MYP: A teacher's guide

Paul Main

How can educators best deliver the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program?

What is the Middle Years Programme?

In recent years, IB has become one of the most popular international school programs worldwide. IB Middle Years Program (MYP) is an academic pathway designed specifically for students aged 15 to 18 years old. MYP offers three levels of study:

Diploma Programme (DP): Students complete two years of study leading to a diploma.

• International Baccalaureate Certificate (IBC): Students complete one year of study leading to an IBC.

• Extended Diploma Programme (EDP): Students complete two years leading to an EDP.

Students follow a common curriculum across all three programmes. This means that students learn the same content in the same order, regardless of whether they are studying DP, IBC or EDP.

This makes it easier for students to transfer between schools and universities after completing the programme.

There are four main components of the IB Middle Years Programme:

• Language Requirements: Students must pass a language test to enter the programme.

Theory of Knowledge: Students study a range of subjects such as mathematics, science, history, geography, economics, politics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, literature, music, art and technology.

• Personal Development: Students develop self-awareness, independence, global awareness, critical thinking and interpersonal effectiveness.

• Service Learning: Students engage in community service projects.

The IB Middle Years Programme is available in over 50 countries around the world. The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) is a challenging framework that encourages learners aged 11-16 to create practical connections between their education and real-world situations.

The Middle Years Programme is a 5-year programme, which can be executed using a coalition between schools, or in various other (2, 3 or 4 years) formats. After the completion of MYP, students are well-prepared to undertake the IB Career-related Programme (CP) or IB Diploma Programme (DP).


What is the curriculum for the Middle Years Programme?

The Middle Years Programme curriculum includes a range of subjects, offering balanced and broad instruction to early adolescents.

  • Language and Literature
  • Language acquisition
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences
  • Individuals and societies.
  • Art
  • Design
  • Physical and health education

In one year of the programme, a range of subjects must complete at least fifty hours of teaching time.

Every year, students in the Middle Years Programme also participate in at least one collaboratively planned unit for interdisciplinary learning involving at least 2 subject groups.

Middle Years Programme students also take part in a long-term project, in which they identify what they already know, decide what they wish to learn about real-world situations, find out what they must know to carry out the project and develop criteria or proposals for its completion.

In the last 2 years of the Middle Years programme qualification time, the flexibility of the subject group enables students to fulfil personal learning goals and local requirements.

MYP Science Projects
MYP Science Projects

What is Middle Years Programme approach to learning and teaching?

The Middle Years Programme intends to support students improve their understanding of concepts, intercultural understanding and their growing sense of self and duty as responsible citizens of their community. Students learn best when their learning involves unfamiliar real-world situations or their experiences of the real-world situations that they have faced. This type of approach offers students opportunities to develop critical thinking skills. As with all the international baccalaureate programs, children are encouraged to deepen their conceptual understanding instead of just trying to remember a set of facts.

Using international contexts, reflective learners in the Middle Years Programme develop an understanding of concepts of mutual humanity and shared guardianship of the planet by way of developmentally appropriate analyses of:

  • Cultural and personal expression;
  • Relationships and identities;
  • Orientations in time and space;
  • Technical and scientific innovation
  • Equality and development
  • Sustainability and globalization.

1. Conceptual Understanding

Students of the Middle Years Programme use their understanding of concepts as a way to inquire into ideas and issues of local, personal and global significance and evaluate knowledge holistically. The Middle Years Programme is a Universal Learning Programme prescribing 16 major interdisciplinary concepts along with relevant concepts for all the disciplines.

2. Approaches of learning

A uniform thread across all the Middle Years Programme subject groups, approaches to learning (ATL) encourage the application of students' language skills and knowledge in unfamiliar classroom contexts and offer the basis for independent learning. Creating and applying these research, thinking, social, communication, and self-management skills enables students to understand how to learn.

3. Service as action, by way of community service

Service as action is a crucial part of the programme, especially in the Middle Years Programme community project.

Service and action have always been shared values of the International Baccalaureate® community.

Independent learners apply their classroom learning to their actions. International Baccalaureate®  students strive to be caring community members who indicate a commitment to service—creating a positive impact on the lives of people and the environment.

4. Learning Diversity and Inclusion

In the Middle Years Programme curriculum, schools demonstrate differentiation within the assessed, taught and written curriculum.

5. Learning diversity and inclusion are exhibited in the unit planner and in the instruction, both of which are evaluated during programme approval and assessment.

The Middle Year Programme facilitates schools in meeting national, provincial or state legal requirements for pupils with access needs. Schools need to create an SEN or inclusion/special educational needs policy that clarifies curriculum modification, complex classroom accommodations and acceptable quality assessment access arrangements that fulfil the learning needs of each student in the positive school cultures.

6. STEM Education

The Middle Year Programme curriculum includes STEM as an important aspect, which allows students to confidently and creatively study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

MYP Key Concepts
MYP Key Concepts

Who is eligible for the Middle Years Programme?

The Middle Years Programme is a Universal Learning Programme taught in nearly 100 countries of the world and its students are present all across the world.

Any student aged 11 to 16, can access the Middle Years Programme at schools that have been approved to execute the programme. And, any school teaching students in this age range may apply to implement the Middle Years Programme and change into an IB World School.

The Middle Years Programme is inclusive in the structure; students with a wide range of academic abilities, nuanced understanding and varied interests can take advantage of their participation. Implementing the Middle Year Programme as a whole-school effort, although the MYP may include academically-selective models.

The MYP intends for developing students who are:

  • Internationally minded;
  • Active learners;
  • Have the basic understanding of skills and intellect to pursue lives of meaning and purpose;
  • Show empathy for others;

In broad terms, as part of the International Baccalaureate® continuum, the Middle Year Programme is meant to enable students to develop the traits of the IB learner profile.

It gives students the opportunity to:

  • Enhance their potential;
  • Take reasonable risks;
  • Discover their learning preferences;
  • Develop and reflect on, a great sense of personal identity.

In the educational years, when lifelong learners are building their self-esteem and establishing their identity, the Middle Year Programme encourage students and assist them in achieving success in the familiar or unfamiliar classroom and unfamiliar situations beyond school.

What resources are used by the Middle Year Programme schools?

To help support a better academic experience for students and teachers, the IB offers a wide range of resources for teachers in unfamiliar and familiar classroom situations in the Middle Years Programme.

Any school can get access to these valuable resources soon after becoming a candidate for approval as an IB World School.

These schools can purchase a large number of additional MYP publications for teachers and students and posters to be displayed in the classroom.

Additional knowledge about the middle-year programme and its effects are easily accessible in the IB Digital Toolkit and research web pages.

The IB provides many professional development opportunities, administered in-school, at regional events, online and more.

Develop conceptual understanding with our graphic organisers
Develop conceptual understanding with our graphic organisers

How are assessments conducted in the Middle Years Programme?

The IB employs both internal and e-assessment (optional external assessment) in the Middle Year Programme.

1. School-based Assessment

The assessment of the Middle Year Programme focuses on tasks designed and marked by those who are well-equipped to make decisions about student achievement. These tasks are complex and involve a wide range of assessment tasks.

The teachers in a Middle Year Programme, assess the prescribed objectives of a subject group utilizing the assessment criteria for the specific subject group in any specific year of the middle year programme.

2. External assessment

During the last year of the middle year programme, each student needs to put together a personal project, which is externally assessed by the IB. Developing extraordinary creative thinking and an extraordinary piece of work in extended hours of instruction demonstrates summative assessments of the student's proficiency to demonstrate extensive understanding and independent work.

At the same time, an international school may enrol for e-assessment (optional external assessment) in all other components of the programme. It gives students the chance to achieve a formal, globally acknowledged certificate if they secure understanding, show good-quality work and fulfil the success criteria.

After a middle school enrols for e-assessment in the Middle Year Programme, its students can close their gaps in understanding by developing their language skills and taking part in any of the following two kinds of examinations:

  • On-screen examinations, which last for 2 hours.
  • e-Portfolios of coursework, which includes a mandatory e-Portfolio for the individual project.

3. e-Assessment

The optional e-Portfolio course and the mandatory personal project works are subject to external moderation of internal marking of teachers. Trained IB examiners externally mark the on-screen examinations.

Assessment in the IB MYP
Assessment in the IB MYP

What is included in the IB assessment practices and principles?

The IB ensures that the assessment of candidates must be fair and meaningful.

Examiners, teachers and coordinators, parents/guardians and students; principal examiners and chief examiners provide an overview of the assessment process to analyze the good-quality work across the middle years programmes. Some of the most recognisable international schools utilise the international baccalaureate's middle years program, these include:

How has the Middle Years Programme changed?

Following are the features of the newly revised Middle Year Programme:

  • The new and revised Middle Years Programme includes a more explicitly concept-oriented curriculum that facilitates learning and teaching for basic understanding;
  • The programme involves global contexts to engage students with the basic understanding and ideas and issues of global, local and personal significance;
  • It develops approaches to learning skills for research, communication, critical thinking, collaboration and self-management.
  • It includes a community project as a way to demonstrate learning for students completing the middle years programme before a qualification time of 5 years.
  • It aligns more closely with the IB Career-related Certificate, IB Diploma Programme and IB Primary Years Programme.
  • It involves discretionary e-Assessments that may lead to the IB MYP course results and IB MYP certificate.