Lost in transit: Some 100 HEB students shocked to learn their IB exams are missing

About 100 students from Hurst L.D. Bell and Euless Trinity high schools are scrambling to figure how the loss of International Baccalaureate exams will affect their college plans.

The schools, which are part of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district east of downtown Fort Worth, have offered the International Baccalaureate programs for 15 years. Students take part in rigorous learning through high-level courses that allow them to earn college credit.

Students can also earn International Baccalaureate diplomas based on test scores. These are considered prestigious by colleges and universities around the world.

But at the two high schools, the much anticipated credits and diplomas appear to be in limbo after three sets of exams shipped on May 9 for scoring outside the United States were lost in transit, according to HEB schools.

“HEB ISD has been in regular contact with UPS to try an locate the missing exams,” the district said in a statement released last week. “Additionally, we have also been in regular contact with the International Baccalaureate officials to try and determine a solution for affected students to receive credit for the exams as well as their IB diplomas.”

The district alerted parents and students via letters on Friday. Parents and students also received a second letter from an IB school coordinator on Saturday. Also, there were two meetings held on Saturday.

The missing exams

Students took the exams in May and expected to get results in early July. Instead, they received a letter from the school district with bad news.

The district told students that on May 9, exam packages were placed into a UPS Deposit Box on the corner of Pleasantview Drive and Norwood Drive in Hurst.

“These packages were never scanned into the UPS system, and therefore, cannot be tracked,” stated a July 6 letter to students. That is the same day the the International Baccalaureate program posted exam results for students.

Tests are typically scored at locations across the globe.

The school district doesn’t have authority to issue test scores or grant the diplomas. Still, HEB school leaders continued to work with International Baccalaureate officials to plead the case. The district also plans to draft a letter that students can use to explain the situation to university admissions counselors.

“We are not giving up — we are going to fight for these diplomas,” stated the July 6 letter signed by Nancy Shane, International Baccalaureate coordination for L.D. Bell.

Parents and students have questioned why the district didn’t make an announcement about the issue earlier in the summer so they could reach out to universities sooner.

Cheryl Bushman’s son was an International Baccalaureate student at L.D. Bell who was accepted into a biology program at the University of Colorado. That program requires an International Baccalaureate biology exam score and an International Baccalaureate diploma, said Bushman, who is employed by the district.

At the moment, Isaiah Bushman, 18, has neither. His transcript shows a P, or pending, in place of a score.

“He doesn’t even have an IB diploma now after all the work that he did,” Bushman said, adding that her son planned to be in touch his academic adviser to ask what he should do.

Inside the IB program

The two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Program educational program is primarily aimed at 16- to 19-year-olds, according to the HEB district. The program provides an internationally accepted qualification for entry into higher education and is recognized by many universities worldwide, the district said.

Students in the program also earned traditional Texas high school diploma.

The program’s academic credentials stand out for college admissions officials.

In HEB schools, students don’t pay for the exams because the cost of testing is covered by the school district — that is not the case with all school districts.

Parents said their children invest immense time and energy focusing on the coursework.

In this case, the effect on college credit will depend on each university and will likely be examined in case-by-case basis, the district told the Star-Telegram. The lost exams will not affect the students’ college admissions, the district said.

“The HEB ISD administration and staff share the concerns and frustration of our students and parents over these lost exams,” the district said in its statement. “We are proud of these students and the hard work and diligence they have displayed in completing the IB diploma course work and pledge to continue to advocate on their behalf until the issue is resolved to our satisfaction.”

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Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.
Emerson Clarridge covers crime and other breaking news for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He works evenings and reports on law enforcement affairs in Tarrant County. He previously was a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald and the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, New York.