The International Baccalaureate is an international non-profit educational foundation that offers placement in their programs, the International Baccalaureate Programmes. The diploma that they administer upon completion of the diploma program is meant to serve a universally-recognized qualification to enter tertiary (higher) education, such as colleges or universities.
The idea for an international educational system appeared in a book by Marie-Therese Maurette, an author who wrote a handbook for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), in 1948. Two decades later, a group of teachers from the International School of Geneva, one of the most widely known international schools in the world, established the Internations Schools Examinations Syndicate (ISES), which we now know today as the International Baccalaureate.
This is their mission statement, taken from the IB website:
“The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right”.
There are three programs that IB offers: the Primary Years Programme (students aged 3-12), the Middle Years Programme (11-16), and the Diploma Programme (16-19). Mainly, the focus is on the Diploma Programme.
In order to gain entry into the Diploma Programme, you have to complete an exam. In some places, this entrance exam happens for entrance into the “Pre-IB” program, which takes place from grades 9-10, and then they take the Diploma Programme to receive the diploma.
There are several requirements to complete the Diploma Programme:
~Complete six subjects, one from each of the subject groups:
-Language A1 (first language)
-Individuals and societies (humanities and social sciences)
-Mathematics and computer science, and the Arts.
~Complete the three core requirements:
-Extended Essay, with a limit of 4000 words, from a prescribed list of topics
-Theory of Knowledge, a course centered on critical thinking and perspectives
-Creativity, Action, Service, basically community service hours.
Exams for IB are given in May for schools in the northern hemisphere and November for schools in the southern hemisphere. They are marked and graded by IB-appointed examiners.
The point system that IB uses in their assessments is essential to entering several higher education institutions. For each subject, a student scores from 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest and 4 considered a pass. As well, three extra points can be given depending on the grades received in the three core requirements. This makes the highest possible amount of points 45. Diplomas are administered to students who receive 24 points or more, and getting 45 points is extremely difficult.
Having the IBDP (IB Diploma) can be very advantageous, as most universities throughout the world (with exceptions in the Far East) accept it as a credential and consider their grades in Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge in the admission process. As well, several offer scholarships specifically for IB students, and credits are often given to students with and IBDP. Furthermore, several universities offer special benefits to IB students, such as early course registration, better access to student housing, advisers dedicated to IB students, and even 2nd year status for accepted IB students.
Students have studied in the International Baccalaureate programs for decades now. It’s a step in the evolution of education on an international scale.