Giaudrone Middle School

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​The International Baccalaureate program raises the bar for these middle school students

Take ice cubes and rub them on the outside of a bottle filled with water. Condensation forms inside. Why?

Eighth-grade science teacher Tim Neuberger poses this question to his students after they complete several hands-on investigations into the water cycle.

​Science teacher Tim Neuberger develops IB traits in his students.
​ ​​​"I want you to think deeper about what happened,” he said. “Think about light energy, changes in temperature and describe how this investigation connects to the water cycle.” A slide lists “IB Trait: Reflective” on the Smartboard behind him. 

Creating time for reflection plays a key role in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program at Giaudrone. The internationally respected program encourages students to develop 10 learning traits, including reflective, inquiring, caring and knowledgeable. 

IB initially started in the 1960s for the children of diplomats. Now schools in 143 countries offer the prestigious program, which emphasizes understanding world connections and solving real-life problems. 

“IB teaches students how to be lifelong students and teaches character, which gives it a leg up on other educational models,” Principal Billy Harris said. “Talking about caring with middle school students is important.” 

Raising the bar 

Giaudrone successfully completed the rigorous, multi-year application process for IB authorization in 2015, an outstanding testament to its strong program. 

To meet IB requirements, staff shifted to a block schedule where classes meet for extended periods of time, allowing for longer, concentrated time with each subject. The schedule provides every student instruction in eight core subject areas, including a foreign language. Each student participates in at least one interdisciplinary project each year.

​Giaudrone student Sohnyae Alaniz practices math on a Smartboard.
​ ​​​​​​​​​Giaudrone adopted the innovative IB approach during a spate of changes in 2010, after it and three other Tacoma schools received federal School Improvement Grant funds for improving student test scores. 

Since then, student achievement skyrocketed: Giaudrone students moved from the bottom 5th percentile on the state index measuring achievement scores​ in 2010 to the top 85th percentile for middle schools in 2015. 

Giaudrone ranks second best on state assessments out of all Washington middle schools where at least 70 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. 

Preparing for global opportunities

The IB international focus helps prepare students for high school, college and careers. 

In the college-preparatory class AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), teacher Kat Appleby asked her students to pick a current events topic for an IB unit called “What do you stand for?”

Students wrote editorials and defended their viewpoints in class presentations. Topics included ideas on how to address bullying and gender inequality around the world.

Giaudrone ranks second best on state assessments out of all Washington middle schools where at least 70 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. ​

​Every Giaudrone student studies Spanish, French or Korean. Eighth-grade student Malik Jones especially likes learning Korean. He picked the language because it sounded so different from English, and he enjoys exposure to a new culture.

“My favorite part is learning about the history of Korea and learning about the food. We tried kimchie and bulgogie,” he said. “They taste different!” 

​​​​​​​​​​​​Classmate Maia Lisiecki chose to study Spanish. She used her new language skills to speak with some neighbors and admits that class has its challenges. “There’s a day when we can only speak in Spanish the entire time. It’s tough, but fun.”  ​​​​​​​​​​​​

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Get to know Giaudrone     

Innovation Model: The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program consists of eight integrated subject groups. Students are required to study two at least two languages, humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education and technology. The program focuses on helping students make connections and look at topics from varying perspectives. 

Students best served: All students attending Giaudrone Middle School take part in the IB curriculum.

Grades: Sixth through Eighth

Students: 641

Teacher training: IB teachers have receiving special IB training.

School report card

School Web site

Special clubs and after-school programs: Athletics • Campus Turn Up • Hearts on Fire • National Junior Honor Society • Literacy Support • Math Support • MESA - Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement • Science Support • That's My Campus • Write@253​

Related links:

International Baccalaureate Organization

Experiments in Education TNT article

Department of Education School Turnaround Profile

Designated Innovative School - Washington State