What Makes the IB Program Unique?
April 21, 2022
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a world-renowned, highly respected academic curriculum for students who seek a broad and challenging education.
Like the Advanced Placement academic program, the IB is known as a strong college preparatory program that teaches valuable skills and allows students to earn college credit. So, what makes the IB program unique?
Rigorous Authorization Process for Schools
First, not every school may offer an IB class or program. To teach IB programs, which consists of four age-level programs tailored to students in preschool-grade 12, schools must go through a multi-year authorization process led by the International Baccalaureate Organization.
Once authorized, a school earns the right to call itself an IB World School. Each IB World School makes a commitment to constantly grow, reflect, learn, and develop. IB World Schools are held to an international standard by the IBO and submit to regular reviews and evaluations.
Interconnected, Global Studies
In a traditional high school, subjects like science, history, and English are often taught in isolation. However, in an IB program, students are taught to recognize links between these core disciplines. Moreover, the IB asks students to make links between everything they learn, and to follow their own instincts. Personal, community, and global connections are made in the classroom; for example, between a science lesson and something that happens out on the soccer field. Students look for and make such connections outside of the classroom as well, and then develop and incorporate these connections into personal projects of study at school.
IB Diploma Program
The IB uniquely offers the IB Diploma Program (IB DP), which is a two-year program for juniors and seniors that provides a strong academic framework for educating internationally-minded problem-solvers. At the conclusion of the program, students have the opportunity to earn the prestigious IB Diploma.
The DP requires students to take six classes concurrently with the Core Curriculum. The Core comprises the Theory of Knowledge course, which explores the nature and dimension of knowledge, and the Extended Essay, where students write an academic research essay based on a research project on a topic of their own choosing. The Core also includes the CAS projects, which seek to develop the student through projects promoting creativity, activity, and service.
To obtain the IB Diploma, students must take at least three higher level classes. Each of the six classes is a two-year class taken during junior and senior year. This is different from the Advanced Placement program, which offers one-year classes in each subject.
Students in the IB DP program are held to international standards. IB DP students take IB exams at the end of their studies, thereby having the opportunity to earn the IB Diploma and demonstrate their knowledge compared with other IB students all over the world. Additionally, students who earn certain scores on their IB exams are eligible to receive credit at many colleges and universities.
Learning to Learn
IB students learn content and skills, and they also focus on the process of learning itself. This deliberate pedagogical focus gives students the tools they need to become lifelong learners and tackle new subjects and problems beyond school.
The IB Learner Profile, always forefront in an IB student’s mind, is a compilation of ten essential characteristics that inspire students in their development. These characteristics include Inquiry, Knowledgeable, Principled, Open-minded, Balanced, Reflective, Caring, Communicator, Thinkers, and Risk Takers. Students gain skills in asking questions, learning independently, thinking critically, and reflecting on strengths and weaknesses in order to support future learning.
Another pinnacle of the IB studies is the Theory of Knowledge class, a mandatory and essential component of the IB DP that asks students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we claim to know what we know.
Research and Writing skills
The Extended Essay, an independent research and writing project of a student’s own choosing, is another crucial element of the IB Diploma and is unique to the IB program. Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, students choose a topic and undertake advanced independent research, developing highly honed organizational skills in the process. After researching, they write a lengthy research paper. Along the way, students are required to have three reflection sessions, culminating in a final interview. These advanced research and writing skills, along with interviewing skills, are important for college placement and sought by employers worldwide.
The IB program ensures that students put their learning into practice. Another mandatory and crucial element of the IB is student participation in CAS – Creativity, Activity, Service projects, where students learn through experience and take action in the service of others. Students pursue their own interests and skills through projects, clubs, community service, sports, and other co-curricular activities. CAS helps to shape students into well-rounded, motivated, engaged people.
Effective time management
The key to good independent study is time management, a skill picked up instinctively by IB students. Establishing good study habits, setting aside time for assignments, developing individual revision techniques, and resisting distractions are all byproducts of an IB education.
University preparation and admissions acceptance
IB students are given the tools and support they need to become the multi-talented, versatile students universities seek to enroll. Because the IB is offered worldwide and recognized by prestigious colleges and universities internationally, the IB has become a standardized, well-known and respected benchmark for excellence.
Personalized learning and personal growth
IB students recognize the program asks much of them, and they graduate confident in their abilities and ready to advance to the next level. Dwight School, the flagship school of the Dwight Schools worldwide network, has been an IB pioneer in the Americas, being the first to offer the IB programs from pre-K to Grade 12. Dwight’s IB program provides an education that crosses disciplinary, cultural, national and geographical boundaries, and champions critical engagement, stimulating ideas, and meaningful relationships. In 2021, Dwight School was honored to be the first school in the world to launch the IB Diploma program online.