Offering Additional Opportunities to Students Seeking More Challenge

April 4th, 2018

TASIS Offering Additional Opportunities to Students Seeking More Challenge

 
 

 

The academic program at TASIS is designed to challenge all students—with most High School students choosing to either pursue an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or take a variety of Advanced Placement (AP) courses—and both anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that it does just that. High-achieving recent graduates have repeatedly stated that they believe their time at TASIS prepared them well for the academic rigors of college, students have consistently performed well on IB and AP exams, and the School’s combination of a strong curriculum, outstanding faculty, and highly international student body—what college admissions officers have come to regard as the “TASIS advantage”—has enabled students to gain admission to 391 universities and colleges in 20 nations over the past five years. (See a thorough analysis of the School’s college admissions track record here, a summary of the 2017 results here, and a comprehensive list of acceptances from the past five years here.)

This is not to suggest that the TASIS curriculum is perfect, for no amount of success will prevent the School from looking to make incremental improvements to the academic program as need dictates. One such topic recently discussed by the TASIS Administration and Academic Committee is how to provide additional opportunities for ambitious students who demonstrate they are ready and willing to take on even more academic challenge. With that goal in mind, the High School would like to announce that the following options are, or soon will be, available to students.

The World Literature Honors class travels to Florence for Academic Travel each fall.

Honors Literature course added to 9th-grade curriculum

The demanding IB Diploma Program does not start until grade 11, and students who wish to take AP courses typically do not begin doing so until grade 11 (though some take one or two in grade 10). In an effort to offer a highly challenging English Literature course to underclassmen, Dr. Christopher Love, Chairman of the English Department (grades 6–12), introduced a World Literature Honors course for 10th-grade students in 2014, and beginning in the fall of 2018, the Department will add an Honors Literature course for students in grade 9.

The 10th-Grade World Literature Honors course pushes exceptional students of literature to engage with challenging poems, plays, epics, essays, and prose fiction while they receive high-level instruction in writing and textual analysis. Dr. Love is pleased with the results he’s seen over the past four years.

“Not only has it given curious, hard-working, and talented students the opportunity to read major epics and novels such as Dante’s Inferno, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Honors World Literature has provided a safe space for vibrant and involved discussion, as well as the opportunity to improve on writing skills required by the AP and IB programs,” said Dr. Love, who will also teach the new 9th-grade class. “I have watched with great pride as former Honors World Literature students have gone on to thrive in these programs.”

In the new 9th-Grade Honors Literature course, students will embark on major literary adventures while preparing vigorously for AP and IB classes to come. Seeking to understand the epic, philosophical, and literary foundations for study in grades 10–12, the class will examine Homer, Plato, and Shakespeare, among other texts.

“I have come to the conclusion that it would be of great benefit to offer these same curious and talented students a similar opportunity in 9th grade,” said Dr. Love, who began laying the groundwork for a 9th-grade Honors class two years ago. “While grappling earlier with literary, philosophical, and cultural forms and ideas provides a solid foundation for further study, 9th-grade Honors students will also accelerate their study of IB- and AP-level writing skills.”

Students wishing to take 9th-Grade Honors Literature must first demonstrate that they are up to the challenge. They will be selected on the basis of GPA (a B+ or above), of official recommendation from 8th-grade English teachers, and of an in-class essay reviewed by the High School English Department.

Dr. Love, who also founded a Dante Club two years ago for students who were inspired enough reading Dante’s Inferno in Honors World Literature to continue their journey to Purgatory and Paradise, believes it is the English Department’s duty to find novel ways to challenge the intellects of its most curious and driven students. The Dante Club meets over croissants one morning each month to discuss individual Cantos from the Divine Comedy. “It is thrilling to see a group of students volunteer their time to pursue a reading adventure as challenging and enriching as Dante’s masterpiece,” he said.

Questions about the Honors Literature program at TASIS can be directed to Dr. Love at chris.love@tasis.ch.

Preparation offered for both AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics exams

The AP Economics course at TASIS operates on a two-year rotating basis between College Board's AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics offerings. This year's AP Economics course at TASIS is designed to prepare students for the AP Microeconomics exam, and the primary focus of the course is, according to the College Board, “to give students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to the functions of individual decision-makers, both consumers and producers, within the economic system.” But what AP Economics teacher Mr. Eric White has discovered in class this year is that a handful of 12th-grade students want to take on the challenge of also studying macroeconomics—the branch of the social science that is concerned with large-scale or general economic factors, such as interest rates and national productivity—with an eye toward taking both the AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics exams this spring.

Six students expressed the desire to take on this additional challenge, and Mr. White has accommodated their wishes by agreeing to offer 21 extra class sessions before the AP Macroeconomics exam in May. These sessions are offered two times per week during Mr. White's "open" H period, and he also invites available students to sit in on his Year 1 IB Economics class, which is currently covering macroeconomics as well.

“These students have clearly demonstrated the willingness and ability to prepare for both exams,” said Mr. White, who is a College Board grader for the AP Macroeconomics exam and came to TASIS this fall after spending the past 12 years teaching AP Economics, AP World History, AP US History, and a host of other social-studies classes in public and private schools in the United States and in Trinidad and Tobago. “It is a pleasure to work with them, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure they are ready when they sit for their exams in May.”

TASIS will offer AP Macroeconomics next year as part of the two-year cycle, but Mr. White remains open to the idea of offering AP Microeconomics to 12th-graders who are joining AP Economics for the first time.

"Our students have a lot of different backgrounds,” he said. “Some want to try an AP class for the first time, and some know that economics or business is what they want to do for the rest of their lives. With our two-year cycle of AP courses, we expect success for all who sit for the May exams. However, for those who haven't had time in their schedules to fit both a stand-alone microeconomics and macroeconomics course, I want to know I did what I could to accommodate all motivated students to make the most of their TASIS economics experience."

Do you have questions about economics offerings at TASIS? Feel free to send Mr. White an email: eric.white@tasis.ch.

 

AP math and science classes get a boost

In an ongoing effort to strengthen the School’s IB Diploma Program, last year the TASIS Academic Committee determined that, beginning in the fall of 2017, all higher-level (HL) IB courses would add a fifth class each week to ensure that students in these demanding courses receive more than the recommended 240 hours of instruction over the two-year course of study. The High School will now take a similar action with AP Biology and AP Calculus AB, each of which will meet five times per week (rather than four) starting next fall. AP Chemistry will also be added to the School’s course offerings and will have five contacts per week.

“Our most important school resource is time, which is in perpetually short supply, especially with our advanced classes,” said AP Coordinator Mr. Peter Locke. “These scheduling adjustments will provide additional time for our AP students to be successful in these challenging, content-rich courses. I'm hopeful these changes will have a significantly positive impact on the experience of AP students and their teachers.”

Please address questions about the TASIS Advanced Placement Program to Mr. Locke at peter.locke@tasis.ch.

Academics at TASIS

• Academic Profile
• High School Course Offerings
• Middle School Course Offerings
• Elementary School Curriculum