Most people are familiar with Advanced Placement (AP) classes in education, but there’s another academic program that is growing in Northeast Ohio.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, or IB, is a rigorous academic curriculum that also prepares students for college and beyond. IB emphasizes academic achievement, critical thinking, research skills and community service, and presents subject matter from a worldwide perspective. It was founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Schools wishing to teach IB must undergo an extensive accreditation process, which can take years. To date, 20 Northeast Ohio high schools offer the IB Diploma Programme, including St. Edward High School in Lakewood and Shaker Heights High School.
The 2017-18 school year is the first time that Beaumont School, an all-girls Catholic school in Cleveland Heights, will be offering the IB Diploma Programme, designed for juniors and seniors.
“What makes IB unique from AP courses is that in AP, we are all about having an outline of material that teachers will cover,” Beaumont School Principal Nick Beyer says. “IB’s planning is focused on what skills we are going to make the students exhibit. It is really important in the way they are learning.”
Students will study six subjects: three at the standard level and three at the higher level over their two years in the program. The courses are focused on language and literature (English); language acquisition (foreign language); mathematics; sciences, individuals and societies (social studies); and the arts.
IB focuses on 10 traits for students to become: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective. In addition to assessments, students complete a Theory of Knowledge course, write an extended 4,000-word personal interest essay, and complete at least 150 hours of CAS (creativity-activity-service) hours outside of the classroom.
Upon graduation, students can receive their school diploma and a separate IB Diploma.
Westlake City Schools offers IB programs in elementary and high school, having received IB authorization for the high school level in 2014 and at the elementary level in 2015. All children participate at the elementary level, but participation varies at the high school level.
“Colleges view IB as a rigorous program and credits are accepted by all universities, including internationally,” says Kathi Maxwell, associate superintendent of instruction at Westlake City Schools. “I think the decision should be based on individual interests and needs. Both (AP and IB) are excellent ways to earn transcripted credit for college.”
In addition to preparedness for post-graduation education, Beyer says IB really helps students focus on the world around them, and challenges them to critically think about complex global issues.
“Ultimately, as principal, we want to make sure students are interested in their learning and that they are doing a variety of activities,” he says.