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The British Are Coming!

By Tiffani Razavi, TIE Staff Writer

Following the award of the Broad Prize for Urban Education last year for improving student achievement, raising the graduation rates of minority students, and increasing the percentage of minorities reaching advanced levels on state exams, Miami-Dade, the fourth-largest school district in the United States, began in August the roll-out of a three-year collaboration with Cambridge International Examinations, part of the University of Cambridge.
Cambridge International Examinations is the world’s largest provider of international education programs and qualifications for 5- to 19-year-olds, recognized by universities and employers around the world. Cambridge programs including Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge International AS and A Level and the Cambridge AICE Diploma Program are already offered in 270 schools in the U.S., but Miami-Dade is the first major American school district to establish such a relationship.
Miami-Dade County public schools serve nearly 350,000 students, around 90 percent of whom are from African-American or Hispanic backgrounds. For 21 percent of students, English is not their primary language, and 74 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, considered a key indicator of poverty. The district has instituted a number of reforms in recent years, including using student achievement data to guide decisions about the best way to teach students, and on which areas to focus; and last spring announced the ground-breaking partnership with Cambridge.
At the launch of the program, Michael O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of Cambridge International Examinations said, “We know that schools in the U.S. and around the world want to provide their students with the best preparation for the next stage of their education, university and beyond. I am therefore delighted that we have established this agreement with Miami-Dade, which I am confident will benefit students and teachers in schools across the district.”
Passionate about education and positive about the value of involvement with Cambridge, Alberto M. Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, commented: “A Cambridge education will give Miami-Dade County public schools students an international advantage, helping to prepare them for college and careers in our increasingly global marketplace.”
Cambridge International Examinations reports that over the next three years, Miami-Dade County Public Schools will introduce 80 Cambridge programs in 70 schools, including the Cambridge Primary Program in elementary schools, the Cambridge Secondary 1 Program in middle schools, and the Cambridge International General Certification of Secondary Education (Cambridge IGCSE) and the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (Cambridge AICE) Diploma Programs in senior high schools.
These new Cambridge Program schools will complement the 20 existing Cambridge programs currently running in 16 Miami-Dade schools. With the expansion of Cambridge Programs, Miami-Dade County public schools will offer a rigorous academic continuum that emphasizes analysis, problem solving, and communication skills. Students who earn the Cambridge AICE Diploma can be awarded college credit or advanced standing at the university level, in addition to the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship. In addition, Miami-Dade County Public Schools will offer face-to-face professional development for teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels over the next three years as well as online teacher training and curriculum support.
The development of the partnership with Cambridge highlights the Miami-Dade District as a U.S. leader in K-12 international programs. At the high school level, Cambridge AICE Diploma Program students from the district have already earned distinction for achieving at the highest level in the United States on Cambridge AICE examinations.
Underlining the potential gains for future students, Cambridge International Examinations cites the example of student Ricardo Gomez from Miami, who achieved a Top in World Outstanding Learner award in AS Level Spanish Language. The expansion of the program to more schools in the county will allow increasing numbers of students throughout the District to reach this level of international distinction.

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