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International Baccalaureate Program (IBO)

The Diploma Program
The International Baccalaureate Organization’s Diploma Program, created in 1968, is a demanding pre-university course of study. It is designed for highly motivated secondary school students aged 16 to 19. The program has earned a reputation for rigorous assessment, giving IB diploma holders access to the world’s leading universities. The Diploma Program’s grading system is criterion-referenced: each student’s performance is measured against well-defined levels of achievement consistent from one examination session to the next. The IBO has shown, over the course of 30 years, that IB students are well prepared for university work. More information can be found at Hillcrest IB Program.

The Curriculum
The program is a comprehensive two-year international curriculum that generally allows students to fulfill the requirements of their national or state education systems. To earn an IB Diploma, students must take a course in each of the six different areas described below. They must also take a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course, write a 4,000 word Extended Essay (EEsay), and complete the Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) component, which requires 150 hours of work outside of the classroom. The CAS program encourages students to share their energy and special talents with others: students may, for example, participate in theatre or musical productions, sports and community service activities

The six subject areas of IB are as follows:

  • Group 1: Language A (HL) English, which includes the study of world literature
  • Group 2: Language B (SL/HL) French, German, or Spanish
  • Group 3: Individual and Society (HL) history of the Americas and twentieth century topics
  • Group 4: Experimental Studies (SL/HL) biology, chemistry
  • Group 5: Mathematics (SL/HL) math methods, math studies, higher math
  • Group 6: Arts and Electives (SL/HL) music, art, psychology, design technology or an additional science or foreign language

Students must choose three or four courses to study at a Higher Level (HL). These courses are two years in length so that the student studies them in depth. The other two or three courses are studied for one year at the Standard Level (SL). All courses have a final exam that is 3-4 hours long. IB exams may include multiple choice or oral responses, but all exams have an extensive essay component. Exams are graded on a scale of 1-7. Grades are not awarded based on “the curve”, rather students’ performance is measured on the basis of well-defined standards that are applied consistently worldwide. To earn the diploma, students must earn a total of 24 points from test scores, the TOK course, the Extended Essay, and the CAS component. No failing conditions are permitted.
IB is unique because it requires students to move out of their comfort zone in subjects in which they are strong and expand their educational experience into all six areas of study; Science-oriented students are required to learn a foreign language and humanities-focused students must learn laboratory techniques. Students are able to expand their world but they can also do focused studies in their areas of greatest interest and ability.

IB North America has given official endorsement for IB to be offered in Canyon's School District. The class of 2005 was the first graduating class to be able to complete all of the requirements for an IB Diploma. Hillcrest High School has been selected as the site for the program but students from all areas of the district are eligible to participate. If you are interested in the IB Program you need to make contact with your school counselor as early as possible during the middle school years. This will enable you to select courses that will best prepare you for the rigor of IB. Also, because the program is only available at Hillcrest High School, all IB students must make application during ninth grade and enroll for tenth grade at Hillcrest. Your counselor will be happy to assist you in this process.

What are the pre-requisites for IB?
Because of the rigor of IB courses students need to be prepared. Therefore, the following courses should be completed by the end of the tenth grade.

  • At least three years of a foreign language
  • At least geometry and intermediate algebra
  • Pre-IB English taken in tenth grade
  • AP European History, taken in tenth grade
  • At least one Honors Science class (biology, chemistry or physics) taken in ninth or tenth grade.
  • Students should also have met core requirements for Consumer Health, Lifetime Fitness and either the Arts or Technology by taking the courses or passing the HELP tests.

What is the difference between the “Diploma” and the “Certificate?”
To earn the diploma, students must meet all requirements including the CAS and TOK. They must earn a minimum of 24 points and pass all courses and exams. Certificate students may enroll in IB classes; however, they are expected to do all the work in the class and sit the IB exam in the spring. They are also expected to maintain the same academic standards as IB students.

What is the cost for IB exams?
The present cost (2005) for the full diploma program is approximately $550. The more exams a student takes, the lower the cost for each individual exam. These costs are spread out over two years. For each exam over the required six, an additional cost of $54 is assessed.

How much college credit can I get for my IB tests?
Each college determines how much credit will be given for IB courses. Schools familiar with IB typically give the same amount of credit as they give for AP courses. In the Mountain West where IB is less well known, it may be necessary to explain IB to admissions officers. Because the program is international, those students who wish to study in foreign universities will find that an IB diploma is accepted where a state diploma might not.

Why take IB Courses?
The primary objective of an IB course is to provide students with a world-class education that will prepare them for college and the rest of their lives. The rigorous curriculum, the writing of the Extended Essay, the Theory of Knowledge Course and Creativity, Action and Service component aim to produce well-educated citizens who can think critically, write well and speak articulately, while managing time and responsibilities well. Students who choose to earn IB Certificates instead of the full IB Diploma will still benefit from having been exposed to the demanding college-level curriculum. A true, world-class education is the primary reason students choose to take IB classes. In addition, the IB program can help one gain admission to college and can earn credit and advanced standing and even scholarships. (IB Handbook)

How do I know if IB is the right choice for me?
Here are some of the qualities of a successful IB student:

  • IB students are highly self-motivated
  • They desire an intellectual and academic challenge
  • They possess strong written and oral communication skills
  • They enjoy learning and are open to new ideas and new ways of thinking

Should I try to be accepted into the IB Program?
Any student who is interested in the IB Program should try it!!! Consider the following points as you make your decision:

  1. If you start out in the ninth or tenth grade planning to earn the IB Diploma and you later change your mind, you will be better prepared for whatever classes you do take because of the rigor of the Pre-IB courses you will have taken.
  2. If you try for an IB Diploma and don’t get it, you will still receive many benefits from your efforts. You will have received an outstanding university preparation that will stay with you regardless of how many points you receive. Your high school transcript will show that you took IB courses even if you later choose not to take the exams. This will probably increase your chances of admission. (Taking the exams is still the best idea since they are required in order to earn the college credit. In other words, if you don’t take and pass the exams, plan on taking the same courses again in college.)
  3. If you don’t get enough points for the IB Diploma you will still get an IB Certificate for all of the IB course exams you did take and pass.
  4. In making your decision, some advice from two former students might help. One recommends that if you are interested, you should try it. If it gets too difficult you can always drop back into a less challenging schedule. Maybe you will find as she did, that as difficult as it is, you can still do it, and you will end up earning an IB Diploma. The other student compares working toward the IB Diploma with seeking the state championship in a sport. Even if you lose in the final game, the experience is worth it and you will be glad you joined the team and played for the whole season. (IB Handbook)

More questions? Check the International Baccalaureate website at: Or call Dr. Brian Bentley at Hillcrest High School: 801.256.5484 or Holly Bell, Jordan School District: 801.567.8309.

EARLY GRADUATION (Centennial Scholarships)
Partial tuition scholarships, called Centennial Scholarships, are provided through the legislature and administered through the State Office of Education. Every student who completes early graduation obtains a partial tuition scholarship. Students must apply for the tuition waiver/scholarship at a state institution within one year from the time they complete graduation requirements. They must enroll as a full-time student at the college or university in order to be eligible. Early admission students may not be eligible for scholarships and financial aid offered by the individual university or college. Please check with the college/university you are planning to attend as well as with your high school counselor.