International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a worldwide network of schools committed to creating a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Students in IB programs think critically, ask challenging questions, and consider both local and global contexts. 

As the only school in Portland authorized by IB for preschool through 8th grade, FAIS uses the IB as a framework for delivering our curriculum in a language immersion setting. The IB is an integral piece in fulfilling our Mission and developing inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people.

What does it mean to be an IB school?

Regardless of location, size, or make‐up, an IB school strives to develop an internationally-minded person.

The Mission of the IB:

  • To develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people.
  • To create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
  • To work with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment.
  • To encourage students worldwide to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

 All IB Programmes:

  • Value international mindedness
  • Emphasize language learning
  • Provide opportunities for actions and becoming responsible community members
  • Emphasize collaboration for both students and teachers
  • Develop key learning opportunities through Approaches To Learning (ATL) Skills
  • Value inquiry as a pedagogical approach

What is the IB Learner Profile?

The profile is often described as the IB Mission Statement in action. The ten attributes listed below are a set of ideals meant to inspire and motivate students, highlighting the inclusive nature of IB programmes, and showing the importance of learning communities, including families, teachers, school leaders, and other community members. 

The profile aims to develop learners who are:

  • Inquirers
  • Knowledgeable
  • Thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Principled
  • Open-minded
  • Caring
  • Risk-takers
  • Balanced
  • Reflective

Inquiry-based learning

“We are teachers of skills and use our subject to build them” (ATL skills workshop)

A unifying thread throughout all IB units is teaching students how best to learn. Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills provide the foundation for independent learning and encourage the application of their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts.

Developing and applying these social, thinking, research, communication and self-management skills helps students learn how to learn not just in the classroom but in a real world context. Teachers explicitly teach ATL skills that reflect the goals of their units and give students several opportunities to practice and refine these skills.

ATL Skill Categories
  • Communication
  • Social
  • Self-management
  • Research
  • Thinking


Concept thinking is a shift from teacher-centered, fact based thinking to:

  • High level thinking
  • Deeper understanding

Conceptual planning and teaching is organized around broad, timeless, universal, and often abstract notions that transcend disciplines. This kind of learning gives students an opportunity to cross traditional subjects in a deeper, more meaningful way, appropriate for 21st century learners. Examples of concepts include system, perspective, force, interaction, logic, space, and value.

Concepts and global contexts are used to develop inquiry statements or central ideas, which teachers use to support and justify a unit of study and inquiry questions (factual, conceptual, and debatable).

Examples of inquiry statements at FAIS:

  • The availability of diverse cuisine reflects increasing globalization.
  • We depend on one another.
  • Building fitness requires a strategy.
  • Changes can be observed and measured.
  • The world is changed by exploration and discoveries.
  • Gestures reflect the traditions of a culture.
  • Migration leads to diffusion of language and customs.
  • We create systems to keep us safe and organized.


A variety of assessment strategies are used by teachers to inform their teaching as well as to understand what students have learned. A key component of assessment practices includes both teacher and student reflection and self-assessment in order to provide feedback on the learning process.

Forms of Assessment:

Pre-assessment: Before a unit begins, teachers check in with students to determine their prior knowledge. This can be a discussion, a written response, or a hands-on learning task. This informs the learning community on the direction and focus of future learning.

Formative assessment: Integrated with daily learning, formative assessment may be class questions, journal entries, homework problem solving, short exercises or discussions and a variety of exit interviews. The purpose of formative assessment is to inform teachers on their teaching and students on their learning. Based on formative feedback, teachers and students reflect and make adjustments.

Summative assessment: This is the final task, generally at the end of a unit, in order for students to demonstrate what they have learned. Tasks can range from performances, exams and authentic projects to essays, dioramas, or presenting a poem. By the time a summative task is assigned, students have had ample opportunity to practice and become proficient at new skills and concepts.

The IB Primary Years Programme

The IB Middle Years Programme

Lower School science class in the FAIS Forest

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