Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange Towns

SOMSD Admin to Recommend Discontinuing Middle Schools IB

 

Administrative leadership of the South Orange-Maplewood School District will be recommending the discontinuation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme at the April 27 meeting of the Board of Education.

The program began implementation just last year with the 6th grade class of 2013/14. Administration will be recommending discontinuing the program at the end of this present school year.

This letter from South Orange-Maplewood Acting Superintendent of Schools James Memoli was forwarded to the Village Green from a South Orange Middle School parent. It is also circulating on Facebook. Village Green has reached out to the district for further comment.

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all had a fantastic week to reenergize and are looking forward to some warmer weather and a great end to the school year!

Prior to the spring break many of you responded to a survey regarding IB. Thank you for your responses, as well as the feedback you provided to Ms. Grierson and to me about IB at our after school meetings last fall. I am writing to inform you that Ms. Grierson and I, in consultation with the two middle school principals, are recommending to the Board of Education at their meeting on Monday, April 27th, that we discontinue the IB Middle Years Programme after this school year. The Board will discuss this recommendation on April 27th and most likely vote on May 18.

This decision was not made lightly and is in no way a reflection of the work, professionalism, or commitment on the part of the administrators, the IB coaches, and the teachers at both middle schools. You have all made a herculean effort to implement this new initiative despite other major initiatives competing for your time and attention. No one could have predicted the timing or stress that the new PARCC assessment, Focus School status, the Common Core State Standards, or Achieve NJ mandates would have on the system. Addressing these externally mandated initiatives, and at the same time rolling out a new framework of teaching in the implementation of IB MYP, prevented the program from becoming as transformative as we had expected.

The purpose of the Middle School Transformation Plan was to increase the level of rigor and challenge in our middle schools, and to make it more consistent across classrooms and buildings. Other external initiatives, such as the Common Core State Standards and Achieve NJ, have the same goal and end result. While IB teaching techniques, educational philosophy, and strategies are sound practices, we believe that, together, teachers and administrators can achieve and maintain the same instructional goals without participating and adhering to the IB framework. The unit plans that have been developed by grade level teams across schools have focused on the right components of sound practice – inquiry based instruction. Those plans and common assessments will continue to be used in the future.

Thanks to all of your efforts, we have two vibrant middle school communities where teachers, students, administrators, and parents work hard and are not afraid of challenges. We have thriving music and art programs, STEM classes, an award winning PE program, school plays as well as science, Spanish, language arts, math and social studies classes that are engaging and ever changing based on the needs of our students. The new, more rigorous standards set by the Common Core State Standards and assessed by PARCC and Achieve NJ (including the Framework for Teaching) provide teachers and administrators with the leverage we need to ensure that all students participate in high level learning targets and continue to transform the middle schools as intended by the Middle School Transformation Plan.

Thank you for your dedication, creativity, and all that you do to make the middle school experience so worthwhile for the children.

Jim

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