FAQ International Middle School

How is the IMS structured for grades 5-8?
  • 5th grade is a transition year introducing the IB Learner Profile, eight subject areas, and an advisory period.
  • Each grade will have an advisory (homeroom) teacher that will accommodate students’ approaches to learning, field trips and academic support. Advisory teachers are liaisons between students, subject teachers and parents.
  • Most subjects have four units; each unit contains formative and summative assessments.
  • Students are assessed using subject specific assessment criterions.
What is the main difference between the Middle Years Program (MYP) and the Primary Years Program (PYP)?
Please click here for a comparison chart.
How will Grade 5 students be supported for success in Middle School?
  • There is an orientation at the beginning of the school year that is dedicated to organization, team building, internet safety and introducing IMS policies and procedures.
  • There are weekly advisory lessons for student support.
  • Teachers collaborate regularly with one another to support students throughout the process of change.
  • We will focus on involving the parents in the MYP Years (potlucks, coffee meetings, workshops).
  • A Special Support and/or Academic Support Teacher will be incorporated as needed.
  • The Service as Action requirement will be adapted by grade level in the MYP Years (10 hours in Grade 5).
  • Students will be introduced to online communication platforms (ManageBac, Google Classroom and Gmail). This will be used for communication about formative and summative tasks, grades, and school events.
What are the tasks of an Advisory/Homeroom Teacher?
  • Each grade will have an advisory (homeroom) teacher that will accommodate students’ approaches to learning and academic support. Advisory teachers are liaisons between students, subject teachers and parents.
  • Advisory teachers will help organize and attend all field trips.
  • Advisory teachers will meet every Monday morning with students to address a wide range of topics including but not limited to: social/emotional lessons, organization, planning, conferences, team building activities, and review of ManageBac and IMS policies/procedures.
  • This teacher will be the student’s and parent’s main contact person.
When will Advisory/Homeroom Teachers and class schedules be announced?

The homeroom teacher and classroom schedules will be announced in early August.

When will I get more information about the class organization?

In early August, parents receive a Welcome Letter via email including the following: 

  • Supply List
  • Class Schedule
  • Advisory Teacher Assignment
  • Information about the IMS “Arena Check-In” Orientation Days
  • List of IMS Teachers and Information Background/Experiences (most can now be found on the GAIS Website)
How does IMS facilitate organization and time management?


  • All students are assigned a locker.
  • Students will be assigned a location for jackets, backpacks, and lunches.
  • Students will be taught to use a Pendaflex organizer to keep their worksheets organized.
  • Students will provided a daily planner.

Time Management

  • Most summative assessment tasks will be completed during the lessons.
What language of instruction is used in each class?

For an overview please click here: Multiple Language Track

What are the options in choosing electives?

In Grades 5 & 6, students must choose one performing art elective: music or drama AND one visual art elective: design tech or 2D-3D art.

In Grades 7 & 8,  students can choose to specialize in any elective.

When is the deadline to choose electives and or course options?

Electives and course options must be selected by the end of May for the following school year.

How successful are IMS students in transitioning into High School?
  • Regardless of the chosen language of instruction, all students successfully transition into U.S. and International High School systems.
  • Students are often placed in advanced level courses in high school.
  • We have heard from alumni that the course content in their freshman year in high school is largely a repeat of their Grade 8 experience in IMS, suggesting IMS students are over-prepared for high school.
What are homework expectations?

As a daily average, students should not do more than:

  • Grade 5                          45 minutes
  • Grade 6                          60 minutes
  • Grade 7                          75 minutes
  • Grade 8                          90 minutes
  • Students should spend time every day reading.
  • Homework assignments will be recorded in the classroom.
  • Students should use their student planner and it is their responsibility to record all homework assignments in this book.
  • No homework will be given on the weekend (assignments given on Friday and due on Monday) although students may need to work on long-term assignments over the weekend.
  • Parents should ask students or check on ManageBac about long-term assignments to help them manage their time, so that they don’t feel overwhelmed the day before a summative assessment is due.
  • Students requiring extra support may be accommodated with lighter homework.
Will the students need a laptop?
  • Students will not be required to purchase a laptop.
  • On-line research/technology-based projects will be completed using classroom computers.
  • Students will lease iPads from the school for educational purposes.
  • MacBook Airs are provided for on campus use for Grade 5 and Design Tech only.
How many hours will parents and students need to spend at the computer?
  • Computer use will be limited in 5th grade as this is viewed as a transition year.
  • Most computer-based projects will be completed in the lessons; however, students may need to complete some computer-based activities at home.
  • Students and parents will have access to ManageBac for student progress, academic calendar, and other related material. ManageBac should be accessed weekly.
Will students need to learn an instrument? What type of instrument?
  • In grades 5-8, music is an elective. If a student selects music, they have the option to learn to play an instrument. Students may choose from one of the following instruments:
    • flute
    • clarinet
    • saxophone (alto or tenor)
    • trumpet
    • trombone
    • baritone
    • percussion
  • Extra focus on instrumental play can be achieved through joining the IMS Bands that are offered as part of the After School Extra-Curricular Program.
How many hours for Service as Action are required?
  • The hourly requirements is 10 hours for all grades. Service as Action is a requirement to help students to be involved in the greater community through voluntary service.
  • A step-by-step guide detailing the Service as Action process is available to parents and students on ManageBac.
How will the entry of students from other school systems affect the lessons (such as students working at different levels)?

Every IMS teachers will work to meet the needs of the students using differentiation, a process in which all students receive lessons/instruction based on their particular level of skills and ability. This is most commonly seen in Math and Language courses.

How do IMS students perform in external assessments (ISA, ISEE, CPT4)?
  • IMS students’ CTP4 (English & Math) and ISEE results had an average above the 90th percentile.
  • Students have completed the International Student Assessment (ISA) from Grades 3-8. The ISA assessment program is designed especially for students in international schools in Grades 3-10. It is based on internationally endorsed reading and mathematical literacy frameworks. Further explanation is available at http://www.acer.edu.au/tests/isa.
  • For the 2012-2013 academic school year, our IMS students in 6th grade had a mean score of 492 compared to the international average score of 459 in mathematics.
  • ISA Reading Scores for the 2012-2013 school year were a mean of 462 compared to the international average of 397.
  • ISA Writing Scores were a mean of 533 compared to the international average of 473.
  • In ISA Expository Writing, students scored 489 compared to the average of 489.
What is the Math Curriculum? How does it compare to CA Standards? Are IMS graduates prepared for math in high school?
  • Our timeline in Math is different from the California standards. We spend more time exploring number sense and arithmetic before we continue with Pre-Algebra, Geometry or Algebra I. Our timeline builds a strong foundation that allows students to apply the concepts in a variety of contexts.
  • We are using an international textbook from an Australian publisher (Haese & Harris), which complies with our IB standards. http://www.haesemathematics.com.au/book.asp?book=ibmyp1
  • The school is providing an integrated Math Extension Track for advanced students. The selection process is conducted during the first quarter of the school year and will be clearly defined at that point.
  • By Grade 8 our students will have proficiency in the entire mathematics framework that conforms to California, German and IB standards and results in successful high school transition.
  • Our track record confirms that all our Grade 8 students are well prepared for Math in high school. Usually our students are placed in Algebra I Advanced or higher. Recently, some students were placed in Algebra II Honors.
What is the English Curriculum? How does it compare to CA Standards, textbooks etc.?
  • Students are tested on writing/grammar, reading, and expository writing.
  • In English we focus on reading comprehension, listening comprehension, written and oral communication, and media literacy in all the grades.
  • In the upper grades, the focus is more on essays and a balanced literacy program, which includes a rigorous reading comprehension component with focus on critical thinking skills.
  • We are using the textbooks that are used in most public and private schools in the area.
What is the Science Curriculum? How does it compare to CA Standards?
  • As in Math, we are looking through three curriculum lenses, which include California, German and IB standards. Some of the concepts are overlapping.
  • While California only covers life and earth science, the IB and Germany require enriching the curriculum with a deeper understanding of Physics, Biology and Chemistry. The earth science component is covered in Humanities (Geography).
  • Grade 5 and Grade 6 focuses on an introduction to biology and chemistry.
  • Grade 7 focuses on concepts such as acoustics, optics and mechanics. Moreover, we cover the entire range of development and sexuality topics.
  • In Grade 8 focuses on thermodynamics, electricity and chemical reactions.
How is MYP different from the California public school curriculum?
  • “The MYP is a coherent and comprehensive curriculum framework that provides academic challenge and develops the life skills appropriate to this age group. As part of the IB’s continuum of international education, the MYP naturally follows the Primary Years Program (PYP) and can serve as an excellent preparation for the Diploma Program (DP). The MYP fundamental concepts of holistic learning, intercultural awareness, and communication provide a broad and balanced educational experience, educate the whole child, and promote understanding and respect for all cultures, valuing multiple forms of expression.”  –MYP Principles into Practice, 2008.
  • Discussion about California State Standards and Middle School Requirements can be found by accessing the following link: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/mg/faq.asp – quest3