New curriculum is in the works for sixth-through-10th grade students

by Noah Grumman, ’12

The words International Baccalaureate usually conjure thoughts of diplomas, advanced classes and tests. Soon, something else may be added to this list: middle school.

In the past, only juniors and seniors could enroll in the IB Diploma Programme. However, now an IB Middle Years Programme is currently in the works, under which all sixth-through-10th grade students will be taught under the IB curriculum.

According to Jones Middle School principal Matthew Petersen, the IB Middle Years Programme would be a mandatory curriculum for all sixth through 10th grade students, unlike the IB Diploma Programme at the high school, which is done voluntarily.

“It is very different from [the high school] Diploma Programme,” Petersen said. “A lot of kids and parents, when they hear IB, think of that Diploma Programme at the high school, which is separate classes [and] a certain certificate.”

However, the IB Middle Years curriculum would not be drastically different from the curriculum currently in place for sixth-to-10th grade students.

Petersen said, “The Middle Years Programme is really just a way to look at your curriculum and make it connect.”

The emphasis on relevancy of topics to students is only one of the main benefits of the program.

“The one thing you hear from middle schoolers is, ‘This doesn’t have anything to do with me, why do I have to learn this?’ Those questions should decrease [with the IB Middle Years Programme],” Petersen said.

The continuity of a single program from sixth grade until 10th is another advantage, Petersen said.

“The sixth-through-10th-[grade] Programme is really neat because Jones and high school teachers are working together,” Petersen said. “I think we can do a lot better transitioning our kids from eighth to ninth grade.”

According to Petersen, the Middle Years Programme will not be fully implemented for some time, because teachers are being trained and creating curriculum at Jones, Hastings and the ninth and 10th grade at the high school. An application must also be submitted to the International Baccalaureate organization.

According to the IB Programme website, Bexley Middle School is the only other middle school in Ohio with a Middle Years Programme. Petersen said that the Middle Years Programme is growing fast and that other schools have been considering it.

An IB Primary Years Programme for 3- to 12-year-old students also exists and may be considered.

“[UA schools were] thinking of taking a look at [the IB Primary Years Programme],” Petersen said. “I have heard good things about it.”