Tag Archives: International Baccalaureate

Cambridge International Exams trying to make inroads into AP and International Baccalaureate turf

11 Dec

Moi wrote about “advanced placement” or AP courses in Who should take AP classes?
AP courses tend to attract students who are preparing for college and are very goal oriented. So, what if a student either doesn’t want to go to college or may want a career, should they take AP courses? Since the average person, according to Career Information Online will have three to five careers over the course of a life time, the best advice to everyone is prepare for any eventuality. Even if students don’t attend college after high school, they may attend later as part of a career change. Many former automobile workers are now getting college degrees in nursing and other fields, for example.
Huffington Post is reported in the article, AP Exams: Most Students Who Should Be Taking The Tests Aren’t:

More than 60 percent of students considered to have AP potential didn’t take the exam last year, even though their PSAT scores showed they could perform well on one, according to a College Board report released last week. Overall, black, Latino and Native American students were less likely to take AP exams than their white and Asian counterparts….
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/ap-exams-most-students-wh_n_1273980.html?ref=email_share

The question is not only should a particular student should take AP courses, but whether the choice should be between AP courses or an International Baccalaureate. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/14/who-should-take-ap-classes/

Caralee Adams reported in the Education Week article, Racial and Income Gaps Persist in AP and IB Enrollment:

Each year, about 640,000 low-income students and students of color are “missing” from AP and IB participation—students who could benefit if they merely enrolled at the same rate as other students in their schools, the report says.
It is not just a matter access. About 1 million students do not attend schools that offer AP, and the authors note that only a small percentage of the gaps by race or family income can be accounted for by which schools do and do not offer the classes.
In many cases, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not enrolling in existing programs…
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/college_bound/2013/06/racial_and_income_gaps_persist_in_ap_and_ib_enrollment.html

Education Trust released this information about Finding America’s Missing AP and IB Students. http://www.edtrust.org/sites/edtrust.org/files/Missing_Students.pdf

Caralee J. Adams wrote in the Education Week article, Cambridge Academic Program Makes Inroads in U.S.: Critical thinking, writing are central:

For more than 800 years, the University of Cambridge has been educating students on its stately and historic campus in the heart of England. But the esteemed British institution’s reach goes much farther, and it’s now working aggressively to expand a menu of precollegiate offerings in U.S. schools.
The university owns and operates the Cambridge International Exams, part of a nonprofit division that provides academic courses of study in various subjects with a focus on promoting critical thinking, in-depth analysis, and strong writing skills. It currently serves more than 9,000 schools in 160 countries and students ages 5 to 19.
Cambridge is still a relatively small player in the United States, especially in comparison with the ubiquitous Advanced Placement program. But it has seen rapid growth in recent years. It now provides college-preparatory curricula for about 230 U.S. schools at the elementary and secondary levels in 27 states, up from 80 schools in 2009. This year, 50,000 Cambridge exams were taken by high school students here, a 50 percent increase from 2012…
Analyzing and Synthesizing
While most programs are in public high schools, Cambridge offers curricula for elementary and middle schools, too. At all levels, students are assessed on their progress at year’s end, with high school courses culminating in extensive exams that can translate into college credit.
Michael J. O’Sullivan, who joined Cambridge International Exams last spring as the new chief executive officer, has high hopes for its foray into the U.S. market. He notes that the nation’s decentralized education system and emphasis on school choice make it attractive. And he’s also making the case that the Cambridge program dovetails closely with the Common Core State Standards adopted by all but four states….
The Cambridge approach is designed to be rigorous and deep. In history courses, for example, rather than memorize dates and take multiple-choice tests, students dig into research through primary sources, develop arguments, and present their findings. End-of-course exams require analyzing and synthesizing information in a writing-intensive format.
Math and science instruction is often integrated to allow students to apply what they’ve learned across courses. A math course might include various topics, and, in some courses, teachers can customize the syllabus to choose a combination of pure math, statistics, and mechanics to build a path to the exam, based on the needs and interests of students.
At the elementary and middle school levels, the Cambridge program is focused on English/language arts, math, and science. At high school, however, it offers some 70 courses, including biology, economics, and world literature.
For high school students, the Cambridge exams last six to eight hours over a few days. Multiple-choice questions are limited, with a focus instead on essays, analysis, and even hands-on science labs included in assessments.
Despite the increased Cambridge presence in U.S. schools, it is dwarfed by the AP program, which gave 3.4 million exams to U.S. public high school students last year. And while Cambridge operates in more schools globally than the International Baccalaureate program—which is seen as another competitor—Cambridge falls well short of the nearly 1,500 U.S. high schools now served by the IB. Still, the United States is the fastest-growing market for Cambridge, according to Mr. O’Sullivan, the CEO….
Examine the Claims
To become a Cambridge school, schools must pay a registration fee and annual membership dues to have access to online materials and training. There’s also a charge for each exam. The high-school-level exams typically run between $78 and $86 per student, per subject. The norm is for students to take three or four.
But before outsourcing curriculum, Jack Schneider, an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worchester, Mass., cautions that school officials closely examine the claims of programs. Cambridge, in particular, has a prestige factor that needs to align with the merits of the program, notes Mr. Schneider, who has researched college-prep curricula.
“It might look better than it really is. What are people really excited about? Are students actually learning more, or are parents excited to have a branded program?” he said.
A 2011 study of the Cambridge program in the United States, published in the College & University Journal, said students generally described the program as motivating and stimulating, and more challenging than other curricula. Teachers said the courses prompted students to form their own opinions and gain real-world application of subject knowledge.
Meanwhile, a 2011 case study focused on the academic achievement of freshmen at Florida State University who had successfully earned a Cambridge diploma credential. The research, published in the Journal of College Admissions, suggests the program may offer some academic benefits later on, but it was not an experimental study.
How schools choose to offer the Cambridge program varies. Some high schools have students take a full schedule of Cambridge courses, while others give students the choice to take a class or two in their areas of strength. If students take a certain number of exams in various subjects, they can earn a Cambridge diploma credential.
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/12/04/13cambridge.h33.html?
tkn=ZUVFTvbUkj5IKSx4wQqAO7aagFJga1D9PsNC&cmp=clp-edweek

Here is what Cambridge says about their programs:

About Cambridge
•Cambridge International Examinations is the world’s largest provider of international education programmes and qualifications for 5 to 19 year olds.
•Over 9000 schools in more than 160 countries offer Cambridge programmes and qualifications.
•We are a division of Cambridge Assessment, a not-for-profit organisation and part of the world-renowned University of Cambridge.
•In 2008, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the formation of our parent organisation Cambridge Assessment, and in 2009 we celebrated the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge.
Our programmes and qualifications
•Cambridge Primary is taught in over 650 schools worldwide.
•Every year we receive more than 54000 entries for Cambridge Checkpoint, our tests for 11 to 14 year olds.
•Cambridge IGCSE is the world’s most popular international qualification for 14 to 16 year olds. It is taken in over 140 countries and in more than 3700 schools.
•2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the first Cambridge IGCSE exam.
•Every year we have more than 650 000 subject entries for Cambridge O Level from 80 countries.
•Cambridge International AS and A Levels are taken in more than 125 countries with 350 000 entries each year.
•We developed Cambridge Pre-U, an alternative to A Level for UK schools. It prepares students for university and was first examined in June 2010.
•Cambridge Pre-U is taught in over 150 UK state and independent schools.
•We hold more than 16 000 training days a year providing 6500 teachers from across the globe with the skills and knowledge they need to help their students succeed.
Examinations
•Cambridge examinations are marked by around 9000 highly skilled examiners.
•We produce around 5.7 million question papers each year.
About us http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/
Who we are http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are/
What we do http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/
Our regional teams http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/our-regional-teams/
Our standards http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/our-standards/
Facts and figures
http://www.cie.org.uk/about-us/facts-and-figures/
http://www.cie.org.uk/

Moi wrote in Race, class, and education in America:
Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity; one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.
A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/national/class/OVERVIEW-FINAL.html?pagewanted=all describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class http://www.nytimes.com/pages/national/class/
https://drwilda.com/2011/11/07/race-class-and-education-in-america/
https://drwilda.com/2012/12/22/the-role-economic-class-plays-in-college-success/

Related:

Stanford University report: Advanced placement may not be the cure for education ills https://drwilda.com/2013/04/30/stanford-university-report-advanced-placement-may-not-be-the-cure-for-education-ills/

An interesting critique of the College Board’s AP test report https://drwilda.com/2013/03/10/an-interesting-critique-of-the-college-boards-ap-test-report/

The International Baccalaureate program as a way to save struggling schools https://drwilda.com/2012/04/30/international-baccalaureate/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART© http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews © http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

Too many children of color skip advanced IB and AP courses

5 Jun

Moi wrote about “advanced placement” or AP courses in Who should take AP classes?

AP courses tend to attract students who are preparing for college and are very goal oriented. So, what if a student either doesn’t want to go to college or may want a career, should they take AP courses? Since the average person, according to Career Information Online will have three to five careers over the course of a life time, the best advice to everyone is prepare for any eventuality. Even if students don’t attend college after high school, they may attend later as part of a career change. Many former automobile workers are now getting college degrees in nursing and other fields, for example.

Huffington Post is reported in the article, AP Exams: Most Students Who Should Be Taking The Tests Aren’t:

More than 60 percent of students considered to have AP potential didn’t take the exam last year, even though their PSAT scores showed they could perform well on one, according to a College Board report released last week. Overall, black, Latino and Native American students were less likely to take AP exams than their white and Asian counterparts.

AP potential” as defined by the College Board is a 70 percent or greater likelihood that a student will score a 3 (out of 5) or higher on an AP exam. The “potential” is calculated based on more than 2 million public school PSAT/NMSQT takers in the class of 2011.

Of those, nearly 771,000 graduates were classified as having AP potential, but nearly 478,000 — about 62 percent — did not take a recommended AP subject. The study points out that underserved minorities were disproportionately impacted: 74 percent of Native American students, 80 percent of black students and 70 percent of Hispanic students did not take recommended AP subject tests. A majority of Asian students with AP potential took the exams — 42 percent did not — and 62 percent of white students with AP potential didn’t take the exams.

This year’s report echoes findings from last year’s, as the College Board report last February revealed that while the number of minority students taking the exam has increased, it is still disproportionately low. To add to that, those groups are also still struggling to excel in performance: Of the half million students who passed an AP exam in 2010, just 14.6 percent were Hispanic or Latino. Only 3.9 percent of passing students were black….

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/ap-exams-most-students-wh_n_1273980.html?ref=email_share

The question is not only should a particular student should take AP courses, but whether the choice should be between AP courses or an International Baccalaureate. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/14/who-should-take-ap-classes/

Caralee Adams reported in the Education Week article, Racial and Income Gaps Persist in AP and IB Enrollment:

Each year, about 640,000 low-income students and students of color are “missing” from AP and IB participation—students who could benefit if they merely enrolled at the same rate as other students in their schools, the report says.

It is not just a matter access. About 1 million students do not attend schools that offer AP, and the authors note that only a small percentage of the gaps by race or family income can be accounted for by which schools do and do not offer the classes.

In many cases, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not enrolling in existing programs.

Overall, about 11.7 percent of high school students attending schools with AP classes participate. Middle- and high-income students at these schools are three times as likely to enroll in an AP course as are low-income students. Black and American Indian students participate at about half the rate of the national average, while about 9 percent of Hispanic students sign up. This translates into about 614,000 students missing out on the opportunity.

The IB program offered in high schools to 11th and 12th graders is smaller than AP, but the Education Trust also identifies areas for growth among disadvantaged students. Looking at about 570 schools in 2010, the researchers found about one in 19 students participate in IB. White and upper-income students were more likely to enroll, leaving about 33,000 students of color and those from low-income families “missing” from the IB rolls.

The Education Trust report highlights schools that have managed to level the playing field, as evidence that these gaps can be closed. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/college_bound/2013/06/racial_and_income_gaps_persist_in_ap_and_ib_enrollment.html

Education Trust released this information about Finding America’s Missing AP and IB Students

New Analysis Finds Too Many Students Missing From AP and IB Programs

Programs like Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) are designed to provide high school students with challenging academic course work and a head start on a college education. But despite aggressive efforts — by federal and state lawmakers, private philanthropy, and districts and schools — to expand participation, there remain significant differences in the rates at which students from different racial and economic groups gain access. 

These differences have been documented repeatedly and over time. What is less clear is why they persist. This new report from The Education Trust and Equal Opportunity Schools, “Finding America’s Missing AP and IB Students,” tackles the question head on. Do we simply need to expand the programs to more schools, especially those serving low-income students and students of color, or does the problem lie elsewhere? If we can identify and remedy where and why these inequities exist, these courses can be a powerful means of disrupting the high-end achievement gap, documented in the first report in this series.

Co-authors Christina Theokas, director of research at The Education Trust, and Reid Saaris, executive director of Equal Opportunity Schools, examined spring 2010 test-taking data from the College Board, which administers AP, and The International Baccalaureate and found that nationally, low-income students are one-third as likely to enroll in AP as their middle and high-income peers, while black and American Indian students participate at a rate about half that of white students. IB programs are both fewer and smaller, but similar national participation gaps exist. All in all, the authors found over 640,000 low-income students and students of color “missing” from existing AP and IB programs — that is, the additional numbers who would be participating if such students participated at the same rate as other students. 

The report shows that 71 percent of traditional public high schools in the United States have AP programs. These schools serve about 91 percent of the high school student population. And, as a whole, “AP schools” enroll students who are reasonably representative of the full economic and racial diversity of all high schools, with the exception of American Indian students. Those schools without an AP program tend to be small, higher poverty, and rural. These deficiencies need to be remedied, but only a small part of the national participation gaps can be accounted for by which schools offer AP and which do not.

The real advanced course opportunity gap exists not between schools but within schools. Although the vast majority of students in every racial and economic group attend a school with an AP program, this is not well reflected in who is actually enrolled in AP courses.

The co-authors conducted a school-by-school analysis and examined whether various student groups within schools participated at similar rates. Unfortunately, within-school participation rates in many schools weren’t even close to parity, correlating with significant numbers of black, Latino, and low-income students missing from AP courses. Indeed, if all schools worked hard to find and enroll their “missing students,” the black and Hispanic national participation gaps would be entirely closed, and the low-income student gap would nearly close (90 percent).

Certainly, preparation prior to high school is part of the problem, and the nation’s schools need to work hard on that. But a recent analysis of PSAT scores by the College Board suggests there are far more students who have the potential to be successful, but are not enrolling. The College Board found that 72 percent of black students and 66 percent of Hispanic students whose PSAT scores suggested they had the potential to be successful in an AP math course, as well as 69 percent of black students and 65 percent of Hispanic students whose scores suggested they had the potential to be successful in an AP science course, were left out of the program.

Equal Opportunity Schools was created in 2008 to work with districts and schools on finding their “missing” students. Saaris and his team find that a focus on matching students with challenging high school learning opportunities results in immediate gains on the achievement gap and college readiness, while catalyzing a higher sense of what’s possible in our schools. Again and again, they discover that there are many low-income students and students of color literally sitting across the hall from the very high-level courses in which they are ready to succeed.

We don’t need to re-invent the wheel here. At the vast majority of our high schools, we’re already using AP or IB classes to prepare students for the academic rigors of college. And yet most any educator will tell you that additional students could be benefiting from them right away,” said Saaris. “Some schools are making breakthroughs by studying the issue and quickly deploying innovative solutions to transition all their missing students up to AP or IB course participation and success.”

Lessons emerging from schools and districts already taking on these challenges can provide information for others working toward disrupting current patterns:

  • As one of the first school districts in the country to make college readiness a goal for all its students, the San Jose Unified School District began more than a decade ago requiring students to take the full sequence of courses needed for admission to the University of California system. More recently, district leaders began looking at gaps at the top: in AP participation. Staff at each school analyzed their own data and generated appropriate solutions. And, over time, participation rates for under-represented student subgroups doubled.

  • In the Federal Way Public Schools in Washington state, district leaders spotted the gaps in their data and knew that many of their students would be underprepared for college as a result. They started with a policy offering “open access” to AP/IB courses. But when that produced insufficient progress, they decided to automatically enroll students who scored proficient or better on the state exam. That approach has now been endorsed by the state Legislature, with other schools encouraged to follow a similar path.

As states across the country implement college- and career-ready standards, we must take immediate action to close the devastating participation gaps that currently exist in our most rigorous courses,” said Christina Theokas. “Educators are the backbone of these efforts, and should be encouraged to take steps to examine enrollment patterns at their school, audit entry requirements, examine what students and teachers know about accessing a school’s AP or IB program, and work together as a team encouraging and supporting students in these classes. By following the example of schools and districts that have already found success with these steps and others, educators will be better prepared to close the gap in high-end achievement.”

There is also more work to be done by federal and state policymakers. The report recommends that policymakers make sure that all high school students have access to AP or IB programs, require all high schools to offer a minimum number of advanced courses, and — to help close the large within-school gaps in participation — require schools to report school-level participation and success rates for all groups of students.

Furthering the research in this area is a new report by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, “The Road to Equity: Expanding AP Access and Success for African-American Students,”  which examines successful strategies used by school systems that have not only maintained their level of AP participation by African-American students, but have also been able to increase AP test passing. Released today, the report provides case studies of six districts that provide even more examples for other educators, schools, and districts to follow.

May 5, 2013

www.edtrust.org/sites/edtrust.org/files/Missing_Students.pdf

Moi wrote in Race, class, and education in America:

Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.

A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class

https://drwilda.com/2011/11/07/race-class-and-education-in-america/

https://drwilda.com/2012/12/22/the-role-economic-class-plays-in-college-success/

Related:

Stanford University report: Advanced placement may not be the cure for education ills                                                                            https://drwilda.com/2013/04/30/stanford-university-report-advanced-placement-may-not-be-the-cure-for-education-ills/

An interesting critique of the College Board’s AP test report https://drwilda.com/2013/03/10/an-interesting-critique-of-the-college-boards-ap-test-report/

The International Baccalaureate program as a way to save struggling schools                                                                          https://drwilda.com/2012/04/30/international-baccalaureate/

Where information leads to Hope. ©  Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                           http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                      https://drwilda.com/

The International Baccalaureate program as a way to save struggling schools

30 Apr

In The International Baccalaureate program and vocational students, moi said this:

There is an “arms race” going on in American Education. More people are asking whether college is the right choice for many. The U.S. has de-emphasized high quality vocational and technical training in the rush to increase the number of students who proceed to college in pursuit of a B.A. Often a graduate degree follows. The Harvard paper, Pathways to Prosperity argues for more high quality vocational and technical opportunities:

The implication of this work is that a focus on college readiness alone does not equip young people with all of the skills and abilities they will need in the workplace, or to successfully complete the transition from adolescence to adulthood. This was highlighted in a 2008 report published by Child Trends, which compared research on the competencies required for college readiness, workplace readiness and healthy youth development. The report found significant overlaps. High personal expectations, self-management, critical thinking, and academic achievement are viewed as highly important for success in all three areas. But the report also uncovered some striking differences. For instance: while career planning, previous work experience, decision making, listening skills, integrity, and creativity are all considered vital in the workplace, they hardly figure in college readiness.

http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/features/2011/Pathways_to_Prosperity_Feb2011.pdf

There is a reluctance to promote vocational opportunities in the U.S. because the is a fear of tracking individuals into vocational training and denying certain groups access to a college education. The compromise could be a combination of both quality technical training with a solid academic foundation. Individuals may have a series of careers over the course of a career and a solid foundation which provides a degree of flexibility is desired for survival in the future. See, Why go to college? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/why-go-to-college/

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/the-international-baccalaureate-program-and-vocational-students/

Claudia Rowe has written the Seattle Times article, Can more rigorous academics help Rainier Beach?

Rarely have the stakes been so high at Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School:

Student enrollment continues to plummet. Test scores continue to droop. And whispers of imminent closure abound.

But with 1,700 teenagers in Rainier Beach’s attendance zone, most of them now traveling out of the neighborhood to get their education, Seattle needs the beleaguered South End high school to succeed as never before — and in a big way.

The answer?

Parents at Rainier Beach believe it lies in a rigorous academic program created in Switzerland for the children of diplomats. And if they earn the necessary certification, Rainier Beach will become Seattle’s next International Baccalaureate World School, a place where college-bound students take a rigorous slate of advanced courses and test their performance against some of the most privileged young people on earth.

You could call it a Hail Mary pass for survival.

The IB program, as it is known, has a track record of saving schools previously written off, using teens’ natural impulse toward challenge and questioning to ignite an interest in education on their terms. This has worked in places like inner-city Chicago and in the poorer areas of California’s Central Valley, where teachers have seen many once-struggling students blossom as school leaders.

Closer to home, the IB has already effected similar turnarounds in Tacoma, and in Seattle, at Ingraham and Chief Sealth high schools.

But the high-minded, internationally focused program also forces confrontation with uncomfortable realities: IB’s college-prep focus tends to attract whiter, more affluent families; it requires academic skills that many students entering Rainier Beach do not possess. And at a high-poverty school like Beach, its price alone could be a deal-breaker — no matter how talented the students.

“When I saw that it cost over $700 to take the tests, I was like, ‘Whoa!’ ” said Kaeleabe Teferi, 17, a senior at Ingraham, which has been offering the IB for a decade. “I don’t qualify for free-and-reduced lunch, but it was still kind of a hard-sell with my parents.”

Kaeleabe is one of the few black students in line for an IB diploma at Ingraham this year, a fact he shrugs off and attributes to the dearth of black youth enrolled in honors classes, which act as a feeder system for the program.

But an image of elitism clings to the International Baccalaureate and remains a concern for parents at Rainier Beach, well aware that their students are — in numerous ways — not typical IB kids.

“It’s a predominantly white program — that’s what you see when you look at the literature, all white faces,” said Carlina Brown, president of Beach’s parent-teacher-student association.

“So I was like, ‘How am I going to present this to parents who are almost entirely black?’ ”

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018096833_rainierbeachib29m.html

Other Seattle schools who have started International Baccalaureate programs have had some success according to Rowe.

Tamar Lewin has a great article in the New York Times which describes the International Baccalaureate program. In International Program Catches On In U.S. Schools Lewin reports:      

The alphabet soup of college admissions is getting more complicated as the International Baccalaureate, or I.B., grows in popularity as an alternative to the better-known Advanced Placement program.

The College Board’s A.P. program, which offers a long menu of single-subject courses, is still by far the most common option for giving students a head start on college work, and a potential edge in admissions.

The lesser-known I.B., a two-year curriculum developed in the 1960s at an international school in Switzerland, first took hold in the United States in private schools. But it is now offered in more than 700 American high schools — more than 90 percent of them public schools — and almost 200 more have begun the long certification process.

Many parents, schools and students see the program as a rigorous and more internationally focused curriculum, and a way to impress college admissions officers.

To earn an I.B. diploma, students must devote their full junior and senior years to the program, which requires English and another language, math, science, social science and art, plus a course on theory of knowledge, a 4,000-word essay, oral presentations and community service….

“Our students don’t have as much diversity as people in some other areas, so this makes them open their eyes,” said Deb Pinkham, the program’s English teacher.

The I.B. program is used in 139 countries, and its international focus has drawn criticism from some quarters.

Some parents say it is anti-American and too closely tied to both the United Nations and radical environmentalism. From its start in 1968 until 1976, the program was financed partly by Unesco. It is now associated with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and until recently it endorsed the Earth Charter, a declaration of principles of sustainability that originated at the United Nations.

“When there is a program at the school with a specific agenda, which in this case is the United Nations agenda, I have a problem with it,” said Ann Marie Banfield, who unsuccessfully opposed the adoption of the I.B. program in Bedford, N.H.

Others object to its cost — the organization charges $10,000 a year per school, $141 per student and $96 per exam — and say it is neither as effective as the A.P. program nor likely to reach as many students.

We have 337 kids, and 80 of them take at least one of our 16 A.P. classes,” said John Eppolito, a parent who opposes the planned introduction of the I.B. in Incline Village, Nev. “If we switched to the I.B., the district estimates that 15 kids would get a I.B. diploma in two years.”

I.B. opponents have created a Web site, truthaboutib.com, to serve as a clearinghouse for their views.

Many schools, and many parents, see the I.B. partly as a way to show college admissions offices that students have chosen a rigorous program, with tests graded by I.B. examiners around the world. …[Emphasis Added]

One of the educators interviewed in the Lewin article observed that the IB program might be better suited for kids who are more creative and either are not as good or do not like to memorize. There shouldn’t be a one size fits all in education and parents should be honest about what education options will work for a particular child. Even children from the same family may find that different education options will work for each child.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©