Secondary curriculum: American standards to the IBDP—how does it work?
Not all International Baccalaureate (IB) schools offer the PYP (primary years) or MYP (middle years) frameworks—some choose to provide only the IB’s Diploma Programme (DP) as an option for their older students. Stamford American School Hong Kong falls into this category of schools. Stamford American offers an inquiry-based approach to learning combined with American Education Reaches Out (AERO) standards, based on the Common Core. This combination provides students with a solid foundation in literacy and math to ensure they are positioned to be academically successful in the IBDP in grades 11 and 12. For many parents, the linking of explicit learning standards to feedback and progress reports (standards-based approach) makes the program rigorous, honest and accountable.
However, what makes the IBDP program so successful is not just the academic rigor, but also its approach to developing the whole child. For a smooth transition to this program, it is crucial to prepare students in key areas such as global citizenship, approaches to learning, action and service, and Learner Profile attributes. At Stamford American School, these have been embedded in the day-to-day learning and teaching of the Secondary School. "We need to begin with the end in mind. We design our programs considering what our students need to be successful in the IBDP and beyond. If we work back from there, then we know we have prepared them the best we can," commented Michael Galligan, Academic Coordinator, Stamford American School Hong Kong.
The Sophomore Project
The Extended Essay is a significant component to the IBDP (completed in grades 11 and 12), giving students a solid foundation in research skills and project management, and developing these skills is a significant aim of the Sophomore Project at Stamford. This 8-month long project in Grade 10 is excellent preparation for the Extended Essay and also a culmination of key skills for those who might not choose to pursue the IBDP.
Embedding the Right Learning Approaches in the Curriculum
The secondary school curriculum at Stamford integrates approaches to learning in the curriculum, which means that students aren't just learning content, but also communication, research, thinking, social and self-management skills. To imbue a global perspective, each unit of study also has a global citizenship focus. In addition to the curriculum units, students also complete action and service activities to build empathy and awareness of the broader community. Students' social-emotional growth is also fostered with Stamford's dedicated programs, Second Step and School-Connect.
What's the result?
Based on more than 20 years of working in international schools, Galligan believes, "By engaging with cross-disciplinary elements such as approaches to learning traits, Learner Profile attributes and global citizenship during formative years, students are well-positioned for the IBDP program.” Additionally, personalized learning is supported with sound pedagogical approaches and a proprietary assessment database for teachers to leverage. Finally, a solid curricular framework and culminating project in Grade 10 (the Sophomore Project) help build confident learners who are ready to embrace challenges as they pursue university aspirations.