[Sponsored Article] With so many curriculum frameworks and schools in Hong Kong, it is often challenging for parents to distinguish one curriculum from another. Parents also need to consider how the curriculum they choose might translate when moving to another school or country. Stamford American School Hong Kong, recently accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and authorized by the International Baccalaureate for the Diploma Program (IBDP), is unique in Hong Kong as it offers an American standards-based curriculum, taught with an inquiry-based approach and the latest progressive educational practices. Curriculum Coordinator Michael Galligan, who has been in this role at Stamford in Singapore and Hong Kong, shares what makes Stamford's approach unique. Why use the American standards-based curriculum? When we look at the skills students need to succeed in the IBDP, we have found that the American standards at each grade level provide clear preparation, especially in terms of rigor in English and math. We feel confident that students are learning the appropriate knowledge, skills, and concepts at each grade level, so their learning journey happens step by step, not sudden leaps. The inquiry approach encourages students to actively engage in the learning process and develop attitudes toward learning that will lead to success. Can students transfer to and from Stamford if the curriculum is different? When students are in their final years of secondary school, transferring becomes more challenging in terms of credit translation and curriculum. However, at other grade levels, students must develop their core habits as learners and have a strong English and math base for specific career paths. Like any change of school or job, there is always an adjustment period, but international schools are well-resourced to support that. The IBDP has grown by 33% in the past four years, this implies that students with the experiences of such learning approaches and attitudes will be well-positioned not only for universities but also to relocate to top schools worldwide. The emphasis is less on what a student is learning and more on how they are learning—their attitude and mindset about learning. Many schools offer the IBDP, so what makes Stamford unique? Stamford offers a few unique programs to prepare students. First, I should highlight that we provide the 'full IBDP' and the DP's 'course candidate' option where students may choose only specific DP final exams to sit. Likewise, if a student wishes to prepare for and take an American-based Advanced Placement (AP) course and exam, Stamford can assist students with this as well. This flexibility is essential as the full IBDP might not be the best choice for all career options. And finally, Stamford is developing additional Stamford elective courses meant to tailor the student's experience further. Examples of these this coming year are Computer Science, Arts Beyond the Classroom and Sport for Life. All students will also receive a Stamford American High School Diploma, which is accepted globally for university applications. In addition to offering choice, real-life, hands-on experiences are integrated into our high school program. Our Cornerstones Program pairs students with mentors in leading organizations such as MIT, Oxfam, SCMP, the Hong Kong Art School and more. Students in grades 9 and 10 work directly with industry professionals to develop their passions and build confidence. I'm not aware of any other school in Hong Kong that offers such a structured hands-on learning program with the number and depth of partners we have. For example, one partnership introduces students to the fundamentals of architecture, the steps to conceptualize and design a building from ground-zero, and the skills it takes to manage a project and a client. Another partnership introduces students to the world of technical arts and stage production, where they learn about stage management, lighting and sound design and operation concepts, and props, set and costume design and making. What is the benefit of the different graduation pathways? With flexibility and personalization, our graduation pathways acknowledge the fact that we expect our students to enter a multitude of fields and universities. The Stamford American High School Diploma, without the IB component, is also robust and appropriate for students who might not be ready for the rigor of the IBDP but still want a world of options. Regardless of the pathway students choose, they will still get a broad and balanced education that includes studying a second language and the ability to double-up on a science, humanities or arts course. These pathways assure both parents and students that we have the resources, and highly-skilled and experienced faculty, to support every aspiration. Do you offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses? While we don't offer AP courses physically in school, Stamford can support students to take AP classes online through our partnership with VHS (Virtual High School) Learning. Students will have a faculty advisor at Stamford to help them through these courses, allowing them to explore niche courses and career choices. Our University Counselor also helps students and parents explore these different options and guides course choices and the skills students need to succeed in chosen fields.