I.B. What?

International Baccalaureate Explained


by Siandhara Bonnet, Editor-in-Chief

The International Baccalaureate, or IB, program is an international educational foundation that helps develop the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills to live, learn, and work in a globalizing world.

Leander is the only High School in the Leander Independent School District to offer the IB Diploma Programme, which was established in 1999. Each IB Diploma Candidate is required to take three-to-five hour examinations in each course area. Also, each candidate must complete 150 community/action/service hours and complete an extended essay in an academic area of interest during junior and senior year in high school.

“I think that kids that get an IB diploma have worked really hard and earned it,” mathematics teacher Shawna Queen said. “I think that the time management that kids learn in IB is important and I think the work load is preparation for their freshman year in college.”

IB Diploma credit requirements are slightly different than regular high school credit requirements and even distinguished credit requirements: 4 credits of foreign language instead of 3, History of Americas junior and senior year, etc..

“It challenges you in different ways than a normal high school experience wouldn’t typically do,” senior Benson Chao said.

In contrast to the Advanced Placement, or AP, program, IB tests are scored from 1 to 7, where AP is scored on a 1 to 5 score. IB courses are either Higher Level, HL, or Standard Level, SL, and only available to juniors and seniors. Each candidate must complete three SL and HL courses junior and senior year.

“I know regular classes, not everyone has the same hunger to learn,” junior Alisa Greene said. “IB has a lot more critical analysis, like you learn something and you have to ‘think why did this happen, or what could have happened instead, or how successful was that’ where in AP we learned what happened and took a test over it.”

AP courses follow a curriculum managed by College Board. It offers  awards to recognize exceptional performance by AP students such as the AP Scholar, AP Scholar with Honor, and AP Scholar with Distinction. AP is available to any student in any grade level in high school.

“The AP program teaches you the content to be successful on the test,” Chao said. “[The] IB program teaches you to be successful at everything. It’s not focused solely on academics, it also makes you engaged in global issues, community service, and a bunch of different things that the AP program wouldn’t do.”

Most colleges recognize both IB and AP credits, although they are more familiar with the AP curriculum. Just because a student is in IB, however, does not mean the student isn’t allowed to take an AP class or AP exam, in fact, it’s encouraged. Although the curriculum is slightly different, most teachers don’t mind preparing students for each exam.

“I teach the AP curriculum,” Queen said, “but then as we go throughout the year, I point out ‘for IB you’ll need this, for IB you’ll need that.'”