Summary of concerns raised in parent chats
(Questions from parents are in BOLD and as posted on the Parent Chats submitted by the PTA)
Are teachers teaching the same thing to half the students on alternate days and at-home students are “working on their own? How will teachers “finish the curriculum” this way?
It is essential for parents to understand that teaching students at ISP, including students in IB courses, is not about “covering the curriculum” exclusively in lecture format. This is a misunderstood and outdated conception of teaching and learning. At ISP, we do not focus merely on covering topics but on educating students. To accomplish this, we utilize a Blended Learning approach to teaching/learning (and will continue to use this approach post-pandemic). We define Blended Learning as “the combination of active, engaged learning online combined with an active, engaged learning offline to provide students with more control over the time, place, pace, and path of their learning.” Our teachers utilize the blended learning models to customize learning opportunities, both in-person and at home, to meet the learning needs of students.
And the kids who will be completely virtual, they will never be attending any classes online? So why even have that option?
We are legally required to offer an entirely virtual option for students who cannot attend in-person school during COVID. In addition to the pandemic, there are numerous practical reasons why schools prepare content for students to complete work when they cannot attend school in person for an extended period of time.
There should be live online classes for the kids at home for them to be engaged in a constructive way. Asynchronous learning cannot be completely on their own.
It is impossible for a teacher to deliver engaging, in-person instruction to students in a classroom while simultaneously engaging students at home in a live video lecture. This approach was utilized in the past at ISP and in schools globally, resulting in excessively high screen time and low engagement for students both in class and at home. In addition, survey results from ISP parents indicated a clear preference to move away from so much screen time. Going forward, students at home will continue to have teacher contact on asynchronous days in accord with the blended learning model we practice.
Is asynchronous at-home work the same as “teacherless homeschooling”?
Absolutely not. At-home student work is designed explicitly around their needs and to prepare them for in-person instruction. Additionally, teachers have office hours and will provide students with individual feedback on their work at home.
Is it the parents’ responsibility to be making sure that learning is happening at home?
As with regular in-person school, ultimately, it is the students’ responsibility to complete all their work. It is the responsibility of the school and parents to build a shared partnership of accountability for students and to communicate and intervene when students fall short.
At-home instruction is not an option for IB students. IB prescribes minimum teaching hours: 240 for each higher level subject (3) and 150 for each standard level subject (3) in addition to Theory of Knowledge and an Extended Essay.
These numbers are accurate for regular, in-person school years. During the pandemic, IBO has adjusted its curricular expectations and time demands for students who cannot attend in-person schooling. It is worth noting that the class of 2020 scored exceptionally well on their IB exams after a year of online and hybrid instruction.
May 2021 IB results are mostly based upon internal assessment (by ISP's own teachers). It is in no way a reflection of the quality of teaching, since ISP did not participate in the independently assessed IB exams.
This is not correct information. The correct information is that May 2021 results were based on a combination of teacher-determined Predicted Grades (determined by ISP teachers internally) and the Internal Assessments (assessed externally and independently by independent IB examiners). These externally-assessed components had a significant impact on student results, elevating some scores and decreasing others. The IBO created this model to value the integrity of both the IB’s standard model of independently-assessed work and local teachers’ professional judgments. We are proud of the work that our teachers do, and the results show that they serve their students and student families well.
Do we understand correctly that the teachers will be teaching the same content twice: to A-K alphabet group on Mon-Wed and to L-Z on Tues-Thursday?
No, this also is not correct information and appears to be a false assumption made in parent chats. The idea that teachers simply repeat the same thing two days in a row and students at home do "self-learning" misunderstands the essence of blended learning. Teachers will follow research-based blended learning instructional models that we studied closely as a faculty. As an example, imagine a History teacher wants to help students understand U.S. westward expansion. That teacher would plan a week of learning experiences with various options for students (in-class discussions and activities, collaborative student learning, independent reading, tasks for students to complete, etc.). On Monday, the teacher would begin working through lessons with in-person students. At the same time, at-home students also start to complete tasks and demonstrate their learning to the teacher asynchronously. When the at-home students come to school on Tuesday, they would not be "starting over." Rather, they would work with the teacher to build upon their at-home learning from the previous day, apply it through conversations and activities with classmates, and work with the teacher to prepare them better to continue learning. While the content does not repeat, the cycle of building on previous work repeats so teachers can implement a variety of learning experiences for students to work at their own pace. Students who are struggling can get more support, and advanced students can begin to work ahead of the rest of the class. It is a lot more work for the teacher.
Does this imply that students will be working independently on the home days - without teacher teaching?
No. Teachers teach constantly to students in person and at home. The description "working independently without teacher teaching" incorrectly implies that students devise and pursue their own learning plans while at home while the teachers have nothing to do with them. On the contrary, teachers work very hard to design the at-home learning experiences: sometimes recording videos to walk students through readings and exercises, sometimes designing a wide range of options for students to learn, etc. In addition to designing all of the at-home learning experiences, teachers provide feedback to students and support them through extra office hours that we are asking them to offer.
It looks like this solution addresses the students' demand for more asynchronous time (as opposed to the 30 hours of zoom the past 1.5 year) - which we fully support. However, how will the students be coping with the demanding IB curriculum, if 50% of their time is self-taught?
This again misunderstands and mischaracterizes blended learning. Students are not “self-taught” for half their learning time. As explained above, at-home learning experiences are designed intentionally by the teacher as integral elements of broader curricular plans. They provide extensions to the learning done in-person, and the teacher provides feedback and guidance to the work students create. "Self-taught" implies that students would study something at home entirely on their own with no guidance, materials, feedback, support, or connection to a teacher or classroom. That does not fit into blended learning, and would not fit ISP’s pedagogy.
Also, how is ISP complying with IB minimum prescribed teaching hours?
The IBO has adjusted its guidelines for teaching during COVID. We are entirely in compliance with what the IBO is expecting of us. IB Coordinator Andrew Lin has done a tremendous job ensuring this and keeping students on track to accomplish all they must to satisfy the learning requirements of the IB. You can read more about IB adaptations during COVID here.
How many 11-12th graders have been vaccinated? Do you have numbers for that group?
We do not have the ability to disaggregate the data by these grades. We collected information within and across divisions anonymously from parents to help us lobby MEDUCA to reduce the required social distancing to one meter. However, we do not have data available by grade level.
We fully realise how complicated scheduling puzzle is! But since many IB classes are small, is there really no way to have IB students (or at least the 11 th graders) on campus more often? Somewhere isolated? We have seen with our 3 other children how the first few months are really crucial!
We want all of our students on campus as often as we can have them here - ultimately 100 percent of our enrollment on campus every day - and have worked closely with the authorities to that end. We were surprised by how many students/families chose to remain home in High School rather than coming to school on their assigned days in April and May. We expect that we will see most students coming to school in August and continue for the year. As a school, we are committed to the education of every single student. Therefore, we will continue working with the authorities to get approval to bring all students back safely every day as soon as we can.