Upper School Curriculum

The Upper School curriculum at ISR covers a broad range of subjects. 

English Grades 9–12

The English program focuses on establishing skills in composition, reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and oral response. Class readers with historical content are used to provide a valuable context in which to study and perfect these skills. Literature is introduced gradually in the upper grades to develop critical analysis skills and an appreciation of the world’s literary genres.

Upper School English courses are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of non-native and native speakers of English. Our long-term focus is preparation for university.

English Courses

In Grades 7, 8, and 9, we offer English courses in:

  • Literature
  • Language
  • Transitional English
  • Intensive English

In Grade 10, we offer English courses in:

  • Literature (includes preparation for IGCSE)
  • Language (includes preparation for IGCSE)
  • Transitional English

In Grades 11 and 12, we offer the following English classes for both the Full IB Diploma and alternatively the IB Diploma Program Course:

  • IB Literature
  • IB Language and Literature
  • IB English B


ISR requires the study of German either as a mother tongue or as a foreign language for all of its students in Grades 5 – 10. Students can choose to continue through Grade 12. In a language program designed to mirror that of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German program at ISR focuses on writing, reading comprehension, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary at both mother-tongue and foreign levels. The mother-tongue German course integrates the study of classical German literature starting in Grade 7 and continuing through Grade 12.


A major goal of the Math department at ISR is to introduce students to main ideas and concepts in mathematics (both Algebra and Geometry) and to develop and improve students’ abilities in the following areas: critical thinking, independent analysis, problem-solving, experimenting, and publishing results and information. While developing their analytical and technical skills, students apply their mathematical talent to solve a variety of theoretical or real-life problems.

  • Mathematics in Primary and Middle School is taught as an integrated discipline, allowing for fluidity across boundaries between different branches of math. Starting in Grade 7 students are taught Algebra, set theory, and computer science.
  • In Grades 8 and 9, the study of Algebra and computer science is continued along with the study of geometry
  • In Grade 10 students may choose between Math for Arts and Math for Sciences.
  • In Grades 11 and 12 they have to choose between the Math High Level, Math Standard Level, and Math Study courses.

Our continuing goal is to bring Mathematics to students by improving and varying our in-class work and extracurricular activities, and by exposing students to research and mathematical exploration.

The knowledge and skills students acquire allow them to participate effectively in national and international Mathematics examinations before and after graduating from ISR.


Science as a general course is offered at ISR in Grades 5 – 9. Students in these grades focus on the study of life, earth, physical sciences, and mathematical methods. In Grades 10–12, ISR offers a three-track science curriculum in biology, chemistry, and physics in modern laboratory facilities.

Social Science

Grades 7 – 9, social sciences cover both geography and history, with the main focus on the study of history from ancient civilization to the 20th century. Students gain knowledge and understanding of these time periods through the texts used. Project work allows the students to further explore areas of special interest. Additionally, local German content in history, politics, and institutions is integrated into German lessons in Grades 7 – 9. Grades 10 – 12 offers a Social Science curriculum consisting of classes such as History, Economics, Geography, and Business.

French / Spanish / Japanese / Chinese

Beginning in Grade 6, students choose between French, Spanish (starting from beginner level), and Japanese or Chinese (for native speakers) as their third language. As is the case with both English and German, third language classes focus on developing students’ skills in reading comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, oral response, and writing.

Enrichment Courses

Art, Music (vocal and instrumental), Computing, and Physical Education complete the academic program in the Upper School at ISR. These survey courses are required in Grades 5 – 9 (PE to Grade 10) and expose the students to the liberal arts, giving them a broad base of subjects to choose from in Grades 10–12.

IGCSE, IB Diploma Program

Secondary school students at ISR are prepared for external exams in Grades 7 – 12. In Grade 9, students already meet with the University Counselor and the Academic Head to start thinking about university and the path they would like to take.

In Grades 9 and 10, students take International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) courses.

In Grade 11, most ISR students begin the two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program. IB exams are taken in Grade 12.

To become a graduate of ISR, a student must acquire 26 successfully-completed credits in Grades 9 – 12 to obtain an ISR High School Diploma.

American universities require sitting the SAT and/or ACT and, if necessary, TOEFL. These are entrance exams only and not leaving certificates.

Through these steps, ISR students are prepared to meet the requirements of the most demanding universities in the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, the Middle and Far East, and Australia.

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ISR International School on the Rhine