We are IB
IB Science instructor Marc Whitley with students

Aspen School District is on its way of becoming a full International Baccalaureate School District

This year, ASD secured authorization for the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) for grades 6-10. ASD is a candidate for the Primary Years Programme and is in the process of pursuing authorization for grades, preK-5, with a target consultation visit in 2024.

“This is huge for us,” said Tharyn Mulberry, ASD Assistant Superintendent who oversees instructional programs. “A completely aligned preK-12 curriculum ensures a continuum of programs, education philosophy and a consistent approach to learning across the grades. We are thrilled to offer this strong educational program to all of our students – it’s both rigorous and inclusive.”

Why did ASD want to pursue IB as a district-wide curriculum?

“IB programs are aligned with ASD’s longtime educational philosophy of lifelong learning, critical thinking and learning for understanding,” Sarah After IB MYP Coordinator said, “Becoming an MYP district fits well with the best parts of our school district and pushes us to work together to become even better. We strive to provide high quality experience for all our students, and the MYP framework encourages students to be caring, inquiring, and reflective learners.”

ASD has had the IB Diploma Programme (DP) for grades 11 and 12 since 2001.

“Pockets of the district had been thinking about adding the MYP and PYP for years, and we officially entered the consideration stage in 2020,” After said.

ASD was accepted into candidacy in the spring of 2021 and teachers and administrators got to work to become authorized. As a candidacy school, the teaching teams collaborated on a variety of aspects of education including:

  • Understanding IB philosophy and IB approaches to teaching and learning

  • Organizing the school structures (There are eight subject areas in the MYP, and at Aspen Middle School the schedule changed to ensure students have each of the subjects in grades 6-8)

  • Collaboratively planning the curriculum and MYP units (264 units have been added into Toddle)

  • Determining assessment for learning (This is a continued focus area for next year)

Having a true PreK-12 aligned curriculum allows teachers to follow the progress of students through the grades. For example, in the 2022-23 school year, students in grade 8 worked on community projects. They will work on a personal project in grade 10 and teachers can see the growth and skills they learned through those years.

Further, After explains, “the skills learned through the long-term projects will be used by students for the Extended Essay in the Diploma Programme.”

Although there are other schools in Colorado that have a continuum of PYP, MYP, and DP, because ASD is small, it will be the first district that we know of that is fully IB in Colorado, After said.

How ASD earned authorization:

Teaching teams began training in the fall of 2021 and then met weekly to discuss IB philosophy, approaches to teaching and learning, and the MYP unit framework. Over the past two years, ASD has sent more than 40 teachers to MYP training for their subject area.

Teachers collaborated to blend the Colorado Academic Standards, the district curriculum resources, and the MYP learning objectives into documented units. In 2022 ASD implemented the use of Toddle platform, a curriculum planning tool that has been developed specifically for IB schools. This tool has been extremely beneficial for teachers' collaboration on units across grade levels and content teams.