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    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Hi all,

    Our district has been having a debate over the last two years regarding deleveling the middle schools. So far 6th and 7th have been deleveled except in math. Tonight, the administration proposed that we plan to institute IB and move to full deleveling (except in math) for grades 6-9.

    I am curious to learn more about IB (I had my own bad IB experience in high school, which I am trying hard to set aside, as it was a very long time ago). I would love to hear from the parents of gifted middle school kids who attend an IB school and what you think about the program. If your child does attend, is the school a charter or selective (by application) school, or is it open to all. If it is open to all, do you live in a school district that is diverse (racially and sociology-economically). Our admin is selling this as the be-all end-all, and it might be, but I wonder how well it really will work in our very diverse district where teachers might be teaching to a class where there are kids three years below grade level and other kids 3 years above.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


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    I can't speak from the parent side, because mine aren't in an MYP program, but I think I know where the admin is coming from, since I've taught the MYP science classes (all of them, from grade 6-10). The way the program is set up is different from the diploma program, which is the gr 11 and 12 program that it seems you were in. In the diploma program each class has very different requirements and are graded very differently.

    MYP, when done correctly is a standards based program. Standards based means that there are standards (levels of achievement) that the teacher grades everything against. Assignments are only given that appropriately fit into the grading categories for each particular class(math, science, english etc.). It gets rid of the "assignments for assignments sake", every assignment given should have a purpose and be written in such a way that the students are able to reach the highest standard of the rubric. Science assignments, for example are graded out of 6 points, with grade barriers of 0, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6. The levels and standards are provided by the IB organization for the final year of the program (gr.10) schools then break them down to be appropriate for the younger grades, being sure that they are working toward the final standards provided. (This is of course where things can fall apart - if the school doesn't break these standards down well, then the younger levels of the program do not grow as they should to be ready for the level expected by grade 10.) Are your high schools then adopting the program for grades 9 and 10 so that the kids get the full program? If not, then there will be no real understanding by the teachers of where the kids need to go.

    How this will help teachers deal with heterogeneously grouped classes? Well, since the standards based grading is not based on percentages right versus wrong, it can allow for more diverse assignments and differentiation within a classroom. I say can because, as is true with any complete curriculum change, it requires the teachers be trained in the MYP program, in standards based grading, and that the district have an experienced MYP coordinator who truly understands how all of the pieces fit together.

    I loved teaching in the MYP program, and we are actually looking for an myp school for DD8 to attend because if it is done well, it would be a good fit for her. There should be a lot of cross curricular/project type work, along with integration of social conscientiousness and differentiation.

    One thing I would be very concerned about is if the support for the teachers is not there, (in terms of training and an experienced coordinator) then I have also seen how horrible it can be. MYP is a program shell with recommendations of the curriculum to be followed. It is not the typical American set up of giving the teachers everything they need to do in one book with lesson plans and everything else done for them. It requires a ton of work to convert your already existing curriculum to fit the IB model of doing things. (This is what I did the first year I taught MYP - it almost killed me, but was well worth it.) You can fudge it so it looks like you are doing MYP, when you are really doing no differently than you have always been doing and because IB doesn't look at student work until the end of the program (in gr 10) there are no checks the school has to go through to ensure that they have implemented the program properly at all levels. The other thing that is really needed is that the report cards for the kids should no longer be the standard F = 65%, D = 66-69, etc. When done correctly, the MYP is not on a scale of 100, but rather a scale of 0-7, similar to the 0-7 scale of the diploma program.

    I do not know if this has answered your question, but I hope it was helpful to you. Again, I would put my DD in an MYP program that was done correctly.


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    Kerry,

    Thanks so much for the information. At this point, the program is only proposed for grades 6-8. Our high school is 9-12 with a very extensive AP program. High achieving kids will take 1 or 2 AP courses in 10th grade (typically Chemistry and the first year of World History), and go on from there, so I am trying to see how this would all work together.

    I think what you are saying is that IB doesn't review any student materials except for 10th graders, so if it was only a 6-8 grade program, there would never really be any way of using the IB organization to measure rigor?

    Our district has just spent a huge amount of time and money over the last 2 years to teach differentiated instruction. I just don't see where the extra time and money will come from to implement MSP in a good way will come from.

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    For the MYP program, the IB never measures the rigor of the program, even if you follow it through to year 10. They measure whether or not the teachers are applying the criteria correctly with the assignments that have been sent in. Although you would think that this would automatically mean that there would be rigor, it can be quite the opposite.
    In other words, as long as the assignments done in gr 10 give the kids the opportunity to reach the highest level on the chart, IB will be happy, it doesn't mean that any of the students actually get to that level. Like I said, it is a wonderful program when done correctly, but if it is only being done in gr 6-8 I would be very skeptical. In fact, I'm not sure that the IB organization will actually approve a program that doesn't go all 5 years. If you want to know more, you could ask the district to see their plan that has to be approved and accepted by the IBO before a school can start using the IB name. It is also a very expensive program, so I can't imagine that the district has that kind of money to spend if they are not going to be in compliance with the IB program.

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    Originally Posted by Catalana
    Our admin is selling this as the be-all end-all...

    I would be concerned... when a school thinks something is an end-all be-all solution, it often signifies that they are reacting to a problem and this is there solution, a solution that they will put in place and then just assume the problems are over.

    An IB program takes a lot of work to really do the correct way and I would wonder how many teachers will be given the training to run the program... finding out will tell you just how serious the school is. I've seen schools that had multiple teachers working the program and it worked fine, I've also seen schools where it was run and maintained by a single teacher that was tasked with doing it all in addition to her other duties... as you can imagine there were issues in the school that tried to do it on the cheap.

    Before you jump for joy or scream in horror, try to find out how they plan on implementing the change. Then you can decide if they are just wasting resources on window dressing to a problem or are actually making improvements.

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    My DS attends a gifted magnet public elementary school which feeds (guaranteed seat) into a public middle school IB program. Some choose to go that route, others go to their regular neighborhood school. To be considered for the IB program, a student must have a certain level on their EOG tests. If they don't meet the criteria then you don't get in...either they go to their neighborhood school or in the "general population" of the IB magnet school.

    The two middle school IB programs are highly regarded here. There is a lottery with long wait lists. Both middle schools feed to high school IB programs.

    Hope that gives you some more info... DS is in 4th grade, so we have another year to figure it all out wink


    Cathy

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