The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program has been in existence since 1968. Many educators are not aware of the program. Others feel the program is not suitable for urban American schools. Recently the number of U.S. school offering at least one IB program has increased. Find out why and draw your own conclusions about the program.
What is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program?
The IB program was founded in 1968 and is currently adopted in approximately 1,876 schools in 124 countries. There are 683 IB World Schools in the United States. The first school was established in 1971.
There are three programs/grade levels to the IB – the PYP (Primary Years Program), the MYP (Middle Years Program), and the IB (International Baccalaureate program).
Schools may offer one, two or all three of the programs. Teachers and administrators are highly trained in the programs in order to deliver the curriculum in accordance with set standards and quality. Librarians and Media Specialists are often on the “periphery” of delivery and involvement, but invariably are proactive in integrating and coordinating with teachers. They are always involved in aspects relating to research at the MYP and IB levels, and work with teachers on the Units of Inquiry (multi disciplinary units) at the PYP levels.
There are established criteria and benchmarks at all levels of the IB program that must be achieved. It is an integrated program, and that is increasingly being adopted by international schools globally for a variety of reasons including a standardized international curriculum for students who are “global nomads.” The program is integrated at the “subject” and “skills” level, but also stresses the “global” citizen with respect to values, attitudes, contributions and community service, etc.
An approximate definition of international schools may include ones that are using English as the medium of instruction for 5-18 year old students, teaching a curriculum other than the national curriculum of a particular country where the actual physical school is located, with predominately ex-patriate teachers and administrators. Examples may include a school teaching a British curriculum in Singapore, a school teaching an American curriculum in China, a school teaching an IB curriculum in Bangladesh.
Four Pros of the IB Program
#1 – The IB program is aligned with the recommendations of the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce.
Recent statistics portraying the U.S. educational system as losing its position as a world leader recently motivated the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce – a bipartisan group of business, government and education leaders – to call for a complete restructuring of everything from preschool to higher education. The IB program seems to fall in line with the Commission’s suggestions on how to revamp the U.S. educational system to better prepare youth for the rigors of a post secondary education.
#2 – Districts can use Title 1 funds to implement IB program.
While “we get the label of being elitist,” Mr. Beard (IB director general) said, about 30 percent of IB’s U.S. schools receive federal Title 1 anti-poverty money. The organization would like to dramatically increase the overall proportion of IB students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.
#3 - IB program has an international and global focus.
The IBO is widely known for creating intercultural and challenging programs centered on international education with rigorous assessment standards, sometimes labeled as “a high school program geared to the university-bound elite. The IB program helps students understand their own culture and national identity and then encourages them to explore other cultures.
#4 - IB program present in urban city schools.
In the past 35 years, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program has spread to 483 schools across the United States, with an ever-growing share of these schools located in the inner city. These American school sites comprise vastly different contexts than those in which the IB program began-the international schools of Europe.
Four Cons of the IB Program
#1 – The IB program is expensive to implement.
It costs about $10,000 in application fees to get a school considered for IB authorization, and that doesn’t include the travel and other costs of sending the school’s teachers and coordinators to specialized three-day professional-development courses, which cost $1,000 per person. Even after being authorized, IB high schools must pay $8,850 a year in fees. Middle and primary schools must pay $5,220 annually, though schools with more than one IB program get a 10 percent overall fee discount. Schools must also pay additional fees per student and per subject, and those costs don’t cover mailing expenses-all exams are physically mailed to graders, many of whom are overseas.
#2 – US schools have a larger AP program in place that is more flexible.
About 14,000 U.S. high schools offer AP classes, and about 500 offer IB.
Individual IB courses cannot be offered in schools that don’t adopt the entire diploma programme. This restriction prevents more U.S. students from taking advantage of IB courses. Contrast this to the AP program, which makes its courses available to any school with teachers game to undertake them.
#3 – Many IB schools are not centrally located.
There have been recent complaints that many IB programs in the United States are placed in areas of less affluence, which by the location of IB programs in the southeastern United States seems to be true. The complaints are mainly based on the number of students which have to travel across other high school lines to attend these highly competitive and challenging magnet programs. Due to the number of students traveling from distant locations, many have argued for central placement of IB programs, though the result of this has yet to be seen.
#4 – Critics state the IB program is Anti-American and Anti-Christian.
President Bush has called for Advanced Placement and IB programs to be expanded. Critics, however, have argued that IB’s multicultural themes promote values that conflict with traditional Judeo-Christian values. Some opponents have called it Marxist because the International Baccalaureate Organization is a signatory to the Earth Charter, a collection of global principles created in France in 2000.