The IB Diploma Programme is designed as an academically challenging and balanced program of education with final examinations that prepares students, normally aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. The program is normally taught over two years and has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.
Since the late 1960s, the program has:
provided a package of education that balances the subject breadth and depth, and considers the nature of knowledge across disciplines through the unique theory of knowledge course
encourage international-mindedness in IB students, starting with a foundation in their own language and culture
developed a positive attitude to learning that prepares students for university education
gained a reputation for its rigorous external assessment with published global standards, making this a qualification welcomed by universities worldwide
emphasized the development of the whole student-physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically.
IB Diploma Programme students study six courses at higher level or standard level. Students must choose one subject from each of groups 1 to 5, thus ensuring breadth of experience in languages, social studies, the experimental sciences and mathematics.
The sixth subject may be an arts subject chosen from group 6, or the student may choose another subject from groups 1 to 5.
At least three and not more than four subjects are takin at higher level (recommended 240 teaching hours), the others at standard level (150 teaching hours). Students can study these subjects, and be examined, in English, French or Spanish.
Students will develop an understanding of the IB learner profile. The ten aspirational qualities of the learner profile inspire and motivate the work of teachers, students and schools, providing a statement of the aims and values of the IB and a definition of what we mean by “international-mindedness”. IB learners strive to be inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, knowledgeable, principled, open-minded, caring, balanced and reflective.
In addition the program has three core requirements that are included to broaden the educational experience and challenge students to apply their knowledge and understanding.
The extended essay is a requirement for students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the subjects they are studying.
Theory of knowledge is a course designed to encourage each student to reflect on the nature of knowledge by critically examining different ways of knowing (perception, emotion, language and reason) and different kinds of knowledge (scientific, artistic, mathematical and historical).
Creativity, action, service requires that students actively learn from the experience of doing real tasks beyond the classroom. Students can combine all three components or do activities related to each one of them separately.
Students take written examinations at the end of the program, which are marked by external IB examiners. Students also complete assessment tasks in the school, which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners.
The marks awarded for each course range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest). Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results on theory of knowledge and the extended essay. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to a certain minimum levels of performance across the whole program and to satisfactory participation in the creativity, action, service requirement. The highest total that a Diploma Programme student can be awarded is 45 points.
Assessment is criterion-related, which means student performance is measured against pre-specified assessment criteria based on the aims and objectives of each subject curriculum, rather than the performance of other students taking the same examinations. Statistically the range of scores that students have attained has remained stable and universities value the rigor and consistency of Diploma Programme assessment practice.
Students can choose to study for individual subject certificates, rather than the full diploma, if the diploma combination does not best meet their individual needs or circumstances.
Quality assurance and professional development
Any school wishing to offer the Diploma Programme and attain IB World School status must first go through the authorization process. The requirements for authorization are the same for all schools, even though the process is administered slightly differently in each IB region. The process is designed to ensure schools are well prepared to implement the program successfully. This is a challenging program that demands the best from both motivated students and teachers. Schools can access an extensive package of IB professional development for teachers and administrators and commit to ongoing professional development. Schools are required to participate in an ongoing process of review and development, using standards and practices that apply to all IB World Schools.
IB teachers are challenged to consistently reflect upon and improve their practice. All teachers in IB World Schools have access to the online curriculum centre, which provides program documentation, examples of student work, and al acts as the hub of an international online community. Teachers can talk to other teachers in IB World Schools around the world, give and receive advice, and post their own example resources for other teachers to share.