Wareham High School soon to be part of International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program

May 13, 2022

Wareham High School is close to earning accreditation as an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program School. 

The district started working toward certification in the Middle Years Program — an educational philosophy to guide the learning of kids ages 11 to 16 — back in 2016.

Assistant Superintendent Andrea Schwamb said the district started pursuing the certification because officials and teachers needed a structure to help them develop a rigorous and written curriculum that provided opportunities for students.

“It’s about opportunity,” said Schwamb. She spoke passionately about how while it can be easy for adults to slot students into a category as a high-achieving or low-achieving student, it’s important to give kids the chance to succeed. The program has helped teachers develop various ways to assess students’ learning beyond quizzes and tests, for instance.

“I think we’ve lost a lot of opportunities by expressing smart in such myopic ways,” Schwamb said. “It’s time we started to look at who these students are and realize that they have gifts and open up our minds.”

All the teachers at the middle and high schools have been trained in the program, which is a philosophy that puts students at the center of curriculum design, Schwamb said.

The program is a broad curriculum framework that teachers can customize to fit their local curriculum standards. It’s focused on connecting academic material with the real world and encouraging students to think about global context. According to the IB organization, the program works to help students develop “skills for research, critical and creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and self-management.”

All high school teachers have been trained in the program, which informs their teaching of all students. The high school also offers IB classes and an IB diploma program, which are meant to be more rigorous, college-style classes.

“I think what’s important is that it’s an approach to teaching,” said high school teacher Ashlie Yates. “It also emphasizes that students learn differently.”

High School Principal Scott Palladino said that there has been a cultural shift at the high school, where it’s embedded in the curriculum across the board.

The Middle School has also met all the requirements for the Middle Years Program except one: a foreign language teacher for sixth and seventh graders. So while that school won’t officially be part of the program, Schwamb said the staff are “phenomenally skilled” in its application.

The last steps the high school needs to complete are submitting one last application and going through a site visit, which will likely take place during the next school year.