Meadowridge International Baccalaureate 2014 Results, 100% Success Rate

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I wanted to inform everyone as to how our students did on our first ever IB Diploma and Course results. These were our first IB exams – scored externally and internationally, worth up to 80% of the student grades, and analyzed internationally. As well, IB students internationally were the reference group for these exams, and they are considered the best students in the world, the best comparatives for our school. We were apprehensive about these results, since we had no prior experience, our students were not pre-selected, and our predicted scores –given in January – would be tested by the exams, with real consequences for our students if we were too low or too high. Our students had come through the MYP and the DP, and we thought that they would be well prepared, but such high-stakes exams really put our programme to the test. This is how we did, in short terms:

Diploma Candidates: (Number of students=34)

Category Meadowridge World Averages (over past several years)
Average score 33.1 points 29.5 points
Pass rate (Diploma) 100% 80%
Subject pass rate 100% 80%
Scores of 5 or higher 65% n/a

Course Candidates: (Number of students=8)

Category Meadowridge
Average % score 82.2% (Using Ontario provincial conversions)
Range 80% – 88%
Pass rate 100%

As noted in the data, we were about 11% above the world average, and much better in pass rate and subject pass rate. We are very proud of all of our students and of their teachers, who have prepared these students so well. The Course candidates earned the best marks in the history of the school, and our first cohort of Diploma students exceeded our expectations, and also recorded the highest marks in school history. Our projected marks were very accurate, and all of the students retained their university choices and scholarships – to some of the best universities and institutes in the world.

We are proud of these results, but are perhaps more proud of some of the less measurable characteristics that we value, and that our graduates display: Thoughtfulness, inquiry, intercultural understanding, balance, leadership, risk-taking and caring. In many schools, only the very top students are allowed to write DP exams. In our school, every student wrote them, and did well. They exemplify people who have learned to live well, with others and for others, in a just global community.

Congratulations to these students, their parents, and their teachers for the past thirteen years!

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About International Students and the Nature of Our School Community

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Some parents have approached me with a concern about international students at our school, and have shared their perception that we have significantly increasing numbers of international students, notably from Asia. I actually got a call from a local journalist to ask me some questions about this, which had been told to him by a few people as though it were news. We do not keep any numbers by ethnicity normally – we care about ability and character. But I found this interesting, so I decided to investigate.

First, I found the countries where our current students were born. Here are the numbers:

Of the 527 students currently enrolled…

Country
Australia 1 0.19%
Belgium 2 0.38%
Brazil 2 0.38%
Canada 360 68.31%
China 56 10.63%
Columbia 1 0.19%
Germany 2 0.38%
Honduras 2 0.38%
India 7 1.33%
Iran 1 0.19%
Isle of Man 1 0.19%
Japan 1 0.19%
Korea 13 2.47%
Mexico 4 0.76%
New Zealand 1 0.19%
Peru 1 0.19%
Philippines 1 0.19%
Poland 1 0.19%
Republic of Georgia 1 0.19%
Romania 3 0.57%
South Africa 12 2.28%
Ukraine 1 0.19%
United Arab Emirates 1 0.19%
United Kingdom 32 6.07%
US 19 3.61%
Venezuela 1 0.19%
Total 527

As seems clear, most of our students were born in Canada, and we draw the rest from around the world. We do have a very multicultural school, populated by Canadians from around the world. As an IB World School, we should perhaps have an even more multicultural blend, but we are still one of the most multicultural schools outside of Vancouver.  Still, we are lagging behind in attracting international students, and we may need to work harder at it.

On investigating, I found that we only have 15 actual international students – students here on an international visa, which represents 2.8% of our student population. This is too low by most measures. When we look at the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows school district, in which we are located, the numbers are a bit different. Of the roughly 15,000 students in the district, 564 are on international visas, or about 3.7%. That is, there are more international students by percentage in the local school district than in our school. And the District wants more….

Meadowridge 2.8% International students

School District 42  3.7% International students

In an article on December 5, 2013 in the Maple Ridge News, the headline read, “District competing for international students”. In the article, Michael Polan, the District Manager for International Education, states that every single school district is trying to attract international students, using staff and resources to make sure that they are successful. The students enrich the local district financially, and strengthen the education in the schools. As Mike Murray, the Chair of School District 42 told the international students, “Please know, you enrich our school system by being here”.  The fact is that international students bring resources to the community and bring high achievement and an international orientation to our schools.

When we consider the Lower Mainland, we have fewer international students than we should have, in part because of the location of our school in Maple Ridge. Fortunately, we do have a rich ethnic mix.  We are behind the local school district in attracting international students, perhaps because we do not actively recruit from so many countries. As a result, we may be missing the financial and educational opportunities that we might otherwise have. Also, we will not lower our entry standards, which can be very challenging for new international students. We do have a pilot programme to assist outstanding students who are a bit challenged by English (but would not be considered ESL by local districts), and need help for one year or less, and the results so far have been that these students are achieving very well, and will not need further help in most cases. The programme pays for itself because we charge an additional fee for it. As well, international students pay significantly higher tuition in order to cover various costs, and so represent a net gain for our school finances. Fortunately, our school is still one of the lowest-cost premier international schools in Canada for international applicants.

At the moment, we are receiving many applications from all over the world. The last two acceptances have been from Japan and from the United Kingdom. We will continue to insist on high standards, and committed families. Frankly, we do not care about their ethnicity; great families come from all over the world, and Canada has been built by such great families. We do know that we are lagging in recruiting international students.

The final question is whether or not our numbers of international students is significantly higher than in the past, and what effect this has on the community sense. Well, ten years ago we had nearly 40 international students in a population of about 440, so the percentage has decreased over time – a worrying trend for an International Baccalaureate World School. As well, we have a lower percentage of kids who take the bus, so people seem to be moving closer to the school than we had in the past, and may be forming a geographically closer community. I want to invite parents to visit the school at about 5:00pm from Monday to Thursday, just to witness the many, many students who linger after school, play sports, take clubs, and so on. In fact, we now have more sports teams and more clubs than we have ever had; the indications are that our kids and families are participating more fully than ever.

So, the bottom line seems to be that we are low in our numbers of international students on any comparative basis, but one result has been an even closer community. As our school becomes better known worldwide, we will continue to attract outstanding international students, and we will continue to ensure that all new students and their families are woven fully into the fabric of our school community. With any luck, we will increase the number of international students who can meet our standards, and who want to come to our International Baccalaureate Continuum World School in Maple Ridge.

On Grade Inflation and Learning: A Value Equation

What our Students Learn in School

I have been talking a bit with parents in the school about the nature of the education that their children are receiving at the school. They have pointed out that their children could go to another school, and get higher grades with less work. I can only agree. But, in our school, we are most interested in learning, learning that is complex, and challenging, and rewarding.

Just for interest, you will find below some questions that our students are asked to answer on IB tests, as well as some questions that they composed for their individual assessments. You may want to try some of these, to see for yourself what our students can do by the end of grade twelve at this school.

It is possible to find many schools that award high grades for substantially less work, and work of poorer quality. We will not do that. With the IB, we are subject to international marking, at arm’s length. It is not a favour to students to give high grades that are not earned. There are several reasons for this.

Grade inflation leads to failure later on in life.

Right now, there is a Canadian university drop-out rate of about 1 in 6 students, mostly due to a lack of adequate preparation. Typically, students expect higher grades for less effort, and are shocked at the expectations of universities, even though many universities have eased up on their requirements. In 1980, about 40% of Ontario high school graduates had an A or A+ average. In 2007, it was 60%. It is higher now. Yet the universities are finding that students are less prepared than just a few years ago, and the university dropout rate is increasing. As well, employers are complaining about the lack of preparation of many of their new employees, even though these people got high grades in high school. Learning to earn credit is easier when one is young; learning it later on often leads to dismal results.

Accurate grading allows students to understand what is really required for success.

Universities and professions do not give credit for showing up, or for simple completion of work. Success requires real effort, and real results.

We do require rigour on the part of students and staff beyond academics, which is central to the IB and is generally an expectation at our school. That is students are required to be at school longer hours, we mandate their participation in co-curriculars, they must engage in service and we take their character development as central to their education, not as a secondary product. The programme also obliges them to take classes across all subject areas when they don’t have to in other settings. This is because we believe being well rounded intellectually is of value.

The rigours of the IB programme and the culture of our school are not just about university acceptance. There is an over-arching commitment to the growth of more fully developed students who will make positive contributions to the world beyond participation in post-secondary education.

Real learning only occurs when there is a challenging curriculum, and high expectations.

The International Baccalaureate courses provide exactly these conditions. Because of that, the grades that our students get are translated into much higher provincial marks, as I have noted before. A student with 28/45 points on a Diploma is granted immediate entry into second year at SFU; Imperial College (London) accepts IB students with 34 points. We currently have students – this year – who have been accepted on the basis of our predicted marks. They have been accepted into Ivy Business School, University of the Arts (London), George Brown College, Queens, UBC, SFU, Western Ontario (Science / Engineering / International Relations / Business), Waterloo, Hofstra, Penn State, Connecticut, University of Victoria, St. Louis, McGill, Acadia, Kings, Mt. Allison, and so on, often with multiple acceptances. I want to note that most of these are early acceptances, since many universities do not announce acceptances before April/May.

One of the reasons for this success is that the International Baccalaureate is notable for not inflating grades, and so universities have come to count on these grades as being significantly more difficult to achieve than other, inflated grades, and so value them higher. Now that there are few government exams, the international standards of the IBO are becoming more and more valuable. The value equation is clear: Challenge leads to success. In an upcoming letter, I also want to examine the value equation of the Learner Profile against those characteristics that professions and employers seek…

Now: Try some IB test questions for yourself!

Question Set One Question Set Two

Below, please find some Independent Assessments that our students carried out; these questions were composed and then answered by students.

Samples from a list of IA Titles

History SL:

  • To what extent did the work of sculptor Arno Breker promote Nazi ideology?
  • How significant was Hitler’s radio campaign in the context of Nazi propaganda between 1930-1933?
  • Was the policy of appeasing Germany the right policy for Great Britain between 1937 and 1939?
  • To what extent was the decoding of the Zimmermann Telegram responsible for American entry into World War I?

Math SL:

  • Feeding a Nation: How much does it cost to feed the United States?
  • How does the variance of ‘n’ in n-ominoes affect the number of shapes formed?
  • The Mathematics of Fraud

Physics:

  • Determining Specific Heat Capacity by the Method Mixtures
  • Investigation of factors determining the flight of a paper helicopter
  • A vector analysis of momentum in 2-dimensions