Mathematics in an IB SchoolPosted: October 31, 2014
Mathematics at ISBerne
There may be no subject in a school curriculum that generates as much debate as mathematics. And this is proving to be true at ISBerne.
The International Baccalaureate requires all students to take mathematics, offering the subject at Higher, Standard, and Studies levels in the Diploma (grades 11 and 12). Unlike the national systems many of us experienced, where we could drop mathematics after a certain grade, this is not an option for our students. In addition, ISBerne, with students from over 50 nationalities, is in the position of addressing a significant spread of curriculum requirements, skills, attitudes, applications and more, as a consequence of our students’ previous experiences. To show how significant this can be, please have a look at the spread of scores as shown by the PISA results, found at: http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/dec/03/pisa-results-country-best-reading-maths-science (zoom in for a longer list of countries).
The spread of results indicates more than a three-year gap between the highest and lowest performing countries in mathematics. A student achieving outstanding grades in a national system at the bottom of the list might well be out of their depth when transferring to the IB. This would certainly be a result of the gaps in knowledge, rather than the consequence of work ethic or aptitude. The reverse is equally true of students from the top-performing systems, who may well find they have studied work that is now being ‘re-taught’ to them.
Clearly, addressing these issues (and those in Reading, Writing, and Science) present international schools with interesting challenges in discerning where strengths and needs lie for individual students. Parents have an important voice in this conversation, and I would encourage ongoing engagement with teachers, as well as the Programme Coordinators, in this regard.