International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme Now Official at Two SUSD Schools

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 19, 2020) – It’s been three years in the making, but now it is official: Mountainside Middle School and Desert Mountain High School in the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) are International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme World Schools. The highly respected, academically rigorous global education program will be offered to SUSD’s Desert Mountain Learning Community sixth through 10th grade students.

The authorizations are the culmination of more than three years’ of intense work to align and implement the schools’ curricula to meet IB and state standards, and to provide the innovative professional development that is required to teach in the IB framework. The Middle Years Programme, or MYP, challenges students to make real-world, practical connections to their studies and feeds into Desert Mountain’s longstanding IB Diploma Programme, established in 1999 as an optional curriculum for its 11th and 12th grade students. The MYP at Desert Mountain replaces its Pre-IB offerings to 9th and 10th graders. All Mountainside students will take part in the MYP.

“I am so proud of our Mountainside and Desert Mountain teams,” says Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Dr. Milissa Sackos. “The time, energy and commitment that it takes for both teachers and students to pursue IB certification is tremendous. This is a great achievement and will continue to be a way that our schools and students differentiate themselves as among Arizona’s best.”

Mountainside undertook its transition to the MYP in 2017, and in 2018, began revising its course offerings, adding an extra class period to the school day and requiring students to take a world language, instead of its being an elective.

“We are truly doing what is best for students, and the pipeline of rigorous, relevant learning being created in this community is due to the absolute and total buy-in from our teachers,” says Mountainside Principal Adam Luke. “They are driven and dedicated to our students’ success.”

Having the Pre-IB infrastructure and the IB Diploma Programme already in place at Desert Mountain made her school’s transition to the MYP easier, and natural, says Dr. Lisa Hirsch, Desert Mountain principal.

“As our teachers became trained in the middle years approach, they were able to understand what kinds of new connections and integrated curriculum needed to fit into what we already had, and what we needed to convert in order to adopt the MYP’s holistic approach to teaching,” says Hirsch. “The work is so stimulating, and the possibilities for our students’ learning are enormous.”

Mountainside is one of nine Arizona public schools with middle grades (sixth, seventh and eighth) that are IB MYP World Schools. Desert Mountain is one of five Arizona high schools to be authorized as an MYP IB World School.

SUSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel says he is most grateful for the hard work the two schools’ MYP teams have taken on during the past three years. “The true winners in all of this will be the students. They will be the beneficiaries of a rigorous curriculum that will prepare them to be successful as they move through our system and on to the next challenges of life.”

Anasazi Elementary School, just up the street from Desert Mountain and Mountainside, and whose students matriculate into those schools, is pursuing IB’s Primary Years Programme (PYP) certification. Anasazi became an IB Candidate School in June 2019 and is already in the process of implementing the PYP curriculum. When that effort is successful, SUSD will offer a complete Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade IB learning track.

To learn more about the International Baccalaureate Programme at SUSD, visit

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