CB viewpoints:Confirming BIBS’ focus on learning

1-1[Editor’s Note]
April has been another busy month for BIBS. Last week, we hosted two WASC visitors at both BIBS UES and Shunyi campuses. In addition, we will have two members of the IB verification team at UES on April 28-29. You may ask, “What benefits does seeking accreditation from bodies such as WASC and IB bring to BIBS?” We welcome the accreditation process, which bolsters the school’s commitment to improving the teaching & learning at BIBS and provides recommendations about how we can further increase student achievement. For more details, here is Craig Boyce’s Viewpoint article this week to share how BIBS continues to strengthen its educational environment.

1-11You may ask, ‘what benefits does seeking accreditation from a body such as, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), bring to BIBS?’ At BIBS we want to ask, ‘how do we know that what we do is improving student accomplishment of learner outcomes?’ The BIBS mission statement highlights our focus on students as learners. We aim to equip young people “with knowledge and integrity to function successfully, responsibly and effectively” in the communities in which they live. How well is this done?

1-10The school has adopted the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculums to find ways to give concrete expression to this aspiration. The IB Learner Profile encapsulates BIBS school wide learner outcomes. How do we know if we are doing a good job at teaching and learning? How do others recognize the quality of what is done in a young school such as ours? How can we find ways to work together to achieve our aims IB Learner Profile inspires learners throughout their life to strive to be: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.

1-9Throughout their learning at BIBS, students are constantly asked to ‘reflect’ on their own learning in order to develop what educational psychologists call, ‘metacognitive’ knowledge and skills, which is simply a greater understanding of how they think and learn best. Likewise, as a school, BIBS needs to ‘reflect’ on what and how we are doing in order to develop a ‘meta-insight’ of how a great school promotes learning that addresses student needs. A helpful way to do this is through engaging in an accreditation process.

1-8During 2013-2014, BIBS took part in a full WASC self-study, which examined school wide strengths and identified critical areas for follow-up. This culminated in a WASC Progress Report published in April 2014 that noted five school wide goals, which focused on development of and support for a rich curriculum centered around enriching the learning experiences for students. Having knowledgeable and experienced WASC educators look at the school’s performance provides an impartial evaluation of where we are as a school.

Over the last months, BIBS has prepared and submitted a mid-cycle progress report to WASC, which includes an action plan for further development of our five school goals. From April 20 to 22, two WASC team members were in the school looking at what our vision is for students and how we implement changes to facilitate high-quality student learning and achievement. The team met with school leaders, groups of teachers, students, and parents. They observed classes in action and read our documentation.

1-7After weighing all the evidence, the WASC team makes a series of judgments against a set of international standards that are informed by reputable research and accumulated wisdom of accomplished schools. These judgments are to be recorded in a report that includes a series of commendations and recommendations to guide BIBS with its future planning. As a school, we continuously refine internal means by which we monitor and evaluate our progress, however, the independent observer is often most clear.