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Town of Westlake, Westlake Academy IB World School

MYP Grows into “The Next Chapter"

After a two year realignment effort, Westlake Academy’s  Middle Years Programme has a newly designed platform that enhances the child’s educational experience and more closely reflects the International Baccalaureate (IB) principles of teaching and learning. 
 
“MYP—The Next Chapter” helps educators recognize developmental needs of students aged 11 to 16 and provides academic rigor and challenge while also meeting the needs of students in different cultures and educational contexts. This ground-breaking change, which began two years ago, is new to the IB and for some schools being rolled out in phases. Westlake Academy, however, took the option to fully begin the program and after much work and effort, those practices are in now place. 
 
“We could jump in, or phase it in,” said MYP Principal Dr. Andra Barton. “We jumped in feet first … and because of our aggressive stance of implementing the program, we are starting to see the rewards of that alignment effort. Those rewards will grow for years to come.”
 
Barton said last year staff saw a huge jump in test scores and the MYP fared well not just in passing but in advanced performing. “That’s where we made our biggest gain,” she said. “It’s good that we took the opportunity to implement MYP—The Next Chapter. It’s been a difficult process but worth it.”
 
Terri Watson, MYP coordinator, said one thing in particular was implementing the alignment the assessment of grading and reporting with IB philosophy and using Managebac to help with that and house curriculum documents. Other changes include implementing new approaches to learning, so staff can really focus on teaching in a manner that helps focus on the whole child.
 
As expected, some of the changes were difficult in the beginning while the process was being worked out. Besides a new document system, students began a double block of math, a double block of English/humanities, and additional extracurricular activities. Requirements for teachers include continuous planning for year five of the MYP, with the “end in mind” as the focus.
 
“By aligning the MYP with the IB it created strength and structure,” said Alan Burt, assistant principal/director of athletics. “It’s a magical progress, the sparkles you see ... we’re starting to see the progress as it’s growing.”
 
Barton said the MYP still has opportunities, and still has work to do, but having a total alignment with the IB sets the stage for positive changes that will help students succeed for years to come.
 
“The good news is, were building the depth … the success lies with the standards and practices of the IB,” Barton said. “For WA MYP, there is not a single thing that’s not in tandem with IB, and we are seeing children succeed as a result.”
 
Aside from the program realignment, the MYP conducted a self-study to prepare for reauthorization of the MYP Programme, which is a requirement by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). Westlake Academy was authorized to implement the MYP on July 25, 2007. As an IB World School, Westlake Academy adheres to the IB Standards and Practices, which provide continuity across the continuum of program. To assure pedagogical growth and implementation of its philosophical aims, the IBO conducts evaluations of the programs on a five-year rotation.
 
The MYP Programme was last reauthorized during the 2011-2012 school year. The next evaluation is scheduled this month(note to editor: March). Preparation for this reauthorization requires more than a year.
 
Terri Watson, MYP coordinator, said the self-study started in January 2015. Every five years, the IB requires a self-study so the school can reflect on the implementation of the program and for the IB to verify the school’s reflection to ensure their standards and practices are being withheld. There are seven standards and practices, each is broken down and studied to find supporting evidence that the practices are being met.
 
“We’ve made strides … from the last evaluation feedback and things we wanted to bring, we’ve done that,” Watson said. “By using these approaches to learning, we can really focus on the whole child.”