International Baccalaureate

International Baccalaureate* (IB) is a high-quality education program designed to develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. IB offers three levels of programming: primary years programme, middle years programme, and diploma programme. International Baccalaureate is an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning, where learning is directed by teacher and student questions. The focus is on the acquisition of knowledge, concepts, skills, and attitudes using the required State of Michigan benchmarks. [External LinkLearn more about IB]

The benefits of an IB programme are:

  • Emphasizes multicultural understanding
  • Brings national and international credibility to our schools
  • Promotes teacher communication within and between schools
  • Reinforces TCAPS' commitment to community, service and the impact of our actions on the world
  • Develops the habit of reflection on our actions and learning
  • Connects classroom learning to the world outside the classroom
  • External LinkLearn more about International Baccalaureate

Primary Years Programme (PYP)

The Primary Years Programme (PYP), designed for students ages 3-12, is an international program that focuses on the development of the whole child from an academic, social, physical, emotional and cultural perspective. The program challenges students to think globally and ponder how they and others interact with and affect the world around them. Students are immersed in service-learning, daily study in a second language and utilize an inquiry approach to learning.

Inquiry teaching and learning guides students in several long-term in-depth investigations that allow for posing research questions, producing projects that demonstrate what is learned, and connecting ideas to action in the school and community. Students learn to pose and solve problems about important topics within the curriculum. [PDF DocumentMore about PYP]

PYP Frequently Asked Questions

What does a PYP classroom look like?

  • Environment celebrates international mindedness
  • Evidence of second language development
  • Displays of student work and learning reflect IB Learner profiles and PYP themes
  • Culminating student learning exhibitions based on real-world issues
  • Video provided by External Link 

What is the Learner Profile?


Learner Profile - International Mindedness



  • Inquirers: I ask questions
  • Thinkers: I use my mind to consider ideas and make judgments
  • Communicators: I can express myself in many ways
  • Courageous (Risk-Taker): I am willing to take chances for greater success
  • Knowledgeable: I know a lot about many different things
  • Principled: I understand the difference between right and wrong and make good choices
  • Caring: I am compassionate and show concern for others
  • Open-minded: I am willing to listen and consider everyone’s point of view
  • Balanced: I have many interests. I work and play hard
  • Reflective: I think deeply about myself, my learning and others
  • PDF DocumentView Complete Learner Profile  




  • Student initiated demonstrations of deeper learning through service to fellow students, the school and community.
  • Students learn to choose appropriate actions to take, implement their own action plans and reflect on the process and results of their actions.
  • Self-initiated action is an authentic result of student learning in an IB school. 




  • Appreciation
  • Commitment
  • Confidence
  • Cooperation
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Empathy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Independence
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Tolerance


What is a Program of Inquiry?

A Program of Inquiry is WHAT the students learn; HOW they learn it; and WHEN they learn it. Michigan curriculum guidelines + IB approach = Program of Inquiry A Commitment to Inquiry Inquiry learning is the vehicle by which the essential elements of the Primary Years Programme are presented to students. Inquiry learning: builds on students’ background knowledge and previous experiences, honors students’ questions, and empowers students to uncover new understandings.

What essential skills do students apply with their learning?

Throughout the programme, students acquire and apply a set of skills that support learning across subject areas, both inside the classroom and outside of school. These skills are: social skills, communications skills, thinking skills, research skills and self-management skills. [PDF DocumentMore About Essential Skills] 

What key concepts are used to deepen & broaden student understanding?

The key concepts of PYP provide students a way of thinking and learning about the world and encourage further questioning. This concept-driven approach takes learning beyond memorization and basic skills and allows students to understand significant ideas and construct their own meaning. These big ideas which deepen and broaden student understanding beyond knowledge of isolated facts are often posed as questions. [PDF DocumentMore About Key Concepts]

  • Form: What is it like?
  • Function: How does it work?
  • Causation: Why is it like this?
  • Change: How is it changing?
  • Connection: How is it connected to other things?
  • Perspective: What are the different points of view?
  • Responsibility: What is my/our responsibility?
  • Reflection: How do we know?

What global themes guide in-depth learning & help students make connections?

The learning of traditional subjects like math, science, English language arts, and music is enhanced through the IB method of curriculum delivery. All subjects are taught within a framework of global significance or "units of inquiry" which guide the learning process. Students are encouraged to constantly ask questions, investigate and identify connections between subjects. Each day, students are asked to think about the following themes to help guide in-depth learning in the Primary Years Programme:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organize ourselves
  • Sharing the planet


*Traverse Heights Elementary School is a candidate school** for the Primary Years Programme. This school is pursuing authorization as an IB World School. IB World Schools share a common philosophy—a commitment to improve the teaching and learning of a diverse and inclusive community of students by delivering challenging, high quality, programmes of international education that share a powerful vision.

**Only schools authorized by the IB Organization can offer any of its three academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), or the Diploma Programme (and in addition, the IB Career-related Certificate). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted. For further information about the IB and its programmes, visit External Link