Less Tests, More Choice: Course and Curriculum changes in the IB

March 29, 2019

Next year, there will be many changes occurring at ISB including the cafeteria and uniforms. These things greatly affect student life which is perhaps why high schoolers are generally very aware of them; however what is less known about, but arguably just as important, are the curriculum and course changes occurring next year.

Math Courses

Next year, the IB Studies class will be discontinued and the SL and HL classes will be divided into two branches: Applications and Interpretations and Analysis and Approaches.

The Applications and Interpretations class will be focused on math for professions in social sciences, natural sciences, statistics, business, economics, and psychology. On the other hand, the Analysis and Approaches class will be modeled more like the current traditional math classes and geared towards those pursuing mathematics, engineering, and physical sciences.

They are also modifying the classes for freshmen and sophomores to line up with the new IB program. So, the structure will be moving from the current three class model (studies, standard, higher) to a two-class model. The courses will be called 9 Core/10 Core and 9 Extended/10 Extended.

According to math teacher Colin Stephenson, this is because “from IB’s point of view, they’re trying to get more people to take some more rigorous mathematics. I think it’s also to help the program to be accepted by more universities because currently some universities, especially European schools, don’t recognize IB Studies as the entry-level math that they need.”

English Courses

The IB English curriculums in both Language and Literature and Literature classes will be changed next year. According to English teacher David Giles, one benefit of these changes is that the new changes “allow teachers great flexibility and students great flexibility to choose what they want to learn.”

The main aspect of changing within the curriculum is the amount of linking between texts and connections being made. In the modified curriculum, there will be a lot more thematic connections, connections to the world and current global issues, as well as links to TOK and CAS. In my opinion, the most important and exciting change being made is the number of assessments being minimized. Mr. Giles explains, “they are trying to reduce the number of assessments for the students to try to reduce stress”.

Just like changes to the math department, the changes in the IB English Curriculum will file down into Grade 9 and 10 English classes to better prepare students for IB. The last change for the English department is that the current freshmen will be the last class to have the English 9 Challenge class.  English 10 challenge will continue.

English 9 challenge is being discontinued because the English Department believes they are able to meet the needs of all students without having a challenge class in Grade 9. So, in a nutshell, “more freedom, more flexibility, fewer assessments, and a lot more thinking about the real world.”

Science Courses

For the many underclassmen stressed out from taking two science classes in one semester, this solution is being implemented to try and avoid that stress from happening to future classes. There will be a new science course available to freshmen called Accelerated Science.

This course will combine Chemistry 1, Biology 1, and Physics 1. Since lots of skills (especially data management) needed in these classes crossover, by not having to reiterate these skills, time is saved which is how, alongside a faster pace than the individual classes, they are combining 1.5 years of work into 1.

According to Ms. Soule, “The main benefit is completing all three level I science courses in two semesters.  This allows time in the schedule for more level II science courses or for more arts and electives.”

While most students including myself often tend to get caught up in all the changes that we believe to be most impactful on us as students such as uniforms and the cafeteria, I believe it is just as equally, if not more, important to be aware of the changes being made to the academics because they ultimately are the most impactful on students. What do you think about these changes? Leave your comments down below!

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