IB-PYP and STEAM Frequently Asked Questions

We know you have questions, and we respect your valuable time. This page answers many of the questions we most frequently hear. Of course, anytime you’d like to speak with a live person, you are more than welcome to come in or give us a call.


What is IB-PYP?

“The PYP prepares students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both within and beyond the classroom. It uses six trans-disciplinary themes to organize curricular content.” (IBO)

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What is STEAM?

Like the IB-PYP, it focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both within and beyond the classroom. At Valley Prep, two of the six IB-PYP themes will be STEAM-related (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). The content of these STEAM themes encourage collaboration and innovation.

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Why does Valley Prep plan to implement these programs?

The school was founded in 1957 with a philosophy of holistic education. Both IB-PYP and STEAM are holistic education models, thereby reinforcing the school’s mission and vision.

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What are the PYP trans-disciplinary themes?

The program includes six (broad-based) trans-disciplinary themes to organize the curriculum. At the heart of this approach is the belief that by “connecting” the various subjects together, students can further develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills. A couple of the themes are How the World Works and Where We Are in Place and Time. Each theme always provides a global perspective to encourage international mindedness and cultural understanding.

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Do you implement the PB-PYP and STEAM themes throughout every school day?

No, at least not for the next few years. The program teaches PYP trans-disciplinary themes throughout the year. At Valley Prep, two of these will be STEAM related. Presentation of each thematic unit can last for a few weeks or more than a month, depending on the content. During these units, the content of each subject/lesson is related to the selected theme. Valley Prep implemented two themes in 2016-17, four themes in 2017-18, and we'll implement all six themes in the 2018-19 school year.

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Can the school afford these programs without significantly raising tuition?

Yes. We are gradually implementing the International Baccalaureate – Primary Years Program (IB-PYP), which costs approximately $10,000. There is an annual membership fee of approximately $10,000 (not including teacher training). Valley Prep will purchase STEAM kits at an annual cost of approximately $20,000. These kits include lesson plans, resources, and teacher training. The costs have been added to our five-year budget. We anticipate annual tuition increases of approximately 3%.

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Will these programs change the current curriculum at Valley Prep?

No. Our written curriculum remains the same. PYP and STEAM give greater structure to an existing program but do not change the topics we teach in each subject (i.e. it does not change “what” students learn but rather alters “how” they learn).

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Do these programs change our accreditation status?

No. We will still be accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Within five years, we will apply to become an IB World School and become an official member of the world-wide network of more than 4000 schools.

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What if my child is entering Valley Prep from (or transferring to) a non IB-PYP school?

The IB-PYP program presents the same curricular content as students would learn in any school. It simply organizes the content thematically, thereby encouraging the development of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills (which would benefit any child who plans to attend any school).

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