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Any thoughts on the planned 2019 changes to IB DP Mathematics?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by tesolmath, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. tesolmath

    tesolmath New commenter


    Apparently I have chosen an interesting time to attempt to transition to IB DP Mathematics. Please pardon me if I am asking a question that has been raised previously. Googling around I today stumbled on the blog entry at the link below which outlines planned changes to IB DP Mathematics commencing in 2019:


    Any thoughts you fellow professionals choose to share would be most appreciated. Would I do better to try to qualify and enter IB in MYP given the changes planned?

    Kind Regards,

  2. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Where to begin...

    It shouldn't really affect you as a new entrant to IB teaching. It has much greater implications for departments, staffing and student choices.

    The move away from Mathematical Studies puts the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons. It has been posited that SL: Applications will become the new "studies" but there is no evidence for that nor is there any suggestion that one SL or HL course is easier than the other. So, what happens to the Studies type students and what happens at HL when student start applications but the universities say it is not rigorous enough?

    My personal opinion is that this has been handled incredibly poorly by the IB. The syllabus details should have been out last year to give schools time to take the changes on board and change their pre-Bac programmes to reflect the changes in the syllabus. Instead, we get a really amateurish effort at listing the new syllabus.
  3. lunarita

    lunarita Senior commenter

    I had a quick look at this yesterday after seeing the OP. (I have never done IB maths and wasn't aware of these changes.)

    I was left a little confused by their 'explanations' as so how students should choose the between the 'applications' course and the other and as to the degree of overlap - if any - between them. Students getting to age 16 are often clear that they like the maths/physics side of things but haven't decided whether they prefer maths or physics yet which, as far as I can see, may determine their choice. How on earth do we advise them?

    And @Karvol I hadn't even thought about staffing. Presumably they can't be taught in the same class at the same time - will this mean an increase in the demand for IB maths teachers? Or will schools just end up opting for one or the other course and not giving students a choice?
  4. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter


    The SL is a subset of the HL, so one could have both HL and SL in the same class. However that is hardly an ideal situation. There are commonalities between the Analysis and Applications options, so they could also be conceivably taught together, but it is hardly ideal as one is predicated on a calculator being present for paper 1 and the other isn't.

    So let's say that a school decides that everybody takes the SL course together and the HL students take an extra lesson or two a week to get the extra bits of their syllabus done. Hmm, does this mean that the students take part of the HL syllabus without necessarily having adequately covered the SL bits?

    The biggest issue schools will face with staffing is that students will be able to choose their teachers. Unless a school offers just the analytical or applications streams, a student could easily switch classes to a more favoured teacher by insisting that the the other stream is vital for university.
  5. lunarita

    lunarita Senior commenter

    Yes, what I meant was actually the two flavours of Maths in the same class, not the SL/HL. I've since had a closer look and read a brief outline of the specs and realised that what I skim read as 'Engineering courses' for the applications version actually says 'SOME Engineering courses' so I realise that firstly theres NO WAY the two could be taught together and secondly that real maths/physics/engineerings students would have to opt for the analysis version.

    I hadn't thought of that, but given that maths is SO important for scientists and engineers I think schools would have to be really strict about this. With A-levels it'd be easy - if you're doing Phys or Chem you MUST do analytical - if your going another route you can choose applications. But the broad nature of the IB might make this more difficult. In the end we'll ahve to trust the students to make the correct decisions knowing that Applications won't be as impressive as analytical if they're hoping to something maths orientated at Uni.

    As for SL/HL in the same class, i've had to do that in Physics before. it's far from ideal and takes a bit of juggling, especially at first, because of course most of the HL only stuff depends on having covered SL material first.
    I imagine that in maths it must be at least as difficult, if not worse, to combine the two but in smaller schools it's been happening for a while.

    I'm still left thinking that unless schools take on more teachers, it's going to be very difficult to run the two courses together unless the time is expected to come from the fact that the former Maths Studies people are now part of one of the other classes.

    I don't think I'd particularly relish the challenge of setting this up for its first year......
  6. lunarita

    lunarita Senior commenter

    Just a thought ..., could teachers prevent this by sharing the teaching of both? ie for X weeks I'll teach unit 1 to analutical and you teach Unit 1 to Applications, then we swop to do Unit 2? I don't sharing classes like that under normal circumstances but if choosing teachers rather than subject is going to be a problem it might be one way round it.
  7. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    I really don't think that will work. Personally, I am not a big fan of splitting classes between teachers as, in my experience, it inevitably leads to one teacher being seen as the weaker link. There is also a lack of continuity in the teaching of topics. Both HL and SL should, in my opinion, be seen as a continuum of topics, and this continuum is lost if they are taught as compendium of discrete topics.

    I have had classes that have been split between two teachers but it has generally been in the old modular A Level, so not really problematic. Wtih the IB, unless financial reasons dictate it, I cannot see of a reason where having a class split between two teachers would make pedagogical sense. That may be down to my own experiences, which are certainly not representative of the majority of schools, though.
  8. karel

    karel Occasional commenter

    As Karvol says the information from the IB is very late in coming out, abc on looking at the latest curriculum review document it even says at the bottom that this is not guaranteed to be the exact content! Also the subject specific seminars for the new courses aren’t being held until January I believe, so we probably won’t know anything much more until then. It is the case though that course detail has already been passed into textbook people, so they know more than we do right now presumably.
    So, it’s next years grade 10 ( year 11) that are first to be taught the new courses. Knowing whether we should change our current Programme in some way, how to manage these courses and how to advice student choice are all things that need to be considered. None of which we’ve really been able to do so far. Regarding managing/running the courses, on asking fellow maths teachers in other schoolsh most are likely to initially offer the three courses that are closest to the three that we currently have. Otherwise there are staffing implications, if all 4 courses are being offered separately. Some administrators will no doubt think it a good idea to combine SL/HL courses and the IB even state this as a possibility to put maths in line with the other courses, having SL as a subset of HL. I can’t think of any maths teacher that would think this to be a good idea though. One rationale mentioned for these changes is to make HL accessible to more students. Will the HL applications courses be accessible to students that wouldn’t other take the current HL course? And will the universities recognize it equally? We won’t know how the universities are going to regard each of the courses prior to us advising our students on which course to take. So there is a lot to think about, interesting tunes ahead. Oh, and then there is the new assessment model to look forward too!
  9. karel

    karel Occasional commenter

    Apologies for the typos in my previous message! Typing on my phone is the excuse.
  10. zinco

    zinco New commenter

    Agree with the comments about the lack of time to change pre-IB courses to better suit the new courses.
    Also, the fact that there is no clear university or country-specific advice yet means that schools don't know what to advise students yet.
    I really like the idea of the HL applications course, just not quite sure how many schools will offer it in the first year because of the danger that universities won't accept it.
  11. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    What do you mean by this?
  12. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Different countries have different requirements when it comes to maths levels for university acceptence.

    For instance, Maths Studies will automatically bar you from entrance to the vast majority of German or Swiss universities. If the Maths levels are not considered the same by universities, then advising students who wish to attend university in a particular country becomes difficult. Are SL Analysis and Applications the same for all universities? Will HL Applications be considered good enough to go on to study Maths at a competitive university?

    At this stage, we don't know but will say a qualified yes. Will it still be the same answer in two or three years time? Will we know the answer before students have started on their courses?

    As I mentioned before, a textbook case in amateurism by the IB.
    nemo. likes this.
  13. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Ahh, its for university. I thought they wanted each country to have clarification from the IB.

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