revised autumn 2022 Special Needs policy, IB assessment policy, Language policy
As an IB school we have a responsibility to deal with and manage learning diversities in the classroom and create access to the curriculum and academic standards for all our students, regardless of their individual abilities. We have a responsibility to cater to students with special educational needs through special assessment access. We achieve this with support in the classroom by optimizing both teaching and learning.
Our IB Diploma Programme is formed in accordance with both Sweden’s national laws concerning the inclusion of all students in education, as well as the IB Assessment Procedures, and we strive for coherence between the two school systems such that all students, regardless of intellectual, sociocultural, and emotional situation, may fully benefit from the education at the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).
SPECIAL ASSESSMENT ACCESS AND SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
Special Educational Needs (SEN) applies to students who have difficulties - physically, academically or psychologically - meeting the standard curriculum requirements. These students need special assessment and supporting them includes a varied approach to learning as well as teaching, e g support of a special needs teacher or the use of technical devices.
Torsbergsgymnasiet has elevators to all floors, fully accessible, classrooms and toilets. There are also visual enhancement tools as well as classrooms suited for students with a hearing impediment. Flexible dietary needs are also met.
Torsbergsgymnasiet has a school support team (Elevhälsovårdsteam/EHT) consisting of, amongst others, two counsellors, two special needs teachers, a nurse and a school physician. All students have access to these resources. They can get in touch with them on their own or with the help and support of their mentors within the IB programme.
There are always two form teachers assigned to each class (one male and one female if possible) and these are also the mentors of the students in the class, being responsible for the pastoral care of half the student group each. They meet once a term individually with their students and once a term the meeting also includes legal guardians. This means four meetings during the academic year; two mentor meetings and two with legal guardians included. Teachers can be reached through TEAMS (IT communication), e-mail as well as on their work phones. Thus, by keeping a close eye on their students, the form teachers are responsible for fostering the well-being of the students in their class. Students stay with the same classmates throughout their time at IBDP Torsbergsgymnasiet, which creates a secure, comfortable environment. Each class meets for a class meeting on a weekly basis, both for information from the teachers as well as for listening to new ideas or complaints from the students.
There is also a working student buddy system, which the IBDP Y2 students are mainly responsible for (part of their Group Service). This ensures that mixed groups are created, containing students from all three years (prep class, Y1 and Y2). These groups socialize on a regular basis and are meant to create bonds between the students in order to create a sense of security.
In bi-weekly meetings the IB teachers discuss their students; this includes updates on particular students and their special needs. These updates can concern anything from learning difficulties to students’ health issues. Everything that can affect the students’ well-being is of interest. We work closely with the school counsellors, school nurse and the special needs teachers with regular updates when needed. Torsbergsgymnasiet also has a Drug Policy document that is signed by both students and their legal guardians in September of their first academic year.
Students’ academic needs vary, whether they are high achievers or academically challenged. The IB teachers regularly evaluate the needs and goals of their students in close cooperation with their students and their legal guardians. Once the student turns 18 the student needs to give their consent for their legal guardian to be involved in the process.
High achievers are encouraged to stretch their limits, and the rigour of the IBDP is well suited for this. Subject (level) choices, focus on individual work, can provide the student with the challenges required for thriving.
Students who are in need of learning support receive help adjusted to their individual needs. The teachers teach bearing in mind varied approaches to teaching and also encourage the students to study using different learning styles. Dyslexic students work with special needs teachers, are granted additional time for written exams. The peer coaching system (linked to Individual Service / CAS) offers support when doing homework. Weekly sessions for extra Maths and language help are available for all students. This includes instruction and guidance in the use of subject specific computer programmes (e g Rosetta Stone).
The student-teacher, parent-student-teacher conferences once a term, bi-weekly staff meetings, together with an online failing warning system twice a year (with legal guardian access before the student turns 18, due to legal reasons), allow for close communication between the school, students and legal guardians.
The Swedish national system as well as the IBDP provide appropriate support and regulations for special assessment needs including both technical and personal support. This means that, if the standard IB examination would put a student at a disadvantage, forms of access arrangements are used. The assessment arrangements are in keeping with the student’s needs. It is the Diploma Programme Coordinator’s (DPC) duty to make sure that properly tailored assessment arrangements are put in use. Due to this, medical or psychological evaluation must be carried out in time for the IBDP at Torsbergsgymnasiet to be able to make adjustments needed for the student in question. During exams the student can be seated appropriately or use ear-plugs according to their needs without authorization from the IB. Other needs will be met after the DPC having contacted the IB Special Needs section.
The national system and an outline of our routines:
For the school’s national programme policy on special needs, please see:
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Students of the entire school, both IB and Swedish national programmes, are screened in the beginning of their first year, and needs reports from their previous schools are shared. The screening covers Swedish reading comprehension, English reading comprehension as well as mathematical ability. All students who are considered in need of a specialist teacher are given an offer to work with them. Access is thus opened to personnel and technical resources at a more focussed level. Students who are confident when using language and mathematical skills are more likely to be calculated risk-takers, exploring new ideas either individually or together with their peers.
A study strategy course held by IB staff is compulsory for all IB students in first term of their preparatory year. It remains available for those who need a brush-up in the diploma years through form teachers as well as the DPC.
The students in year one screened by the school nurse and called to an interview with the school counsellor.
Mentoring system and parent meetings.
Every student within the IB programme has a mentor throughout his/her three years at Torsbergsgymnasiet. The mentor liaises regularly with the student’s teachers and parents, and monitors the student’s academic progress as well as his/her life situation. Should the need arise, the mentor arranges access to a psychologist, a nurse, a medical Doctor and/or counsellors (aka the School Health Team). Individual Education Plans are formulated in consultation with these specialists, and approved by the Head of School.
Special education teachers
Torsbergsgymnasiet employs two special education teachers dedicated to meeting the wide variety of learning difficulties of our student clientele. Flexibility and functionality provide the fundaments for individualized strategies. The special needs education staff provide pedagogical coaching and support for our teaching staff, as well as running small learning groups for students. Student participation is voluntary.
Study strategies: course & the IB team
In addition to the aforementioned study strategy course and an active ATL focus, all instruction is planned and executed with a care taken to the varying needs and learning styles students have. Beyond normal course times and resources, students are offered special assistance and access to technical aids, predominantly for improving maths and language.
Toward the end of the first diploma year, a full year before examinations, the teachers impinge upon writing and reading skills used in exams. After consultation with the student and legal guardians, the coordinator determines whether to make a formal request for special examination accommodations (D2). This request requires supporting documentation of needs. Approval for any requested accommodation is made by the IBO.
It is important to note that any accommodation in examination procedure is meant only to compensate for the disadvantages stemming from learning difficulties that would prevent a student from indicating fairly his/her abilities in the examined subject.
Flow-chart description of the above process:
Teachers (subject & special needs): from former school to our special needs teacher who furthers it to teachers who need to know the information
Swedish reading comprehension to the student’s mentor and English reading comprehension as well as Mathematical ability
The school nurse screens for health issues.
Interview with school counsellor.
The student’s mentor meets with the student and his/her legal guardian/s (if under 18) and interviews them, lets them air concerns and also sums up the total of the initial screening (Sep during the preparatory year).
The IB staff meet every two weeks and discuss, amongst other things, students and their personal situation / school results.
A student learning strategy course is held by IB staff (both separately and implemented in subject lessons) during the student’s first months. It is revised, for those who need it, every autumn term.
Should problems arise, where student/legal guardian has expressed concern to mentor / staff or where staff expresses concern about a student and her/ his classroom strategies the stages are as follows:
Gathering of information
Mentor, student, guardians meet to address the issue/s of concern. The IBDP Coordinator is informed, indeed involved if deemed necessary.
The coordinator may then gather information from staff and documents the problem/s at hand, actions taken, evaluation date.
The coordinator meets with the teachers involved in order to discuss pedagogical strategies.
The Student Health Team
Should the above prove to be inadequate The Student Health Team (Elevhälsovårdsteamet / EHT) will be informed and decide what actions need to be taken. The coordinator gathers the feedback information and forwards it to those involved.
Head of School
If further action is required, the Head of School calls for a meeting with EHT and coordinator. Student and legal guardian are also present.
Decisions made at this meeting will be relayed, by the coordinator, to the involved teachers
The aim of this policy is to explain how assessment is performed and grades are awarded at the International Baccalaureate programme at Torsbergsgymnasiet.
Regular, continuous assessment is an important part of all teaching and learning. Assessment provides students, parents and teachers with feedback on how the student is learning, thus on the strengths and weaknesses of the individual student’s learning process; formative assessment. Furthermore it provides the information to students, parents and teachers regarding the student progress towards their final goal; summative assessment.
Assessment at Torsbergsgymnasiet’s DP aligns with that of the requirements of the IBDP. All assessment is criteria based and is based on the learning objectives. A variety of assessment types are in use and the students’ skills and competence are clearly defined. Prior to coursework commencing, before each area of study, teachers make sure the students understand the types of assessment and criteria on which these are based. Teachers ensure the students are thoroughly informed and that the legal guardians can access the information as well (via the school’s e-channels).
Assessment is done both formatively and summatively, as stated above. This includes varied approaches to teaching and learning, assessing them both formally and informally. Assessment is transparent to all stakeholders, clearly defined and criteria based. We allow students to demonstrate their skills and actively encourage our students to reflect on their learning process. The teacher helps the student to see their progress and their areas that need further improvement. This is done through evaluation that encapsulates self reflection and which is often done in combination with the evaluation of sections of the curriculum. ATL is a suitable planning tool as well as a tool for evaluation that can be used for this purpose. This way the teacher (i) lets the student reflect on their work, (ii) keeps the teacher’s plan of their teaching process as well as (iii) their curriculum and (iv) reflections in the same document. Teachers document their students’ learning process and the legal guardians are updated on a regular basis.
TYPES OF ASSESSMENT
Formative assessment guides the student so s/he becomes proficient in conducting self evaluation, thus being able to develop an understanding of personal learning techiques which is an essential learning skill. Formative assessment can consist of portfolios, presentations, homework, active participation in class, self-evaluation, peer response, as well as detailed subject guide assessment criteria. All of this also provides teachers with feedback for future planning and assessment.
Summative assessment, traditional assessment if you like, includes written examinations in all the IB subjects, oral examinations mainly in languages, both formal and informal written as well as oral student work. The quantity and requirements for summatively assessed work vary depending on the subject and the level of proficiency in the subject in question. In the preparatory year the students take standardized national tests in Swedish, English and Mathematics. The grades on these national tests are there in order to help the teacher assess the student at a correct level. During years 1 and 2 in the DP we use mock exams for this purpose as well as for the students to understand the level of knowledge they should reach in a more practical sense. Teaching the descriptors, assessment criteria doesn’t always provide the student with this insight.
Dates for submitting all assessments are planned by the IB team of teachers at the beginning of the academic year and there is a list of deadlines set to spread assessments evenly. This helps both teachers and students with their planning and workload.
FEEDBACK ON ASSIGNMENTS SUCH AS INTERNAL ASSESSMENT AND EXTENDED ESSAY
Drafts for assignments collected for formal formative assessment receive general teacher comments on a separate paper, and the teacher comments are only given in one round. If an entirely new topic is started, then new feedback may be given, provided the relevant deadline has been held. This concerns mainly Internal Assessments and Extended Essays as well as TOK essays. The procedure may be applied to other student work as well, depending on the subject teacher’s discretion.
Good standing status means:
* min. 80% attendance
* no missed deadlines (subjects, EE, TOK)
* Status Report with 20 points or more after IBY1
* satisfactory CAS progress
Being in good standing is a prerequisite for participating in excursions as well as registration for exams, and is a primary factor in being promoted to IBY2. Insufficient attendance, regardless of cause, leads to difficulty in evaluating a student’s progress, rendering both formative and summative assessment difficult. Determination of the students’ status is made continuously throughout the academic year at the bi-weekly IB staff meetings.
When a deadline has passed (first draft EE, or any final deadline for work that is formally assessed externally or internally), it is essential to transparency that the subject teacher issue a Deadline Notice to any student who has not submitted work, as well as give a copy of the notice to the student’s mentor and to the IBDP coordinator (DPC).
Any student who does not submit an Extended Essay draft in May (1500 words min.), thus not having communicated possible difficulties, will not be advanced automatically to IBY2, and will be called to a meeting with legal guardians and the DPC or Head of School. This is so that we can make sure that the student is not subject to learning difficulties that have not been detected and also so that the student may understand the importance of keeping deadlines and planning their workload. Submission of the final Extended Essay by the November deadline is a prerequisite for being registered for IB examinations.
Our strategy to encourage the meeting of deadlines is twofold—including on the one hand a greater communication regarding both progress and difficulties, as stated in the IB Learner Profile, and on the other hand to provide opportunities for catching up and regaining “good standing”.
Mock examinations are primarily summative and held to help assess a student’s progress, as well as to help teachers determine Status Reports (SR) at end of IBY1 and predicted grades (PG) in IBY2. In the final year (IBY2), they are held prior to the period of revision thus enabling the student and teacher to see clearly which areas of the subject need more focus than others.
Teachers keep a continuous record of their students’ progress and information regarding student progress can be found online by both students, form teachers, mentors and (until the student is 18) by legal guardians (’Unikum’). These records are kept clear and simple. Status reports are distributed to students in early June, at the end of the academic year DPY1 with an accessible copy available online. The scale used aligns with the IB grading and is 1 – 7 with +/- option. Progress in CAS, TOK, and EE are also covered (however, not A – E).
The IBDP grades range from 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest grade. The assessment descriptors differ from subject to subject and are communicated by the subject teacher in question and made available online throughout the course. The grades include internal (assessed by the subject teacher, e g orals in literature and language courses, historical investigations, lab reports) as well as external (mainly based on examination papers) grades. PGs are determined and submitted via IBIS in April of the final year, but are not communicated to students, except when necessary for international application procedures. Internal assessments are submitted with a representative sample of the student work marked by the IB teacher and moderated by the IB. Externally assessed examinations are mainly set in May during IBY2, however other components are undertaken by students over an extended period earlier during the academic year.
The student can achieve 45 points maximum; 6 subjects with a maximum of 7 points as well as a possibility of 3 extra points for TOK and EE in combination. All assessment components for each subject must be completed as well as the requirements for TOK, EE and CAS. The minimum score in order to achieve the diploma is 24 points. Additional information can be found in the Assessment Procedures.
TRANSFER CREDIT FOR STUDENTS WHO DON’T ACHIEVE THE DIPLOMA (SW. ’VALIDERING’)
Many IB subjects can be used to establish credit in courses in the Swedish national system as a large number of subjects in the national system are similar to or largely correspond to the IB syllabi. There is no automatic exchange formula, however, and the Swedish grade must be determined by the teacher, using available results from exams, mock exams, internally and externally assessed work as well as continuous formative assessment.
CLASS CONFERENCE AND OTHER FEEDBACK CHANNELS
The school schedule and structure for class conferences will be followed for the pre DP IB class, and also largely for the classes in their diploma years (IBY1 and IBY2). Also, a portion of the bi-weekly Monday staff meeting is dedicated to assessment updates. IB subject teachers who do not attend the staff meeting both provide input as well as receive feedback relevant to these updates. Feedback is also given to students by their mentor and/or the DPC, and will be continuously available online (Unikum) from Dec 2019.
An annual review of exam results as well as students’ evaluations in each subject are conducted as part of the school’s routines for ensuring quality at the beginning of the academic year.
LEGAL GUARDIANS AND THEIR INVOLVEMENT
It is our belief that engaged and supportive legal guardians are an important part of successful student learning. At the beginning of the academic year for the preparatory class all parents are invited to the school. They are provided with information about the school in general and the IB years in particular. Throughout the IBDP there are two parent-teacher-student meetings annually, both preceded by a mentor-student meeting. Teachers can be contacted via email and their work phone during school hours. If a student is struggling in a subject there is an F warning system. These warnings are typically issued by the subject teachers after mid-term and need to be signed by the form teacher, the student as well as the legal guardian. When the legal guardian takes part in a parent-student-legal guardian meeting the student’s academic achievements, strengths as well as weaknesses, are discussed along with other areas of the student’s well-being.
revised Aug 2022
IB students learn in at least two languages. This is not simply for communication, but enhances intercultural understanding and creates a holistic education. We aim for students to be able to express themselves with confidence in order to achieve collaboration and in order to gain multiple perspectives.
Pre-diploma candidates must study a foreign language, including Swedish for non-Swedish speakers (Sva), at their appropriate level. This is in line with our goals regarding internationalism.
Non-Swedish speakers receive information regarding the requirement of Sva for studies at Swedish universities. A document is signed during the pre Diploma year to the effect that they have received the aforementioned information. This, we believe, enables them to become more disciplined and principled learners.
English is the presumed language of instruction for all subjects other than some groups 1 and 2, also in the pre-diploma year. All teachers are considered language teachers in this context. Therefore support in the language of instruction should be provided on a continuous basis for teachers who are non-native speakers of English.
Exposure to the languages taught is encouraged through offers of field trips, summer programmes and international exchanges.
Ab initio and Language B options should be offered, in cooperation with the national programmes’ courses, where appropriate. The school has a structure which supports mother tongue instruction including self-study candidates where necessary (School Supported Self-Taught; SSST).
Current teaching and reference materials in relevant languages should be continuously replenished and updated, with a purpose. All school documents of relevance should be available in English.
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