When I first started teaching MYP Science I was working in a big international school in Bangkok, called New International School Thailand, or NIST. I was lucky, they had a great staff who were very supportive. NIST taught ‘pure’ MYP Science for Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 in a combined, inquiry driven manner.
Year 10 and Year 11 we taught the IGCSE’s (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) using, in theory, the MYP framework. All students sat for their IGCSE exams at the end of Year 11. That did not work so well. The philosophies of the Cambridge based IGCE’s and the International Baccaleaurate do not align particularly well. Essentially what happened is that the teachers all taught the IGCSE’s and paid lip service only to the MYP.
In theory, it should work, the IB MYP is a framework, IGCSE is a set of curriculum statements, so what is the problem ? Time, purely and simply time. The amount of knowledge that students have to rote learn for IGCSE’s means that there is no time left for inquiry based, student centred learning, you just cannot do it. A teacher is forced to move at a pace in order to ensure that the entire syllabus is covered, leaving no time for the essence of the MYP, no time for deeper understanding or exploration.
What are the major differences ?
IB MYP Science is a framework, the curriculum is up to the schools to develop (you can use the IGSCE as a starting point if you wish, jsut recognize that it is (nearly) impossible to cover all the learning statements.
IGCSE Sciences are a series of curriculum statements a school must cover.
IB MYP Science uses six criterion for assessment. (Criterion A: One World, Criterion B: Communication, Criterion C: Scientific Knowledge and Understanding, Criterion D: Scientific Inquiry, Criterion E: Data Analysis, and Criterion F : Scientific Attitudes)
IGCSE Sciences use a paper based exam for ~75% of the grade and a practical exam for the rest. (sometimes delivered as a paper based exam also, depending on the exam centre)
IB MYP Sciences also use backward by design as a means of planning their ‘Unit Plans’ which contain an Area of Interaction and Significant Question as means of providing real world context and interest to the content.
IGCE’s allow many teachers to avoid planning altogether and to just follow the statements and books day by day.*
*This is not to say all University of Cambridge Schools teaching the IGCSE’s do it exactly like this, but there is most certainly a large number that do, based on my observations and experiences.
In the end we dumped the IGCSE’s, turned out, after we gave students and parents a choice, that they realised that they didnt really need to sit the IGCSE’s anyway, they do not mean anything in today’s world, when most of our students go on to complete high schooling at year 12 (or Year 13, depending on the school).
NIST found that teaching a ‘pure’ MYP course much easier, more flexible and were able to deliver a much great focus on the student, the centre of our learning in IB MYP. Criterion based assessment allowed students to really focus on the learning, rather than just rote learning.