IB grows and grows

Today, more than 111,00 students around the world will get their International Baccalaureate exam results, notes the New York Times. Only 2 percent of U.S. high schools offer I.B. classes, but nearly 7 percent of U.S. college applicants earn the credential.

I.B. started in Switzerland in the 1960’s. It keeps growing.

In a survey being issued Monday university admissions officers in Britain, the United States and Europe were asked to compare their own country’s secondary school qualification with the I.B. in nine different categories including business skills, communication skills, creativity, the ability to cope with pressure and detailed knowledge of a subject. British admissions officers rated the A-level superior in assessing detailed knowledge of a subject. However in every other category the I.B. was rated either equal or superior to other qualifications.

U.S. admissions officers were asked to compare the I.B. with a high school diploma. Selective colleges “view a diploma as a minimal requirement,” writes the Times. Grades, test scores and Advanced Placement results determine admission. Successful candidates “have taken the most demanding subjects offered by their particular school,” says Christopher Watson, dean of undergraduate admissions at Northwestern.


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  1. Sadly, IB has a distinct leftist, internationalist slant to it. That’s fine, unless you’re not a leftist.

  2. georgelarson says:

    Why do you suggest that “IB has a distinct leftist, internationalist slant to it.”

  3. Mark Roulo says:

    I think the “internationalist” is probably self-explanatory once you expand the IB acronym 🙂

  4. Michael E. Lopez says:

    I took almost all the IB courses my high school offered — and it didn’t strike me as either “internationalist” or even particularly political. They were essentially the same as AP, but (as far as I could tell) a little more interesting and academic than the AP courses.

    Nor is even the Service part of the CAS requirement really political — although I suppose it could be (and probably is in some districts).

  5. georgelarson says:

    I looked up “International Baccalaureate” in Wikipedia. It does have a left wing pedigree, but it is not clear if this is reflected in the IB program in US high schools.

    I am old and I have not encountered any IB graduates. I have always been amazed by the abilities of Gymnasium, Lycee and A level graduates compared to US high School graduates.

    I see no advantage of IB over other rigorous pre college curriculums, other than writing big papers and external evaluations compared to some other programs I know little about. A disadvantage may be that it does not translate into college credit like Advanced Placement.

    If the same students who get 5s in Advanced Placement exams took IB instead how would they benefit? How would it hurt them?

  6. Craig M says:

    Could it be leftist because it’s more student centered? Or is it student centered because it’s leftist? AP would therefore be rightist because of its rigid curriculum and rigid summative testing.

  7. Teacher says:

    Perhaps IB is loathed because it is a UN brainwashing program that seeks to make ‘world citizens’ out of our kids for preparing them to be subject to the ‘world government.’

    Letting the UN have hold of your kids is child abuse.

    The UN itself states that this is their goal.. not skills. IB should be outlawed in this country.


  8. The history courses are overtly political. I like the math more–AP only has calc and stats, not an integrated advanced math course.

  9. IB is open to interpretation by the teachers who teach it. So it is open to mischief in a way that AP is not.

    If a teacher believes in American exceptionalism, and wants to bring students to a detailed understanding of our international position by exploring the good and the bad of other national cultures… the teacher will teach it one way.

    If a teacher believes the American experiment has failed, and wants to bring students to a detailed understanding of why we need to submit to an international government as soon as possible… the teacher will teach it another way.

    Should America lead, or lead from behind? Should Americans understand exactly who and what we are leading, or should we understand who is going to lead us now?

    If your school district offers IB and your child is interested, it’s important to get the actual reading lists that individual teachers assign. It’s not enough to find out what your district adopted as its official inoffensive textbooks in History and English and Economics.

    My guess is that IB essays will be too subjective, both as the child develops a thesis and as the teacher grades it, no matter how many more IB-certified readers read the essay. I think a child is left wide open to receiving a lower grade for not adhering to the teacher’s worldview.

    My guess is that the nature of AP exams restricts the lateral movement of the teacher across reading lists to promote a worldview. For parents, this works for you, whether your child’s teacher is inclined to move left or to move right. I think AP exams will be more objectively graded.

    In our school district, parents prefer AP for at least a couple of reasons: more AP courses look good on a high school transcript, and more AP courses mean your child starts his or her freshman year of college advanced beyond the tedious freshman courses. Your child gets to the fun stuff faster. Your child could graduate on time and under budget and start living life.

    I think IB gives teachers far too much control over children. It may attract teachers who want that control.

  10. I can’t speak of IB in any detail, other than to say that my wife took all IB classes while I took all AP and we seem to have received a roughly equal education.

    Also, to the poster who said that colleges do not give credit for IB, it may be that fewer colleges do (I have no idea of the numbers) but my wife received credit from Cornell and a couple of her high school friends were credited by Stanford and Berkeley for their IB grades.

  11. Teacher says:

    @ Mike Lopez: Perhaps you had good teachers with common sense who refused to sign the ‘world government’ mission statement pact as I did and did not put the political agenda into play and just taught pure skills and facts. I refused to sign a world gov’t pact and lost my job as a result.

  12. Michael E. Lopez says:


    Any chance you could tell us what this “world government pact” is? Because the IB Mission Statement is pretty vanilla:

    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.

    Now I’ll be the first to admit that the last sentence, taken on its face, sounds like an argument for some relativist theory of truth. But if we have half an ounce of charity in our reading (as we should) it’s clear that’s not what they mean, and that it’s just sloppy drafting. (The easiest but not most elegant fix would be to move “also” before can, so it’s more obviously modifying “can be” rather than seeming to modify “be right”.)

    But other than that nitpick, I don’t see anything in there about world government. Help me out here?

  13. Are you joking? You don’t see this as overtly political, using standard “progressive” buzzwords?

  14. Stacy in NJ says:

    One complaint I’ve heard locally is that IB doesn’t include Civics, American History, or Economics as core subject material. This info comes only from conversations I’ve had with other moms who have kids currently in the program.

  15. Michael E. Lopez says:

    If you’re so thoroughly politicized that you can’t hear a phrase like “intercultural understanding and respect”, “a more peaceful world”, etc.. without immediately turning it into a philosophical war, without having some knee-jerk reaction that these are “buzzwords”, then it’s possible you’ve lost perspective.

    I mean, really, are you telling me you don’t want a more peaceful world? I mean, really, how can you object to that? Now if they had said something silly like, “A more peaceful world through the application of programs of social justice” I could see getting upset.

    Certain phrases are so politicized that they might as well be capitalized and turned into proper nouns: Social Justice, Intelligent Design, Multiculturalism, Alienation of Labor, etc. These words have theories behind them, and really are just placeholders for a political agenda.

    But “intercultural understanding and respect” is pretty…. well, it’s the word I used before: vanilla. Note that the Mission Statement I’ve quoted doesn’t use either of the two obvious terms — “Social Justice” or “Multiculturalism” — that you might expect from an explicitly left-leaning organization.

    “Ah,” you might say, “That’s because they’re trying to conceal their agenda!”

    Well, some people are never satisfied.

  16. I think the chief disadvantage of IB in these constricted times is that it is expensive — districts have to pay for the curriculum, etc. The only cost involved in AP is the exam fee.

    This is a nice ppt of the pros and cons of IB from that point of view: http://www.edwatch.org/ppts/Eaton-IB-10-14-06.ppt

  17. Frank Gue says:

    I pick-out one key sentence:

    “British admissions officers rated the A-level superior in assessing detailed knowledge of a subject.”

    Now, isn’t this the heart of education? It matters not how nice a student in Canada is to a student from Pakistan, or how well he understands the plight of the Darfuris if he cannot read. The very first sine qua non is ability and agility with the basics. E.g. a student cannot cope with ANY of the stated subjects until (s)he can read, quickly and with comprehension.

    I hate labels, don’t drag us into “left” vs. “right”. Instead, should we not deal, in education matters, with OBJECTIVELY ASSESSED RESULTS? Can Johnny read a newspaper or the instructions on a prescription? Can he multiply 6 x 7 instantly or estimate 637 + 592 in his head quickly? Does he know where Tokyo is? Does he know when, where, and how WWII started (some CBC announcers don’t)?

    With me, some commentators seem instinctively to fear and suspect pressure toward a world government. We all should. Such do not and cannot work, as vividly demonstrated by great civilizations from Rome (and before) to the League of Nations to the UN.

    Being a world citizen (or IB) is greatly to be admired but MUST NOT be forced ahead of the foundations upon which they in the end must rest.