International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme

International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP)

Birney is an authorized International Baccalaureate World School offering the prestigious IB Primary Years Programme. We are one of  five schools in the San Diego High IB Pathway and one of eight authorized schools offering the IB program to students in the San Diego Unified School District.

Originally designed to enable high school students living in different countries to earn a diploma recognizable by many universities around the world, the IB organization has become recognized as a high-quality program and curricular framework at all levels. The Middle Years (MYP) and Primary Years Program (PYP) were added in the 1990s, and the IB Career Programme (CP) is the latest addition to the successful programs offered by the IB worldwide. More  information on all four programs can be found at

In San Diego, the IB Diploma Program began in 1986 at San Diego High. Over the years, San Diego High International Studies (IS) has scored in the top 100 of U.S. high schools. The Middle Years Program (MYP) was then authorized at Roosevelt. It was easy to trace a route north along Park Boulevard from San Diego High to Roosevelt and then to Birney to see the natural progression to complete the SDUSD SD High IB pathway.

Why is IB PYP the theme for our school?

Birney is a unique and original community! The school has always believed in teaching the "whole child" instead of focusing strictly on academic skills.

We place great value on science and social studies, the arts, and physical education. We value providing students with learning inside and outside in a variety of environments. What's more, students at Birney are expected to develop independence, self-advocacy, agency, empathy and creativity.

When we were reinventing the school after a long period of over-enrollment and decline in achievement, the staff at the time wanted students to leave Birney with characteristics that we soon realized were similar to the IB Learner Profile. At the time, we had sufficient space to accommodate a magnet program due to the loss of sixth grade, the Cherokee Point building and declining enrollment.

We discussed the prospect of becoming an IB school at several faculty meetings. Community input was favorable, and we decided to move in the IB direction. We were selected as a new magnet and included in the 2008-2010 Magnet Schools Assistance Program federal grant, which allowed us to send our teachers to IB training all over the country.

For three years, we wrote curriculum for our six IB units per grade level, internalized the Learner Profile, and developed the language and assessment policies for the program. In December 2009, we were visited by the authorization team, and by April 2010, we were officially authorized by the IBO.

We have continued to improve our program through ongoing collaboration and reflection on the part of all stakeholders. Our staff work, both in grade-levels and as vertical teams, to align, review, reflect, and revise our curriculum. Our learning community is also involved in our ongoing reflection and commitment to continual improvement through participation in Family Fridays, School Site Council, English Learner Advisory Committee, and the Bee Keeper Alliance organization. Watch your inbox for invitations to review and comment on our policies, complete surveys, and participate in evaluation by the International Baccalaureate Organization every five years. We also welcome feedback on our program via email or face-to-face communication at the school site. 

Families are strongly encouraged to help support our award-winning IB program by attending events, sharing your voice, and getting involved in the parts of the program that interest you. Whether it's taking action to promote health and fitness through the running club, getting students outside by working with students in the garden, or helping readers hone their communication and research skills in the library, you are helping us to provide our award-winning balanced and inclusive International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program.

Who qualifies for the program?

Every single student at Birney participates in the school-wide PYP. There are no exceptions.

Our teachers are trained in differentiation of instruction as well as varied assessments in order to measure student progress as an IB learner. Classrooms are fully integrated, and teachers are well-prepared to address the needs of the most advanced learner as well as the most challenged. In addition to completing required IB training, Birney's teachers are also trained in GATE strategies.

All students benefit from the advantages of the Program of Inquiry as well as the enrichment activities provided through the magnet. However, students who are working towards proficiency in their academic grades may be required to participate in intervention instruction during enrichment classes to bring them to proficiency.

More about the IBO...

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