FAQs about IB at Baldwin
What is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program?
The International Baccalaureate is a college preparatory program for all students, PPK-12. The IB began more than four decades ago, and is considered the world's premier college preparatory program, especially by colleges and universities in Europe and North America. The IB is not based on a single educational system; rather, it is based on best practices and standards derived from many national systems of education.
IB is divided into three main programs.
- The Primary Years Program (PYP) is designed to meet the unique developmental needs of learners ages 3-11.
- The Middle Years Program (MYP) is designed to meet the needs of pre and early adolescent learners ages 11-16.
- The Diploma Program (DP) is designed to meet the needs of later adolescence/college bound learners ages 16-18.
All three programs integrate the IB Learner Profile, which is best described as a character education strand that teaches and reinforces ten characteristics of highly effective people (e.g. caring, communicators, principled, inquirers, thinkers, courageous, knowledgeable, balanced, open-minded, and reflective;). All three programs also include the philosophy of International Mindedness--the idea that others, with their differing values and beliefs, can also be right, and that we can at times deeply disagree and still recognize our shared humanity.
IB is governed by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), which includes:
- more than 4500 schools,
- tens of thousands of educators
- nearly 700,000 students worldwide.
Schools must prove their commitment to the high standards for pedagogy and assessment through a rigorous authorization process in advance of becoming an IB school. IB schools must also commit to continuous professional development for their faculties.
What makes IB different?
Traditional curriculum focuses largely on content acquisition, with some skills development, and is often teacher-centered. The IB uses the inquiry method (teaching kids how to ask the right questions in support of their own learning) and is student-centered in focus.
While content is important within the IB, it is viewed as one of the means available to grow key skills such as critical thinking (the ability to reason deeply and with complexity) and divergent thinking (the ability to see more than one solution to a problem, or to frame a question in more than one way), not as an end unto itself.
The IB stresses the importance of conceptual understanding. For example, in IB mathematics, it is not enough for a student to memorize a problem-solving algorithm (the method or mechanics of problem solving). They must also be able to explain the concept behind the method (e.g. the distributive property, etc.) so that they are successful applying their learning in novel situations.
An IB classroom looks different from the classrooms that most of us remember. Students are not compared to their peers; they are assessed according to specific criteria. Creative and innovative thought is rewarded. Learning differences are supported through a variety of tasks and assessment formats.
How are teachers prepared for the IB program?
The IB is extremely demanding of teachers. Schools must commit to continuous professional development for their faculties in order to be authorized to offer any of the three programs: PYP, MYP, or DP. The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), in partnership with national-regional associations of IB schools, offers 3-day workshops in multiple languages around the world and throughout the year. Workshops are available in three levels from entry-level to advanced, and cover a range of topics from educational leadership, assessment, and instruction by discipline, to programmatically specific topics designed to meet the needs of particular developmental ranges.
Our teachers participate in Level 1, 2 and 3 workshops abroad. We also conduct on-site trainings during the year. The Baldwin faculty meets weekly to develop curriculum and discuss pedagogy and assessment practices. Our teachers work with their IB Coordinators by program to develop unit plans and assessments.
What is the IB Primary Years Program?
The IB Primary Years Program (PYP) is a curriculum framework designed for students aged 3 to 11. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is defined by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subject areas, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning.
Inquiry-based learning is so much more than asking and answering questions. While children are challenged to develop the skill of questioning, they also come to understand that for many problems, there is no right or wrong answer. This is especially true when considering human institutions and behaviors. Therefore, children learn how to resolve problems as much as how to solve them. Often, the most difficult aspect of inquiry is identifying a problem and framing useful questions.
In an inquiry-based instructional model, student:
- construct their own meaningful questions
- obtain useful information or evidence intended to answer the question under study
- explain and evaluate collected evidence
- connect the results of the investigative process with their explanation, and then create an argument and marshal evidence in support of their contentions.
Inherent within this approach is the idea that the learner is fully engaged in the acquisition of essential or useful knowledge.
For example, a child in Kindergarten might notice that plants change over time, and may want to know how and why this occurs. With the support of a teacher, the student will develop a series of guiding questions that will help him/her answer their big question. The student will review books and other media about plants in order to develop their background knowledge. A student may also place seeds in a clear plastic bag with soil and water in order to observe and chronicle the growth of a plant over time. He or she might keep a time-journal, complete with illustrations of what they see. They may also compare this to what they witness at home in their garden. Once the student has grown their background knowledge and completed their investigation, they are able to generate a theory about how plants develop and change, and support their theory with the evidence they themselves have collected and the connections they have made. The student might now be encouraged to test their theory against other types of growth; that is, do animals and plants grow and change in the same way, and so on.
For the student immersed in guided inquiry, knowledge is earned and learned deeply, not simply memorized, and therefore it is more likely to stick. Big ideas and foundational concepts are rooted. More so, the skills of inquiry, such as those described above, are broadly applicable to all types of problem solving both in and beyond the classroom. Just as important, these skills grow with the child, and can be used to solve or resolve ever more complex problems.
What is the IB Middle Years Program?
The Middle Years Program (MYP) is designed for students aged 11 to 16. It provides a "framework of learning which encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers. The MYP emphasizes intellectual challenge, encouraging students to make connections between their studies in traditional subjects and to the real world. It fosters the development of skills for communication, intercultural understanding and global engagement, qualities that are essential for life in the 21st century. The MYP is flexible enough to accommodate the demands of most national or local curriculums. It builds upon the knowledge, skills and attitudes developed in the IB Primary Years Program and prepares students to meet the academic challenges of the IB Diploma Program (grades 11-12)."
The MYP is particularly sensitive to the needs of pre-adolescent and adolescent learners. The program emphasizes the development of core competencies including:
- critical and divergent thinking
- literacy (a broad understanding of oral and written language, composition, argumentation, and literary themes)
- numeracy (a conceptual understanding of numbers and algebraic and geometric expressions beyond basic problem solving)
These competencies are developed in an interdisciplinary framework; for instance, thru the history of art or science, comparative language study, basic engineering, etc.
How will students be graded?
Generally speaking, educational assessments are divided into three categories: diagnostic, formative and summative.
- Diagnostic assessments are sometimes exams, but they also take the form of personality inventories and observations of skills and behaviors at the outset.
- Diagnostic assessments are intended to provide a baseline understanding of where a student is in terms of skills and background knowledge as they enter into a course of study.
- Formative assessment is the day-to-day, ongoing assessment of learning; the continuous observations, conversations, feedback cycles, and coaching practices that take place in the classroom and that help to shape a student's learning.
- Formative assessment occurs throughout the learning process, solicits individual student input, and allows the teacher to adjust their teaching methods in real time in order to best support learning.
- Examples of formative assessment include learning logs, concept maps, laboratory reports, quizzes, daily homework and journals.
- Formative assessments also include direct observations of students working alone or collaboratively, and one-on-one student-teacher conferencing that is scheduled during the regular school day.
- Formative assessments are linked closely to the idea of differentiated, or individualized, instruction.
- Summative assessment is most often a formal evaluation of learning. Summative assessment generally occurs at the end of a larger unit of learning and often takes the form of a representative or cumulative examination or task/project. This is the assessment type with which most of us are most familiar: unit exams, chapter tests, SATs, etc.
One way to understand the difference between formative and summative assessment is that formative assessment is assessment for learning, whereas summative assessment is assessment of learning.
Educator Paul Black expresses this idea in simpler terms: "When a cook tastes the soup, that's formative assessment. When the customer tastes the soup, that's summative assessment." Summative assessment is product-focused, a snapshot of student competence, whereas formative assessment is process-focused, and is used to refine individual learning processes throughout the learning cycle. The end goal of formative assessment is always greater competency.
At Baldwin, we want to coach our students towards competency in key skills and content. More so, we want to be sure that our assessments provide both a clear picture of a student's strengths and challenges, as well as direct, critical feedback to the student that will allow them to improve over time.
Will students still use books?
Textbooks and other books are used in IB programs. In inquiry-based programs like IB, textbooks are but one of a number of possible resources that students can use to support their understanding of a subject area or concept.
What is International Mindedness and the IB Learner Profile?
Two major aspects of the IB are International Mindedness and the IB Learner Profile. Both convey a value set and are the foundation for character development.
International Mindedness is more than intercultural study and non-native language acquisition. It is a mindset that:
- seeks to understand without prejudice
- builds capacity for empathy, stewardship, and genuine expressions of compassion for others
- allows us to deeply disagree about our fundamental values and beliefs and still honor our shared humanity.
The IB Learner Profile is a set of characteristics that support intellectual and personal growth through critical thinking, reflection, inquiry, effective communication, risk taking, personal balance, and principled action.The Learner Profile Attributes encourage all members of our community to be:
International Mindedness and the IB Learner Profile are actively cultivated in the curriculum and in the classroom.
What is the IB Diploma Program?
The IB Diploma Program (DP) is a comprehensive college preparatory program for juniors and seniors. Students in the DP program must complete coursework in:
- Arts/or a second course in the other five subject areas.
All subjects are taken for two consecutive years to ensure both depth and breadth of understanding. DP candidates may also complete a 4,000-word independent research project called the Extended Essay and 150 hours of participation in Creativity, Activity & Service (CAS) activities.
DP Candidates take the Theory of Knowledge course in both their junior and senior years. This course:
- explores relationships among disciplines
- engages students in reflection and discussion on perspectives of life from different cultural, religious, and philosophical orientations.
How is the Diploma Programme different from other pre-university academic programmes?
The Diploma Programme is a comprehensive and balanced two-year curriculum and assessment system that requires students to study courses across all disciplines. Within this structured framework, the Diploma Programme provides a great deal of flexibility, accommodating student interest and abilities. Through careful subject selection, students may tailor their course of studies to meet their needs.
Regardless of the subject selection, all students in the DP:
- explore the connections between the six major subject areas
- study each subject through an international perspective
- reflect critically on what it means to be a knower, pursue one subject in great detail through independent research
- have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills through local and community outreach
Assessment of student achievement happens in a variety of ways throughout the course of the two-year programme. It includes assessment of student work both by outside examiners as well as the students’ own teachers. The assessment itself undergoes careful review and moderation to ensure that a common standard is applied equally to the work of all students internationally.
Is a lot of extra homework involved in the Diploma Programme?
IB DP courses are typically more challenging than regular high school courses,and so students may be asked to do more homework. The challenge, however, is not always in the amount of homework assigned; rather, it is in the quality of the assignments and the extent to which students engage those assignments. The added benefit here is that students take greater responsibility for their own learning while they acquire the valuable skills of time management and organization.
DP students do not have to forego other important parts of high school life. They may still remain involved in sports, student government, clubs,theater, music, community events, and other extra-curricular activities.Such activities are incorporated into the Diploma Programme through the Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) requirement.
How does the IB’s Diploma Programme compare with The College Board’s Advanced Placement Programme?
Both programmes provide students with rich and challenging curricula and both enjoy national and international college and university recognition. The College Board and the IB issued a joint publication in 2005, IB & AP, which compares and contrasts both programmes.
When do IB students begin taking DP courses?
The IB Diploma Programme encompasses only the final two years of secondary school; this refers to grades 11 and 12. These are the only years in which students are permitted to take Diploma Programme courses.
Because all of our students are selected through a thorough admissions process, we have great confidence that they are capable of success throughout the IB continuum (Primary Years Program, Middle Years Program, and Diploma Program).
In the second semester of grade 10, students will meet with the MYP and DP coordinators to discuss their progress and to determine their coursework for their junior and senior year. Student individual strengths and areas of concern will be discussed when determining appropriate coursework and levels of coursework (standard level vs. higher level) in each of the six required disciplines.
Can students take individual IB courses or do they have to study the whole Diploma?
Yes, students at Baldwin can take individual IB DP courses; Students who enroll in individual courses will receive an IB certificate noting the courses they took and the marks they earned.
What do colleges and universities think about the Diploma Programme?
Colleges and universities throughout North America view the IB Diploma Programme as providing outstanding preparation for university work. Additionally, many of the most selective institutions have established policies that recognize the work students have done. Some universities also offer scholarships to IB graduates.
How does taking difficult courses improve a student’s chances for scholarships and admission to universities?
At a time when increasing numbers of college and university applicants are presenting equally impressive GPAs or percentages, admissions officers must look for other evidence that the student will succeed in the challenges of the new academic environment. Admissions officers look for such factors as the quality of the courses represented on the transcript, the balance of courses across all disciplines, the record of the student’s research abilities, and the details of school and community involvement – all requirements of the Diploma Programme.
Research conducted at several North American universities has demonstrated that IB Diploma holders do enjoy success at their postsecondary studies, often earning higher grades than their colleagues.Increasingly, universities are actively recruiting IB students by offering enhanced recognition or scholarships for successful IB work.
What criteria do universities use for giving college credit to IB classes or for recognizing the IB Diploma?
The criterion varies from one university to another and from one country to another. Generally, universities give credit to higher level subjects with grades (5-7) and up to one year college credit for a good IB diploma score. Due to the fact that the requirements of individual universities or countries are constantly changing, the School cannot guarantee recognition of the IB Diploma or IB certificate. It is the sole responsibility of students and their parents to verify the university/country requirements prior to initiating the IB Program. The IBO website provides a searchable database of countries and their recognition policies. It is strongly recommended that parents contact the universities directly to verify that the information is up to date. Visit the International Baccalaureate Organization’s website http://www.ibo.org for more details.
How will this change or impact my child’s college applications and/or acceptances?
The IB gives our students even greater market leverage.
- In 2011, 30% of all students who applied to New York University were offered admission. By comparison, 57% of IB students who applied to NYU were accepted in the same year.
- 8% of all Princeton applicants were accepted by the university in 2011; 16% of IB student applicants were accepted.
- 7% of all Stanford applicants were accepted in 2011; 15% of all IB student applicants were accepted.
- 7% of all Yale applicants were accepted in 2011; 18% of all IB student applicants were accepted.
- In the same year, IB students applying to UCLA, Penn, Duke, Cornell, and UC Berkeley were accepted at a rate at least 10% higher by college than the general applicant pool.
Will my child still receive the college preparatory education for which Baldwin is known?
The International Baccalaureate is widely recognized as the world's elite college preparatory program by colleges and universities worldwide, and it will give our students an even greater advantage in college admissions. The IB promotes an approach to learning that prepares students not only for the rigors of university study, but also for the complexities of adult life. More so, the IB approach is consistent with Baldwin's mission to develop "culturally aware citizens who positively impact our diverse world". The IB will improve upon the rich tradition and excellent reputation of Baldwin School.
"Simply stated, IB is considered an international gold standard. Students who complete the full IB Diploma program are considered to be exceptionally well prepared for college, and our data show that they perform well at Boston College."
"Tufts is aware that the IB curriculum, and the full diploma program in particular, is very rigorous course of study that prepares students well for university level work. Completion of the full diploma is recognized by the admissions committee, and can be rewarded with pre-matriculation credit upon enrollment at Tufts."