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    Q & A For Middle Years Program (MYP)

    Q. Why is the School District Exploring the IB MYP?
    A. For more than a decade, Dobbs Ferry High School has been proud to say that it is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School and a pioneer in IB Education in Westchester County. Throughout this same time period, the Middle School has been preparing its students for the academic rigors of the IB Diploma Program. As the IB Diploma Program continues to expand its HL(Higher Level) offerings and the enrollment increases, the natural next step for the District is the adoption of the IB Middle Years Program.  The MYP will facilitate a smoother transition for students as they enter the High School and will better prepare students in grades 6-10 for the academic challenges of the 11-12 grade IB curriculum. The IB Middle Years Program is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program that emphasizes intellectual challenge and social development encouraging students to make connections between their studies in traditional subjects and to the real world. It fosters the development of skills for communication, intercultural understanding and global engagement, qualities that are essential for life in the 21st Century.

    Q. How is MYP a good fit for Dobbs Ferry students?
    A. The District has a history with IB that is overwhelmingly positive and certainly advantageous for students as they pursue selective college admissions and prepare for careers. Ask any educator, “If you were going to build your own school today, what would it look like?” and they would respond, “It would resemble an IB World School.”  Because…
    • IB/MYP includes ALL students
    • IB/MYP does not require hiring new staff
    • IB/MYP offers top-flight professional development training for teachers to enhance instruction and make teachers more effective in the classroom
    • IB/MYP allows teachers/students to explore topics/subject areas more in-depth and does not solely focus on “teaching to the test”
    • IB/MYP helps students to demonstrate what they know in different ways; to make important connections between subject areas; and to articulate their thinking
    • IB/MYP maps to the best practices in Middle School education
    • IB/MYP motivates and prepares students in grades 6-10 to successfully complete the IB Diploma Program
    • IB/MYP is recognized as the “gold standard” for college preparatory education 

    Q. How much will the MYP cost and how will it be funded?
    A. The District would assume all upfront program expenses such as the MYP coordinator stipend, one-time application fee, annual fees and professional development costs. As we have done in the past, the District would also continue to pursue outside funding support for further teacher professional development. There would be no significant impact on the overall District budget. 

    Q. How long does it take to become an “official” MYP school?
    A.  Applying to become a fully authorized MYP school is an involved process that takes approximately five years from beginning to end. The Board of Education is expected to submit an application by April 1, 2014 to apply for MYP candidacy status.

    In Year 1, known as the Consideration Phase, a school begins by surveying its resources and community to determine if the MYP is a viable option.
    If it is, the school completes an Application for Candidacy over the course of the next year (Year 2). When the IB Organization receives the application, they determine whether the school can go ahead to the next stage, known as the Candidacy Phase.
    If so, the school must implement the program for one to two years before submitting its Application for Authorization (Years 3-4). This second application is very detailed and must include such appendices as a special education inclusion policy, academic honesty policy, assessment policy, budget, etc.  Once that is received, the IB Organization will send representatives to visit the school to evaluate the MYP in the early stages of implementation, and interview students, teachers, administrators and community members to gauge their level of understanding of the program and its effectiveness.
    If the school “passes” the visit, they are considered an authorized school prepared to officially implement the program, and proceed into the Authorization Phase (Year 5 and beyond). 

    Q. What research did the District do to find out more about MYP?
    A. The District spent a year and a half exploring the possibility of bringing the IB Middle Years Program to the Dobbs Ferry Schools. During that time, we have examined the extensive written materials about MYP that the International Baccalaureate organization provides, we have visited a number of other schools that have implemented MYP, we have attended the IB Conference of the Americas 2013 in New Orleans, and we have retained the services of an independent educational advisor who is a recognized expert in all aspects of IB program. We also held meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and community groups to hear their perspectives on MYP. Our extensive research confirmed a remarkable synergy between the guiding principles of MYP and the District’s new five-year Strategic Plan, as well as its updated Vision and Mission Statements.

    Q. What are the areas of focus in the MYP?
    A. The MYP insists upon the thorough study of various disciplines and encourages students to:

    • see the interrelatedness of disciplines
    • appreciate other cultures, as well as understand one's own history and traditions
    • develop admiration for the elegance and richness of human expression
    • learn to communicate effectively in one's own language as well as in a second language
    • become competent in the use of information technology, and acquire a genuine love of learning and disciplined habits of mind and body that will guide their young adulthood 

    Q. Is IB or MYP a curriculum?
    A. IB is not a “subject” taught at school. It is a philosophy and methodology embedded in and across eight subject categories. The IB Middle Years Program (grades 6-10) requires study within eight subject categories- Language and Learning (English), Individuals and Societies (Social Studies), Science, Mathematics, Language Acquisition (Foreign Language), Physical Education and Health, Design (Technology) and the Arts. The MYP differs from other educational programs by incorporating interdisciplinary concepts and global contexts into each subject. These themes provide a framework for developing connections between the subjects in a real-world context. In their final year of MYP, as 10th graders, students will also undertake an independent “personal project” which has flexibility and is “student-passion” driven.

    Q. What is the Personal Project?
    A. The MYP culminates with the completion of a Personal Project in 10th grade. The Personal Project is an independent, eight-month long assignment that showcases the skills that students have developed throughout the five years of their MYP studies. The project is a rich opportunity for students to create an extended piece of work that challenges their own creativity and thinking about personal issues or passion. Personal Projects reflect students’ interests and goals.

    Q. How do you teach classes with mixed ability levels and students with varied skills and experiences?
    Teaching mixed levels, skills, grades, etc. occur in any school regardless of the program. Meeting the needs of all students requires differentiated instruction, a skill that is taught in teacher education programs and reinforced through the District’s in-house mentoring and professional development programs. Since the MYP focuses on open-ended questions and project-based learning, its format helps facilitate the teaching of different learning styles and academic levels. The goal is to educate the “whole” child.

    Q. How does MYP impact student learning and instruction?
    A. The MYP framework encourages good teaching through project-based learning, open-ended questioning and real life problem-solving. Teachers are meant to be “guides on the side,” rather than “sages on the stage.”  Middle School faculty will receive substantial amounts of IB training and professional development to ensure that they are IB ready to teach. Students will be engaged in classes with more interdisciplinary connections and opportunities to demonstrate evidence of their learning in multiple ways. Teachers can remain focused on quality instruction, teaching for learning and understanding; not “teaching to the test.” The research shows that quality instruction focused on depth rather than breadth, results in students who perform well on alternative assessments as well as standardized tests.

    Q. Do teachers have to change their instruction “styles”?
    A. Teachers will experience an “instructional shift” within the MYP framework, but do not need to entirely revamp their methodology. The MYP philosophy focuses on “concepts-driven” instruction rather than the traditional “content-driven” teacher model. Teachers will also need to implement different forms of assessments. The goal of these assessments is to measure the depth of students’ understanding, not the number of right answers. The District’s IB coordinator is here to encourage and assist teachers transitioning to the MYP. The District also has a robust mentoring program that will be beneficial in training both new and present faculty in delivering this type of curriculum.

    Q. Will teachers have to revise their current curriculum/lessons?
    A. This is the ideal time to implement the IB Middle Years Program as teachers are currently reviewing and revising the curriculum to align with the new Common Core Standards, which parallels the MYP approach to teaching and learning. The District’s new five-year Strategic Plan readily encompasses the MYP framework and serves as an educational blueprint for overlaying the MYP. Both the District’s updated Vision and Mission Statements also align with the MYP philosophy, which supports our instructional practices. MYP creates a balanced approach to the school’s own curriculum based on concepts-driven, not content-driven instruction, where students learn to analyze and evaluate information and show their “higher-level” thinking via authentic assessments. 

    Q. How does IB serve Special Education students?
    A. The MYP is an inclusive program. All students in grades 6-10 will be enrolled in it. Instruction in the MYP is meant to be open-ended and project-based, so teachers will be able to accommodate students of varying abilities and special needs.  Special Education parameters are set by New York State and apply to all public school districts. Implementing the IB MYP does not change the obligations the District has to any of its special needs students. The Dobbs Ferry School District will continue to offer an inclusive educational setting for all students. MYP encompasses the District’s inclusive philosophy to benefit ALL students. 

    Q. Are all teachers “IB Teachers”?
    A. All 11th and 12th grade teachers are “IB trained,” and approximately 85-90% of all teachers in the High School have either taught IB or are qualified to teach an IB course. The new Common Core State Standards are closely aligned with the IB philosophy and methodology so there is synergy between what is being taught to both IB Diploma and Regents Diploma candidates. Since all junior and senior year teachers are trained in the IB approach, every student benefits from and receives enriched instruction. 

    Q. How will MYP prepare students for careers who may not be taking the traditional 4-year college route?
    A. The IB Middle Years Program provides skills beyond academics. The IB philosophy is application-based and real world based emphasizing career-readiness. It covers time management, critical thinking, self-direction and other important “life” skills that are essential to becoming productive citizens in any field of choice. The MYP and IB approach to courses are seen through this lens and mindset.  The IB Learner Profile reflects specific attributes and skills that are useful in a college setting and on the job. Presently, 98% of Dobbs Ferry High School graduating seniors go on to 4-year or 2-year colleges. 

    Q. What about students who go through the MYP and decide not to pursue the full IB Diploma in 11th and 12th?
    A. While 11th and 12th grade students are not required to pursue the full IB Diploma, the hope and expectation is that all students will enroll in more IB courses. Presently almost every single student in the High School takes at least one IB course and those numbers are increasing. This year students registered for 42 more IB exams than last year and overall performance on these tests has increased as well. Approximately 25% of the senior class graduates with a full IB Diploma. Students who do not take the full IB Diploma graduate with a Regents or Advanced Regents (passing 8 Regents Exams instead of 5) Diploma. To interest more students in pursuing the full IB Diploma the District would like to broaden the course selection within the IB Diploma to include additional SL and HL courses. By preparing students earlier through the MYP, the District feels that more students will feel ready to undertake the IB Diploma. 

    Q. Where can I get more information on IB and MYP?
    A. The Dobbs Ferry School District website (www.dfsd.org). Please click on MYP in the Spotlight section for more detailed information.