Curriculum in the Upper School
The Middle School student is given a chance to explore and mature under the close supervision of teachers experienced in the needs of early adolescents. Students go to the classrooms of different academic disciplines for instruction. Core courses include English Language and Literature, Social Studies, Science, French, and Mathematics. In addition to the core subjects, Middle School students take three blocks of “exploratory” courses. These include: Art, Band, Information Technology, and Physical Education. A unique course, Quest, to address early teen academic, social, and behavior needs is offered to all middle school students.
Read about how our "Move to the Middle" program prepares rising sixth-graders for the transition.
The High School program of studies allows students to meet the requirements for obtaining a standard American High School diploma following the Carnegie system of credits used in the United States. Students enrolling after grade nine will be required to select courses appropriate for their grade and to complete any other required courses not already taken. Note: ISO does not allow mid-year graduation.
At the grade 11 and 12 level, students have the opportunity, over this two-year time-frame, to take up to eight Advanced Placement courses. This often results in the granting of sophomore status when attending universities in the United States. ISO provides special courses in Art, Drama, Music, Dance, Information Technology, Journalism, and Physical Education.
“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
― Nelson Mandela
See our Program of Upper School Studies
Upper School Grading Scale
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All students at ISO must enroll in a program leading to a U.S. High School Diploma attainable by the age of 20 years. A minimum of twenty-six (26) credits is required for a standard ISO diploma:
- English 4.0 credits
- Mathematics 4.0 credits
- Social Studies 3.0 credits
- Science 3.0 credits
- Foreign Language 3.0 credits
- Physical Education 2.0 credits
- Health 0.5 credit
- Arts 1.0 credit
- Senior Seminar 1.0 credit
- Electives 4.5 credits
Any course taken outside of school does not replace or modify ISO’s course load requirements. Correspondence courses approved by ISO will be accepted as a pre-requisite for a higher level course, but credit will not be awarded toward meeting ISO graduation requirements.
Certificate of Attendance
Students who have completed four years of High School attendance without obtaining the required number of credits or meeting course requirement may be permitted to participate in the graduation ceremony and may be issued a “Certificate of Attendance” upon the recommendation of the Director.
High School Class Load
A full time student at ISO must be enrolled in a minimum of six classes per semester, of which four must qualify as core courses each semester. Exceptions to this case load requirement must be approved by the counselor and the Director.
A core course is a course required for graduation; it is a normal homework course with a final assessment, which might be a written exam.
Grade nine and ten students typically take eight classes per semester while eleventh and twelfth grade students often take a reduced load of seven classes.
ISO has a transient population and small senior classes which make class ranking difficult and not as valid an indicator of comparative ability as in other school populations. The school, therefore, does not report the rank of its students, except when required or advantageous for college admissions.
Credit is awarded only at the end of each semester; partial credit for less than one semester cannot be permitted.
The partial-immersion class is for students who come to ISO with little or no knowledge of basic English. This program is designed to help them develop enough confidence to communicate and express their basic needs in English at school. The main goal is to improve language proficiency in everyday situations, or those aspects of language proficiency that emerge and become distinctive with formal schooling. Students use the English language to comprehend oral and written text and to learn new vocabulary and concepts.
This class runs for two consecutive quarters with students having the possibility to test-out at the end of the first one. After two quarters, the students will automatically join their respective Grade-level timetable and follow the ESOL class which will provide them with the skills to access the regular curriculum. Students in immersion join regular Math and PE classes.
General ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)
The ESOL course is for students whose native language is not English, who have already acquired basic skills but still need to improve their proficiency in English. This course focuses on the topics and concepts that will enable students to participate successfully in their content area classes. It is designed to help students to improve their listening, speaking, pronunciation and writing skills and to learn correct English grammar. It will also help students to improve their vocabulary knowledge and literacy skills.
The English language level of every non-native speaker will be evaluated by a norm-referenced test at the end of each semester (WIDA). The result of this test will determine if the student needs to continue the ESOL class or not.
Head of Modern Foreign Languages.
Student Initiated Class Withdrawals/Changes
There is a one-week period at the beginning of each semester during which students may withdraw or change from new classes only. This change may require the signatures of the teacher, counselor, and the parent. After this time, a student who leaves a class for any reason other than being misplaced will receive a “Withdrawn” for the semester on the official transcript as long as the student was passing the course at the time of the withdrawal. If the student is failing the course, a “W/Failure” will be entered on the transcript for the semester. All withdrawals from academic classes require signatures of the teacher, the counselor, and the parent.
Deadline for Enrollment Credit
Students in grades 9-12 who enroll at ISO after the first day of the fourth week of the first semester will not receive credit, unless the student is transferring into ISO from another North American curriculum school. Likewise no student will be admitted for credit after the first day of the fourth week of the second semester, unless the student is transferring into ISO from another North American curriculum school.
A student may repeat a class at the recommendation of his/her teacher and/or counselor. Credit is earned for the repeated class and both grades will appear on the transcript. A second credit earned through repeating a course will count as an elective credit and will not fulfill any of the minimum graduation requirements. A student may not take a course more than twice.
On occasion, students may wish to take special courses in which they are particularly interested or are in need of for one reason or another. Students are encouraged to explore such alternatives. These independent study programs can be pursued through such means as summer school or correspondence courses. ISO may recognize credit earned in such a manner. Only in exceptional cases will an independent study course be granted during the school day. The criteria include one or more of the following:
- Students in grade 11 and 12 who have completed all ISO course offerings in a subject area and wish to continue studies on a higher level.
- Transfer students who require a special program in order to meet graduation requirements;
- Students medically excused who need an independent study in lieu of a required course;
- Teacher recommendation; and
- A particular course can not fit into the student’s schedule.
In order to receive credit for independent study, the program must be approved in advance by the Director after receiving a syllabus (projects and due dates) signed by the student and his/her advisor.
Advanced Placement Enrollment
AP courses shall be open to all students on the same basis as other ISO courses, meaning that enrollment will be based on the student having passed the prerequisite courses. As with all courses, ISO teachers, counselor and Director will advise on course selection based on previous academic performance.
The teaching materials at ISO are current publications with most originating in the United States. All students are issued most, if not all, the educational materials required for their learning program. Exceptions to this would include physical education clothing, calculators, flash drives, pencils, pens, and notebooks for different subjects. All students are responsible for the proper care of their workbooks and textbooks. The workbooks are the students’ property, but textbooks must be returned, in good condition, to the school at the end of the school year or at the time of withdrawal. In case of loss or damage, replacement costs will be charged. Students will be expected to return the specific textbook assigned to them when books are collected.
High School students organize a Student Council each year. Student Council provides channels through which ideas for activities and concerns from students can be expressed. The Student Councils plan activities for the benefit and enjoyment of the ISO students and community. Some activities have included monthly hangouts, Spirit Week, talent shows, special fundraising, tournaments, and game nights.
Field trips can be an important part of learning. Allowing students to be involved in hands on experiences can take any abstract concept and bring it to life. ISO expects students to be involved in each learning opportunity as a chance to grow and explore both inside the classroom and out. Safe and secure excursions are planned keeping in mind the curriculum, student interest, and experience. These excursions can be based in observance and/or participation and are used to further understand concepts and skills. Permission slips are sent well in advance of each trip and contain information pertinent to the specific details for the student. Trips are appropriately supervised, and safe transport is provided.