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Midvale Journal

Midvale Middle School Awards International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program Certificates

Jun 10, 2016 08:17AM ● By Julie Slama

Former Midvale Middle School student Mikeina Yang accepts her certificate at last spring’s MYP ceremony. —Julie Slama

By Julie Slama  |  [email protected]

More than 160 Midvale Middle School eighth-grade students are expected to receive International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program certificates this spring, bringing the total to more than 825 students who have earned the honor since the school began awarding them four years ago.

On May 26, those eighth-grade students who have written reflective pieces and completed a Make a Difference project will be honored for their service, said Shelley Allen, Midvale Middle School MYP coordinator.

Last year, photos of each student and his or her Make a Difference project were projected on a screen as the student received a certificate and shook hands with the school’s administrators. 

MYP is designed to provide students with a challenging academic framework on their level that encourages them to embrace and understand connections between traditional subjects and the real world, and to become critical and reflective thinkers, Allen said.The program is designed so all students can participate, and there are different areas of consideration — gold, silver, bronze and service certificates, Allen said. 

For each certificate, students are required to complete service reflections. These responses, typically one page in length, are based on the service that students provide to their family, friends and community. The number of service reflections count toward the certificate level students receive, she said.

Another area is the subject area achievement score. This is based on the academic grades earned during the eighth-grade year at Midvale. Unlike traditional report cards with As, Bs and Cs, students earn points to show their mastery of the skills learned in each class, Allen said.

The third area is the Make a Different project. Students design their own project answering the question, “How will I make a difference?” and perform this act of service outside of class, Allen said. Projects have ranged from a blood drive to an educational platform on light pollution to tutoring students in math at the city library.

“The Make a Difference project is meant to be a culminating experience for students, where we hope that they will take the knowledge they have gained through MYP to make an impact in their community. It’s usually a bigger project where they are trying to make a difference such as organizing a food drive, making blankets for hospitals, helping with animal care at the Utah Humane Society or gathering clothing for those in need. We’ve had students realize the need within their own family and take on the responsibility during the school year to prepare meals for the evening as both parents are working,” Allen said.

To reach the gold-level certificate, students need to complete 14 or more service reflections, complete a Make a Difference Project with a high score and receive a high level of subject area achievement. 

“The subject area achievement is a score of 49 points or higher, which is mostly all As,” Allen said. “These are the highly motivated students who push themselves to perform on another level. About 70 percent of our students who earn the MYP certificate earn gold. It speaks to what we do here, our expectations and our students’ desire to succeed.” 

There are silver and bronze-level certificates, which have subject mastery levels similar to Bs and Cs, as well as the service certificate.

“It’s a way we can unify the school, where everyone helps in their community and they realize, ‘I can do this,’” she said. 

The MYP program also can help students establish a foundation for success in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, an academically rigorous program offered at Hillcrest High School in Midvale.

As part of the program’s evaluation, which comes about in 2017, Allen is looking into more ways to unite the school through MYP, and those ideas may transition with the renewal of the program.

Throughout its history at Midvale Middle, numbers show students have been consistent in earning the MYP certificates, with 234 certificates offered its first year to both eighth and ninth grades since both were transitioning to high school. The last two years had about 220 students earn the honor.