rumors. We will have 10+ courses suggested for FY25. Other work of the theme team included:

● President Glazer presented at the Success Network Conference on February 29 at Moraine Valley Community College on a panel called “Dual Enrollment Beyond Your Boundaries: Virtual and Hybrid Innovations by State Universities.”
● Following the February Community Day, the idea of experiential learning credentials and credits was presented to the faculty and all academic staff. This is an important element of diploma pathways that will be presented in the Deep Dive discussion at the July Board meeting.
● President Glazer, Angi Rowley, and Will Perkins have been connecting with education groups in China, Turkey and Mexico to explore the potential for a semester or summer at IMSA program in 2025 where visiting students could earn an IMSA credential.

January 2024

Team Coordinators are currently exploring a modification to graduation requirements, giving consideration to the inclusion of dual credit and the inclusion of accepting outside university credit towards graduation. To that end, we are exploring dual credit with Waubonsee Community College for potentially 10 existing IMSA courses for the 2024-2025 academic year.

In addition, we are considering experiential credentials as part of future diploma pathway options. Credentials are significant outcomes related to IMSA experiential learning, such as research, entrepreneurship, etc. Students can earn both credentials and academic credits as part of their diploma. More information will be available in a future Deep Dive Board of Trustees presentation about diploma pathways.

December 2023

Multiple courses have been identified that appear to align with Waubonsee Community College course catalog. During Spring 2024 we will offer Java Programming (Object Oriented Programming) as dual credit. Once we complete an audit, we plan to propose dual credit offerings for additional courses in the Fall 2024.

To support our efforts to increase pathways for research, we are currently exploring offering an SIR course within the mod schedule. This will help students access SIR during the school year who are unable to do so on Wednesdays.

Tami Armstrong and Evan Glazer went to 1871 and met with CEO Betsy Ziegler to explore access to their entrepreneurship curriculum and potential internships in the future. As we explore creating an entrepreneurship diploma pathway, we need to identify how students will learn the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to perform well in this space.

November 2023

We have long desired to meet the demand for an IMSA education. Our qualified applicant pool exceeds our residential capacity, and we acknowledge that some STEM-loving students are unready to live independently at age 15. Suppose we redefine what it means to be an IMSA student in order to increase access by nurturing students who crave the challenge and differentiated experience IMSA offers, but are not able to be in Aurora full-time. We must explore the motivations and needs of these students now, not only to meet demand and close equity gaps around the state, but also to broaden our reach and keep IMSA thriving.

One of the ways to increase our impact is to award newly established credentials upon each student’s successful completion of their IMSA experience based on the level of depth:

  1. The IMSA advanced studies diploma would be evidence of successful completion of advanced coursework in our three-year comprehensive residential education program.
  2. The IMSA research and entrepreneurship diploma would be evidence of a three-year path that recognizes distinction through a portfolio of student-driven research and emerging technology with great flexibility in course selection, including more time out of the classroom to experiment, innovate and work on project-intensive work.
  3. The IMSA diploma seal would be a credential evidencing completion of a shorter focused learning experience acknowledged on a home school diploma.

A team of academic colleagues and Faculty Team Coordinators are working on ….

  • Course review and development to increase research and entrepreneurship offerings
  • Graduation elective credit for SIR, internships, and independent studies
  • Hybrid blended courses  for on and off-campus students
  • Cross-curricular courses specializing in integrated opportunities
  • Potential pathways for each diploma option