Monday, November 1, 2010


Our school offers a number of IB (International Baccalaureate) courses which are meant to be honors courses that are held to an international standard. From my experience working in college admissions, IB courses are considered on par with AP courses, signifying a particularly challenging or intense choice that a student could make in his or her schedule if he/she was qualified to take the course.

What's interesting about IB courses at our school is that students do not have to apply or especially qualify to take them. In fact, the school encourages every student to take at least one IB course before they graduate. IB courses are meant to come from a global perspective with the goal of educating children towards a mindset of world peace. The IB organization appears to pride itself on providing a higher level of education that could and should be recognized as advanced in colleges and universities worldwide.

When I noticed that I had a couple of students who were full IB diploma candidates (meaning that they are taking/have taken courses in all of the areas of study and are going to be writing a big final paper to culminate their studies), I assumed that they would be my highest achievers. However, these students still scored between 12-15 on their baseline ACTs, got 5-7s on their ACT essays, and, for at least one, will have to retake the GRAD reading and writing tests in order to graduate.

I found myself wondering: how does this happen? How do students make it all the way to IB courses without developing strong reading and writing skills? How can they be expected to write a "Senior Thesis"-esq paper if they cannot manage the ACT essay or their GRAD writing exam?

Through this whole discussion, these are my main concerns: 1. That my school merely implemented an IB program to pad the student's resumes with no ability to actually run the program in an advanced or correct way, 2. That these tests- the ACT and the GRAD tests are in no way able to measure these student's abilities, 3. That the emphasis on the IB program is just another form of world competition rhetoric that has completely infected our educational system.

More on all of these topics at some point.

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