SMMHS Certified for International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme

Rigorous Academic Curriculum Prepares Students For University Study Around The World

Monday, March 15, 2010 - by Judy Frank

Signal Mountain Middle/High School has become the first educational in Hamilton County certified to offer the rigorous, globally recognized International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) to students in grades six through ten.

The school is now in the process of applying for IP’s Diploma Program (DP) certification so it can extend the curriculum through students’ junior and senior years, officials said Monday.

“The MYP curriculum, grades six through ten, consists of eight required core courses taken every year: math, science, computer technology, social studies, fine arts, physical education, language A (student’s native language) and language B (a foreign language),” noted Dr.

Tom McCullough, acting SMMHS principal. “The capstone of the MYP, a personal project in the tenth grade, is a demonstration of the skills and understandings developed throughout the program.”

Another Hamilton County school, Brown Academy, is applying for certification as a primary years program (PYP,” HCDE superintendent Dr. Jim Scales explained during a press conference held at SMMHS. That school has been through its initial visit from an IB authorization team and currently is in the process of making recommended changes in preparation for a second inspection.

Currently, about 1,080 schools in the United States offer one or more of the three IB programs. Of those, 198 are certified for the primary years program (PYP), 328 the middle years program (MYP) and 687 the diploma program (DP).

Dr. Scales – who was late for the press conference because he was in the middle of a school budget meeting – said SMMHS’s IB certification comes as good news for financially beleaguered Hamilton County schools.

Other speakers, including eighth grader Davis Brock, emphasized that the IP program has helped students realize that the various subjects they study are all inter-related.

“All of the classes are more interesting,” the student explained, “and some of them are harder.”

The program also prepares students for colleges throughout the world, not just in the United States, officials said.

For example, if a student from Germany completed the IP diploma program in the US, he or she would be eligible to enter universities throughout the world, including their home country, without any extra preparation.

One thing the program stress is fluency in foreign languages, officials noted. At SMMHS, for example, students can choose to student either French or Spanish.

Davis Brock, the eighth grader, is studying Spanish.

Since foreign language begins in sixth grade, he is now in third year Spanish. And if he remains in the IP program, which requires foreign language in every grade, he will have completed five years by the time he is ready to enter his junior year, officials pointed out.

Should the school achieve its goal of being certified next year to continue the program for grades 11 and 12, Mr. Brock will have seven years of language study under his belt by the time he graduates from high school, they noted.

Other IB schools in Tennessee include:

* Hunters Lane Comprehensive High School, Nashville (MYP and DP)
* Cookeville High School, Cookeville (DP)
* Franklin High School, Franklin (DP)
* Germantown High School, Germantown (DP)
* Hillsboro Comprehensive High School (DP)
* Hillwood High School, Nashville (DP)
* Lausanne Collegiate School, Memphis (DP)
* Oakland High School, Murfreesboro (DP)
* Ridgeway High School, Memphis (DP)
* Science Hill High School, Johnson City (DP)
* Bellevue Middle School, Nashville (MYP)
* Brick Church Middle School, Nashville (MYP)
* Goodlettsville Middle School, Goodlettsville (MYP)
* J.T. Moore Middle School, Nashville (MYP)
* Neely’s Bend Middle School, Madison (MYP)
*West End Middle School, Nashville (MYP)

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