April 1985: Graded became the 353rd IB school in the world, opening new academic paths for our school. IBO had existed for 17 years—still a new program--almost exclusively in international private schools.
AP History and English courses were phased out a year later, as HS departments and teachers created courses aligned to IB curricular aims and objectives. Ed Greene (now Head of International School of Amsterdam) was our first IB Coordinator. He got the program going, and taught IB English and ToK.
At Graded program’s start, students had a limited path to an IB Diploma, different from today’s range of courses that attend diverse student interests and talents. In 1986, a student could choose IB English A HL, Portuguese A HL and B, French B, History HL/SL, Biology SL, Physics SL, Math HL/SL, Math Studies SL, Art HL/SL, and ToK. A number of adventurous students signed up for these courses, significantly more challenging than the parallel “regular” courses in each subject area. Determined, hard working Un Kyung Park earned Graded’s first IB Diploma in 1988. (It’s hard to do this alone. Thereafter, IB students had more peer support, in cohorts ranging between 4 and 10, later 10-25, and these last 8 years encompassing from 40% to the present 75% of all 11th & 12th graders. Furthermore, non-Diploma students still take a very commendable average of 5 IB courses and exams, making IB a shared experience for all.)
In 1990, Dr. Gunther Brandt, with years of IB experience, became Superintendent, giving a significant boost to our IB program. In 1992, to recognize the additional academic rigor and to stimulate greater IB participation, the Board approved weighting grades for HL courses. Recognizing the IB program’s great value for all Graded students in promoting concerned ‘world citizens’ through challenging academic courses, individual research (Extended Essay), critical interdisciplinary thinking (Theory of Knowledge), and important focus on community service (CAS), Dr. Brandt and the Board voted in 1993 to remove the perception of IB as ‘elite’ and make the completion of at least 3 IB courses & exams a graduation requirement, for the class of 1997, so that all students could benefit from IB courses.
In our early IB days, leading our initial ToK course, an IB centerpiece, was a lifelong Graded alum, Lena Rotenberg, who later edited the worldwide ToK journal, was ToK Deputy Chief Assessor, and an author of one of the ToK textbooks we now use as a class resource.
Students must work hard to earn all three of Graded’s diplomas. The Brazilian Studies department has always enthusiastically cooperated with IB, developing, in partnership with British Rio, an IB-approved school-based syllabus for Brazilian history and geography, giving students credits for two diplomas with one course (as also occurs with Portuguese courses).
Graded’s HS teachers have taken advantage of good support for IB teacher training to add to their amazing skills and dedication in engaging students at high levels of thought, analysis, and activities. Lest we forget, IB is an all-school effort, as LS & MS teachers stimulate a thirst for learning and critical thinking, as well as preparing students from their earliest days with a solid base of content skills and knowledge. The IB Learner Profile is a basis for our K-12 curriculum.
Graded’s teachers have always been extremely helpful to teachers from other IB schools in Brazil, hosting teacher visitors on a regular basis for class observations and consultations, and generously sharing rich materials they developed that spark student interest and engagement.
It is wonderful to see IB continue to develop and grow at Graded.
A thumbnail view of IBO and some stats: http://www.ibo.org/facts/fastfacts/index.cfm
Sherry McClelland was IB Coordinator from 1988-1997, 2004-2013; CAS Coordinator 1988-1993; IB-MYP Coordinator from 1993-2001; MS Principal 1993-2004. She represented IB-Brazil in regional and international IBO advisory and curriculum committees 1988-2003.)