IB is a good fit for our students.
The Diploma Programme’s curriculum reflects IB’s emphasis on critical thinking and skill development as opposed to memorizing content. While many of our students have difficulties with short- or long-term memory, or both, they often display strengths in analyzing, thinking creatively, and making connections between ideas. In small classes with attentive teachers, slow processing does not stand in the way of deep understanding or mastery of skills, especially when teachers can give students immediate constructive feedback and tailor lessons to suit individual needs.
IB assessments often take the form of essays, usually in response to questions the student can choose from among many options. The choice of a question allows a student to play to his or her strengths while the essay response provides an opportunity to display knowledge and ideas that never come into play in a fill-in-the-bubble, multiple choice exam. While the AP exams are essentially a summative assessment, simply measuring student performance against set benchmarks, IB assessments are both summative and formative, measuring student progress in a way that can inform teaching strategies and improve instruction. Exam scores are also only a portion of the overall assessment for Diploma Programme courses. Elements of a student’s coursework, the internal assessments, make up the balance. This means that a student’s successful completion of the program does not hinge entirely upon high-stakes exams.
IB courses often involve collaborative group projects. Project-based learning is precisely the educational milieu in which our goal-oriented, hands-on students thrive, while collaboration not only facilitates a rich exchange of ideas and opportunities for students to teach and learn from peers but also affords the opportunity for social growth and the development of pragmatic interpersonal skills. Students who struggle with executive function benefit from practicing the necessary planning out of long-term, multistep projects within a safe, structured, and supervised environment.
IB fosters and appreciates creativity, decidedly an area of strength for many of our students. Creative thinking is encouraged and rewarded in all IB courses and particularly in the Visual Arts course that Eagle Hill will be offering. In this class, students compile a portfolio of their artwork, the portfolio itself becoming the assessment piece.
The interdisciplinary nature of the IB program, along with its insistence on concurrency of learning, leads to deeper understanding and facilitates the fluid interconnection of ideas. The Theory of Knowledge class is taken over two years concurrently with the six subject area courses. Concepts garnered in the various subject courses are examined in the light of principles from other disciplines. Ideas are tested and the very footholds of knowledge are closely examined. Our students will benefit tremendously from explicitly practicing this kind of interdisciplinary examination, learning to see how parts fit into the whole and how concepts can be applied across disciplines.
IB’s approaches to teaching and approaches to learning are simply based on good, solid educational principles that explicitly call for differentiated instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. As we well know, the success of any educational endeavor does not lie exclusively in the set of cognitive aptitudes of the learner but hinges on the complex and adaptive interplay between learners and teachers. With this principle in mind, we are prepared to show that the meeting of world-class standards is well within reach of many diverse learners.