Questions & Answers

2019 Questions & Answers Meeting

We realize that finding the answers to common questions can be tough, so we hold an annual meeting to help. Below are questions posed to teachers, students, counselors and Nirit Cohen-Vardi, our IB Coordinator, during the Q&A Meeting on September 11th, 2019, along with the answers they provided.

If you have a question that has not been addressed, please Contact Us and we will do our best to get you the answer. We recognize that things constantly change, so we update regularly.


What is the best method for a student to resolve a problem or get extra help?

Teachers all hold open hours before/after school when students are invited to come to classroom for help. Specific hours are usually published in the Caver Weekly.

What is the policy on tutoring?

"I'm In" grant program will be available Monday-Thursday after-school.

How much science will students get?

One per year or more, depending on the path the student chooses. Bio is required for Freshmen, then students can choose between Physics and Chemistry pathways for Sophomore year followed either by the two year sequence of IB Biology or IB Physics/Chemistry depending on their Sophomore choice.

How much homework would an IB diploma student have?

Note-taking every day. Labs, reading, writing. 4+ hours per day is possible.

Are IB classes weighted?

English - yes. Chemistry HL1 and HL2 - yes. Spanish - yes. TOK - yes. Math HL1, HL2, and SL2 - yes. Biology - yes.  The UC A-G guide online can tell you which courses are weighted.

What is English Springboard?

Designed to prep students for AP and IB. It is not district-mandated. Benefits: flexible enough to line up student for either IB or AP, offers a framework for a variety of teaching styles. Allows all 9th and 10th graders to take all the classes.

What do 12th grade students read?

Raisin in the Sun, Beloved... 6-7 novels per year.

SL (Standard Level) vs HL (Higher Level)?

All are two-year courses, SDHS only uses English HL. Math - students have same curriculum, students choose test in 12th grade. Chemistry exams are tough and very few student test out of the college requirements, even if they pass the class. IB science students are well prepared for college. History - AP is fact-oriented, IB is about analysis. Math - HL is more rigorous and weighted.

What are some mistakes 9th grade students make?

Don't do their homework. Some science and art tracks have to be started in 9th or 10th or a student cannot get on them.

Is TOK world-wide?


What do teachers expect from their students to succeed in class?

Teachers provide a syllabus and parents should review and sign it for students.

Who chooses whether a student is HL or SL?

The students.

If you're in an IB class, do you have to take the IB exam?


Difference between IB and AP?

IB tests whether concepts are understood. AP tests whether students know the facts.

Tell us about the IB Language Exam.

It is a combination oral and written test that tests understanding of texts. Students who go for the IB diploma will be effectively bilingual and very strongly competent. To pass the diploma test students must start language 3/4 in 9th grade, move to 5/6 in 10th, pass HL1 in 11th and HL2 in 12th.

How do students know what language level they are at?

All language classes start off with a diagnostic period to make sure students are in the correct class.


What is the best way to contact a counselor?

Email is best. Use the counseling website. However, the Make an Appointment tab works, but please use email for now as the appointment calendar isn't aligning with the counselors' schedules. Counselors will do their best to get back to you within 48 hours.

What is a weighted class?

9th grade - No weighted classes. 10th grade - Honors Chemistry is weighted, but Advanced English is not.  Weighted classes are IB, AP, and honors classes.  Weighted classes bump up your GPA.  More IB classes than ever are now weighted, which makes our students more competitive. There is a UC website that shows which of San Diego High's classes are weighted. 

Should a student who is struggling come to you or their teacher?

It's best to go to teachers first, since they are more in the know with instruction. Remember, the teachers see their kids more often.  However, when students are uncomfortable going to the their teachers, then they should go to the counselors.

What are some reasons students might need assistance?

When they have stress or anxiety they should go to their counselors.  There is also a Wellness Center on Campus.  When they are struggling in class they should talk to their teachers right away.  All teachers provide tutoring, but their times vary. Counselors will get tutoring times finalized once schedules are set. 

Why weren't parents contacted about scheduling issues so kids didn't panic about the mishaps.

Change in leadership. We know we have to better communicate going forward.

How do you guys handle kids being bullied or kids feeling unsafe to go to the bathroom

We are shifting operations. We are working first on the schedules, then other items. We are doing yellow ribbon week next week re: addressing drugs. Principal is working with ASB to address bathroom issues. Each year we have more kids and fewer counselors. Counselors are placed throughout campus during lunch. We have a wellness center on campus. Counselors will go into the 9th grade classes to explain who students can go to for help and what staff does to prevent bullying.

What do we tell our children so that they feel safe?

We will talk the students through the process so they will feel safe.

What is the student enrollment at I.S. right now?

We have 1267 at I.S. and about 2700 for all of San Diego High.

Is the PSAT funded?

Yes. It's funded by the district for sophomores and juniors and will be taken October 16th.

How many counselors?

8 counselors and 2700 students. There is a counseling assistant, Ms. Baca. Each counselor has about 470 students.

Do you have the German teacher ready to go?

We are waiting the district's HR to approve him.

If my student is in courses that they don't want are they stuck there all year?

Usually, students have to stay in courses all year. It is tricky because some courses are really popular, but then we don't have enough teachers and/or space. Freshman will be most impacted because of the electives. We try to coach them through it.

How soon do you anticipate changes to music schedule with today's hire of a new music teacher?

We are going through schedule changes regarding music every day, but it's a process.

How do you log into PowerSchool?

Mr. Baker put a blurb together explaining PowerSchool. You can contact Ms. Baca for additional support.

My child has only studied Spanish, but he was placed in French instead, how will this affect him?

We will change that for the student as we want them in the correct language.

How do we get our child's 10th grade transcript?

Ms. Baca will provide an unofficial and counselors can provide official.

IB Coordinator

Any recommendations on how to help IB student feeling overwhelmed with classes?

1st check in with teacher and ask for help,. 2. Counselors are always an option. 3. Use time allocated in such classes as avid to catch up on homework.

Where can we find information to familiarize ourselves with IB at IS?

How has math changed at IS?

New math curriculum starting with class of 2021. Outline of math course work sequence on IS. Studies webpage. Look at the table listed by subject. Follow subject courses from left to right for pathway.

What is AVID and how does it work?

It is a 4 year sequence of college prep classes for All IS Studies students. In Junior year, students are prepared to apply to UC/CU colleges. During Senior year, students prepare college applications to UC, CU, and one private university; financial aid and scholarship applications are done in the classroom

What is TOK?

It stands for " Theory of Knowledge" and is specific to the IB school. It is taken Junior and Senior Year by all IS students. Teachers are trained to guide students through how, what, why we learn and how it all intersects across all the curriculum areas in preparation for critical thinking. Diploma students must submit work to IBO. Coursework pathway students have the option of whether they want to submit the TOK work to IBO.

What is IB Support?

It is a class only provided to IS students. Students take TOK one semester and IB Support the other semester for both 11 and 12 grade.

How do students choose IB Diploma Pathway vs IB Coursework Pathway?

It depends on student's interests and goals. The majority of students choose the coursework pathway. There is a choice between Standard Level (SL) and Advanced (HL) Assessments. Some science or math college focused students choose to assess at SL in math and science and assess at HL in the humanities subjects, so as to try and get college GE Units for subject areas that they are not choosing to specialize in. Others of these students choose the reverse. Families can meet with the IB coordinator prior to deciding.

What does the Diploma Pathway Involve?

Subject specific coursework, Extended Essay, CAS, TOK

How does the Coursework Pathway work?

Flexible choices with subject coursework, Extended Essay (Optional), CAS (optional), TOK (optional)

What is the Extended Essay?

There is a contract with student and family that is initiated in February of Junior Year. It is a one year agreement to complete self-directed 4,000 word research essay. First step is to read the first 24 pages of the guide and decide whether or not the student plans to participate. The student is then assigned a supervisor/teacher to serve as a mentor.

What is CAS?

It is an Independent Service Learning Project. It stands for Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS).

How does the SAT impact college admission?

We recommend taking it spring of Junior Year. However, it can be taken up to the fall of senior year, some schools accept November test scores and others do not. Some colleges will blend scores (superscores); others take the highest score (highest test sitting). It is best to check with each colleges admission requirements.

How can my child apply for scholarships?

Students apply for scholarships in AVID class and learn how to research available scholarships

How does the community college classes work?

The professors come to the San Diego High campus to teach students.

How many I.S. students graduate?

IS has an average graduation rate of 98% prior to the summer and 100% by the end of the summer.

How do you test for languages?

The Advanced Placement (AP) test is optional for languages. Testing can qualify students for college credit. SL fully prepares students for the AP language test. For German only, students can take AP German or the German Sprachdiplom #2 for German universities. Usually students in IB German SL will take the German Sprachdiplom #2. It is not required but is a choice.


How did you decide if you wanted to do diploma?

I wanted to take an AP art class, so it helped me decide to not do it. My art teacher explained this to me. If you don't take enough IB classes junior year, then you can't do diploma.

Do you use the bathrooms at school?

Can use them in the admin office or in the 1100 building. These are the cleaner, safer ones. I try not to go to the bathrooms more than twice a day. Students won't really mess with you in the bathroom if you leave them alone.

What have you enjoyed most?

The friends we've made and athletics. Sports at our school are a good community to be a part of. Sports provide a structure that is important. Associated Student Body (ASB) has been a great community and I will really miss it.

When you come from a language school versus not, are you able to catch up with language?

There are different levels and if you are in the wrong level you can usually talk to your counselors and get moved up.

Have any of you studied abroad?

If you do it, do it sophomore or freshman year. Since IB courses are two year courses, you can't leave junior or senior year.

Are any of you doing the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma?


Did any of you think you would be, then change your mind?

Yes. The thing is, you have to get really fluent in another language in order to get the diploma.

Does the IB diploma help you get into college?

You don't find out you've got the diploma or not until after you've graduated. However, it looks good to take IB courses as they are challenging and are internationally recognized.

How do IB courses compare to AP courses?

IB classes are two years and AP classes are one year. Not all IB courses require tests (e.g. IB film). HL classes can get you college credit, as can AP classes. However, you have to do well on the tests. IB courses are much more challenging.

Did you stop taking language classes when decided not to do the diploma?

You still have to take a certain amount of language in order to get into college.

Have you taken classes outside of IS?

I took Chicano studies at City College and I thought it was pretty easy.