- Germantown High School
- Information for Parents
Information for Parents
How Are IB Courses Different?
The IB Program is truly unique. The goal of the IB Program is to prepare high school students for quality university life in a way no other educational program can. This program will offer one of the most enriching experiences possible. The IB Program is not a different version of already existing programs that are academically challenging; rather, it blends together key ingredients of many academically challenging programs into one comprehensive piece.
There are three key components to the IB Program:
Academic Rigor: Students learn how to learn, how to analyze, how to reach considered conclusions about humankind, its languages and literature, its ways in society, and the scientific forces of its environment. An IB diploma candidate is indeed functioning at a level of an introductory college student.
Comprehensiveness of the Program: Students encounter rigor throughout ALL disciplines. Students refine areas of strength and developmentally improve areas of weakness. Students also submit a significant portion of their course work for evaluation (e.g., essays, oral commentaries, lab books).
Internationalism: The IB Program encourages students to think globally and the IB curriculum is based on true international standards. An international grading team, composed of professionals from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, grades the coursework and exams.
Some individuals are more familiar with the Advanced Placement (AP) Program than the International Baccalaureate Program. Both IB and AP courses feature college level curriculum. IB uses international standards of excellence; AP uses national standards of excellence. IB is a diploma program; AP allows students to take one or more courses, which are not connected. IB Higher Level exams are recognized for college credit; AP exams are also recognized for college credit. IB has an oral component in most classes; AP has an oral component in foreign language only. IB students prepare for exams in all areas; AP students chose exams in their area of strength. IB typically provides study in much greater depth, expecting assimilation of information and especially an ability to apply and analyze that information. Both programs rely on externally generated and assessed exams; however, the AP exams place particular emphasis on multiple-choice questions. By comparison, IB courses place more emphasis on critical thinking and analysis. IB assessments involve more writing, investigation, oral work, projects and labs. Also, final marks in IB reflect combined assessment by the classroom teacher and international examiners.
Students enrolled in IB courses will be better prepared for university studies and will also have attained a higher level of critical thinking which is valuable in everyday life. Many universities offer significant credit for success in IB courses, as well as up to sophomore standing for the completion of the full IB Diploma. The extent to which colleges will give credit or placement varies among colleges. All colleges set their own criteria for accepting AP and IB courses for credit. Parents and students should check the website of the college(s) they are interested in attending.
Upon completion of an IB diploma, the student has had a first-class education, which is accepted as an entrance qualification for higher education in over sixty countries around the world. Universities are eager to attract IB diploma students because:
• They are recognized as being prepared to accept educational challenges;
• They have self-confidence with university-level material;
• They have developed the capacity for independent research and study;
• They have cultivated sound thinking and communication skills;
• They have engaged in extracurricular activities alongside academic studies;
• They have thought in global terms and have a cultural sensitivity and international orientation.
It is important to remember that the IB Program is not for everyone. Many students want the external benefits (e.g., weighted grades, advanced college standing), but the true benefit of earning the IB Diploma is intrinsic in nature. The change that occurs within a student academically and personally while pursuing the diploma produces great personal growth and satisfaction.
Talking the Talk: A Guide to IB Terminology
CAS -- This is an acronym standing for Creativity, Action, and Service. CAS is the non-school portion of the requirements for the Diploma, in which 150 hours of community service and activity in the arts and athletics is expected. No more than 20 hours can be earned in a single activity.
Certificate -- The name of the document that a student earns after successfully completing an IB class along with the attendant work and exams. Exams and course work for both Diploma and Certificate candidates are the same in any given subject and level.
Descriptors -- The course-specific expectations or criteria for performance evaluation used by the teacher. These descriptors exist in all subjects to help teachers grade internal assessment assignments.
Diploma -- The name of a document issued by IB after a student has completed and passed the following requirements: six exams taken in six different academic areas, three at the Higher Level and three at the Standard Level; an Extended Essay; 150 hours of CAS activities; and completion of Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course. The Diploma is the highest level of IB achievement.
Extended Essay -- A 4000-word independent research paper due in the senior year, chosen and undertaken by the student in one of over 20 IB disciplines (foreign language, literature, history, physics, biology, etc.). The student chooses a school or community-based mentor for guidance in research and writing. The Extended Essay is sent to moderators around the world to be graded. Form is emphasized as well as content.
Higher Level (HL) -- This is an IB course offered over two years and the exams are only available to high school seniors. HL credit with good grades can often be submitted to colleges and universities for transfer credit.
IB program -- A worldwide program offered during the last two years of high school. It is characterized by uniform teacher training and a common assessment system in which exams and other work are graded internationally. The IB program is intended for students who are academically motivated. The IBO is a non-profit organization, with offices in Geneva, Switzerland, Cardiff, Wales and New York.
Internal Assessment -- The individual student evaluation done by the teacher of a subject on pieces of work and communicated to the IB Curriculum and Assessment office. Internal assessments are criterion-based. In addition, samples of candidates’ work, representing a range of performances, are also submitted. Oral exams, portfolios, lab books and essays all comprise parts of the internal assessment.
Language A -- This is one' s first language. For all students at GHS this will be English. It has a literature based syllabus and covers authors from around the world.
Language B -- This is a “learned” language. The aim of this course is to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Students at GHS may choose from French, German, Latin or Spanish.
Moderation -- The process by which the internal assessment (which is graded by the teacher) is evaluated by an external assessor appointed by IBO. After a teacher submits internal assessment samples, representing high to low grades, IBCA will compare that teacher and group of students with others, and re-assign all the teacher’s candidates higher or lower grades, or keep them where they are. The purpose of moderation is to see how closely the school matches the external standard, and to determine an accurate evaluation of the student’s work. This is the process whereby the IB Organization maintains high standards and uniformity throughout the world.
Oral Commentary -- In English and second languages, an oral presentation by each student is recorded for internal assessment. Samples of the resulting recording are sent by the teacher for moderation of all scores.
Predicted grades -- Teachers submit scores to IBO that they think the students will ultimately earn from their total IB assessment. This is another way in which the teacher can see, when actual scores arrive, whether or not their thinking is in line with the International Baccalaureate Organization.
Pre-IB program -- This is a course of accelerated studies for 9th and 10th grade students. This program is designed by the individual school to prepare students for IB in 11th and 12th grade. Beyond expecting that the school will undertake this preparation, the IB has no particular requirements or assessments for 9th and 10th graders.
Scores -- Students earn a single score ranging from “1-7” for each IB subject exam taken. The scores indicate a level of achievement compared with students around the world. Diploma candidates must accumulate a minimum of 24 points, out of a possible 45 points, to earn the diploma. A 1 is low; a 7 is high, indicating excellent or exceptional work.
Standard Level (SL) -- An IB course that must be taught over a minimum of 150 hours of instruction. Standard Level exams are usually a little shorter or less conceptual or analytical than Higher Level exams, but the standard level is generally still more difficult in content and skills than Advanced Placement courses. An SL level course may be examined at the end of Grade 11, if the school chooses.
Theory of Knowledge (TOK) -- A course required of Diploma candidates in every school in the world, in which the concept of knowledge -- its worth, veracity, and forms -- is considered. One essay is required for outside assessment; the class teacher assesses the other assignments or projects.