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Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation based in Switzerland that is administered by a board of governors and six permanent committees handling policy and best governance practices. IB World Schools are institutions accredited and authorized to offer either or all of the three programs: the Primary Years Programme or PYP (ages 3-12), the Middle Years Programme or MYP (ages 11-16), and the Diploma Programme or IBDP (ages 16-19). The Canadian International School of Beijing gives us more insight into this highly popular curriculum.
What’s unique about this program?
The IB has a 43-year history of high-quality international education. IB World Schools go through a rigorous authorization and evaluation process, and IB teachers participate in a variety of professional development events. The IB has a distinct focus on international education, making it one of the most popular – and natural – choices for expat families in Beijing. The three programs have their own developed and evolving curriculum. The programs have the following core characteristics:
• They require study across a broad range of subjects.
• They emphasize language learning.
• They encourage interdisciplinary learning.
• They include a community service requirement.
How is it applied?
Each program has its own curriculum; the IBDP is probably the best known. Over two years, students must take six courses drawn from the following subject groups: arts, experimental sciences, language acquisition, studies in language and literature, individuals and society, and mathematics and computer science. Normally, half of these subjects are higher-level courses (240 teaching hours), and the other half are standard-level courses (150 teaching hours). Other hallmarks of the IBDP include the Theory of Knowledge (TOK), “Creativity, Service, and Action” (CAS), and the extended essay. International Baccalaureate (IB) TOK is a compulsory course that focuses on critical thinking and the nature of knowledge. CAS reflects the belief that students should pursue activities outside the classroom. The extended essay is a 4,000-word paper designed to prepare students for undergraduate university work. IBDP students are graded on a scale from 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest. They can also gain up to three extra points for their combined results on TOK and the extended essay, bringing the maximum total grade to 45 points. The IB diploma is awarded to students who obtain at least 24 points and satisfy their requirements in CAS. In general, about 80 percent of students obtain the diploma after being examined; fewer than 1 percent achieve a perfect score.
How well does this education system prepare students for the real world?
The IB diploma is accepted by over 2,000 universities in 75 countries. In addition, IB provides students with an international skill set, including knowledge of a second language, advanced critical thinking skills, dedication to community service, and the ability to appreciate different cultures.
Where is it offered?
It can be found in 140 countries according to the official website statistics. Most IB World Schools are required to have the IB logo on their website and communication materials, therefore the absence of the logo would mean a school isn’t an IB accredited school.
Curriculum spotlight: Javier Hernandez, Grade 11 student at CISB.
What was the most interesting project you completed this year?
The most interesting project I completed this year was my Theory of Knowledge (TOK) presentation, which is a requirement in the diploma program. In Grade 11, we do a small version of the required, more formal, presentation in Grade 12. I explored the topic of ‘how emotion influences the transfer of information.’ I combined the emotion of fear and my question to make claims, explore possible counter-claims, and apply it to real life situations.
What are the challenges?
It was most challenging to figure out what my claim was going to be, and to connect it to real-life situations. My Psychology class helped me with choosing my question; we were exploring and discussing “fear” around Halloween time. I was able to identify this as my emotion, choose my topic, and make connections.
Beyond that, I had personal challenges during the preparation and presentation when my computer went missing. I had to do much of the work and research by hand and seek help from my friends and borrow devices. I learned that I enjoy presenting in the format that I did (hands on), and that I should not lose my computer.
This article originally appeared on page 14-15 of the 2017 issue of beijingkids School Choice Guide. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Courtesy of CISB