Throughout the world thousands of students are waiting for the results of their IB (International Baccalaureate) examinations sat in May and June. They are the culmination of two years of blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights and some hard partying once the final papers were completed.
Many who elect to take the IB curriculum are international students living outside their home countries, being educated in international schools, which may not have the same teaching curriculum or educational philosophy of their own countries.
There are also IB students living in their home countries who chose to study for the IB Diploma believing it offers a broader educational program and better university preparation than equivalent exams in their own country. This is particularly valid if these students hope to attend an overseas university.
What the IB Diploma offers is a course of study and examination recognised by universities and educational institutions worldwide. In theory.
Let me say, I’m an out and out advocate of the IB philosophy and have had experience of the UK ‘A’ level system and the USA High School Diploma and AP (Advanced Placement) exams.
In simple terms the ‘A’ Level system usually includes study of 3 or 4 elected subjects over a two year period, the results of which will get you into a UK (and often overseas) university.
The US High School Diploma consists of four years graded study in a variety of subjects, which must include 4 years of specified subjects (including Math andEnglish) as well as elected subjects. Grades for all four years are collated to give a final Grade Point Average forming part of the university application process along with SAT or ACT scores. In the final year students may also sit Advanced Placement exams in certain subjects – successful grades will allow the student to gain a university credit in the subject.
The IB Diploma students follow a different track studying six subjects, five chosen from – literature (in the student’s native language), a foreign language, a science, mathematics, a humanity or social science, along with an art or another choice from the initial five groups. Three of these subjects will be studied at Higher Level, the remainder at Standard Level. (Higher level subjects may be accepted as a college credit at some universities).
All students must complete three further requirements in addition to course subjects to challenge and broaden the educational experience:
- a four thousand word extended essay on a subject of their choice
- Theory of Knowledge course critically examining different ways of knowing (perception, emotion, language and reason) and different kinds of knowledge (scientific, perception, emotion, language and reason)
- Creativity, action, service (CAS) – students must engage in 1) arts activities and demonstrate creativity, 2) take action by participating in sports, local and international projects and expeditions and 3) participate in community and social service activities. Students are expected to be involved in CAS activities for the equivalent of at least three hours each week during the two years of the program – 150 hours.
Three diverse systems of testing whether our students are academically ready for a university education. And this is where the problems start.
If a US student wishes to attend a university in the UK or vice versa, there seems to be no cohesive system of what any university will require in terms of grades. Some institutions seem to recognise only their own national qualifications, having an automatic knee-jerk reaction to any exam not fitting their ‘norm’. No matter that a ‘foreign’ examination may produce a more rounded and better prepared university student.
The IB Diploma offers the best option for a global, diverse education giving the best preparation for university of any educational system I’ve experienced, so why is it not being recognized as such by some academics? Particularly when some universities and colleges do see the value of an IB education and encourage IB students to apply to their intuitions?
Generally they discover IB students are better able to adjust to university than their US and UK educated counterparts, better prepared to study and be self-motivated.
It’s time for educators everywhere to have an international standard by which to judge students from all over the globe – the IB is in place and proven, why is it taking so long for some of the world’s universities to accept and embrace it?
The 2012 IB results are published today – we have a vested interest, our son is one of those students who will be logging on for his results…