IB to expand as it reaches middle schoolers

For many CHS sophomores, with the month of March comes the choice of whether or not to participate in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program — an important and difficult decision that many students have pondered since the beginning of their freshman year. However, as soon as the 2021-2022 school year, students will have to make the seemingly fate-determining decision much earlier. El Roble Intermediate School is implementing the Middle Years Program (MYP), an extension of the IB program at CHS, which will also become an option for 9th and 10th graders at CHS. The inquiry-based international program differs from classes with a standard curriculum, as it aims to develop open-minded young people, and tends to be viewed as more rigorous. For many students, the goal of the IB program is to eventually receive the coveted IB Diploma at the end of their senior year, so what does it’s implementation mean for the students and staff of El Roble?

The MYP program at El Roble would require that participating students take seven classes comprising eight subjects including a language and an elective starting in 7th grade. This would mean that El Roble would have to rework their current six-period schedule in order to implement this requirement. However, instead of adding more teachers, El Roble staff would most likely just need to redesign how they teach in order to fit into the context of the program. Classes would be interconnected, meaning that history classes may also use some math and science and vice versa. The program would also be more globally focused and would require eighth-graders to take part in a community project, a service-learning project where students learn through being involved in helping some aspect of their community. While participation in the program at El Roble is not mandatory in order to join MYP at the highschool or the IB program in 11th grade, it will give students an edge as they will already be accustomed to the learning style and workload.

Natalie Sieg, who teaches IB Psychology and serves as CHS’ IB coordinator, has been instrumental in bringing MYP to El Roble.

“In school, we are doing the same stuff that we have been doing since the Industrial Revolution,” Sieg said. “The idea is that there has been no change, and this program can really help people push forward.”

Research has shown that MYP’s inquiry-based learning program can build confidence as well as prepare students to face global challenges. However, one common concern regarding the implementation of this new IB curriculum is that students may be divided by their classroom rigor at a much younger age.

“I certainly think that having students make choices will give them buy-in and they will want to work harder,” Sieg said. “But this could potentially create a divide, and we will figure out how to stop that from happening.”

Luke Mason, a current El Roble eighth-grader, also wonders about the possible separation MYP would cause.

“I think with more options always comes more stress. Mason said. “However, I also think MYP classes would be really interesting to take.”

A proposed solution to this possible division is to make some aspects of the MYP program available to all students. This includes the community project, as well as whole school global assemblies, and similar internationally themed books.

As for the future, El Roble is in for a major change. It is unclear exactly how many students will take part in MYP, or the impact it will have on the students. However, one thing is clear — Claremont middle school students will now be able to take part in an entirely new way of learning, as well as the stress and pressure of the decisions that come with it.