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international baccalaureate (IB)

“There is no other curriculum anywhere that does a superior job of both educating students and inspiring a true and broad-based love of learning.”

-William Shain, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Vanderbilt University

Creating a better world through education

International Baccalaureate is a worldwide community of schools with a shared mission to empower young people with the values, knowledge, and skills to create a better and more peaceful world.

The program's aim is to provide an education that crosses disciplinary, cultural, national, and geographical boundaries and that champions critical engagement, stimulating ideas, and meaningful relationships. Through deep engagement and inquiry, students gain the skills and dispositions needed to make sense of the world around them and take responsible action for the future.

It is the goal of West Sound Academy, through the IB diploma program, to instill in our students the knowledge that will make them better learners and better people so that we send them off into life with the skills they really need to grow and develop in a successful, happy way to reach their full potential.

Key elements of an IB education

International Mindedness

We aim to cultivate students that see beyond their immediate situations and boundaries and recognize the common humanity in all people and their shared guardianship of the planet.

An IB education helps students reflect on their own perspectives, cultures, and identities, as well as those of others. By engaging with diverse beliefs, values, and experiences, and by learning to think and collaborate across cultures and disciplines, IB learners gain the understanding necessary to make progress towards a more peaceful world.

A focus on global engagement and meaningful service with the community challenges students to critically consider power and privilege, and to recognize that they hold this planet and its resources in trust for future generations. In all IB programmes there is a focus on moving beyond awareness and understanding to engagement, action, and bringing about meaningful change to make a more peaceful and sustainable world for everyone.

The IB Learner Profile

The IB Learner Profile consists of ten traits that reflect the holistic nature of an IB education. These traits highlight that, along with cognitive development, IB programs are concerned with students’ social, emotional, and physical well-being and with ensuring that students learn to respect themselves, others, and the world around them.

IB educators help students to develop these attributes over the course of their IB education, and to demonstrate them in increasingly robust and sophisticated ways as they mature. The development of these attributes is the foundation of developing internationally-minded students who can help to build a better world.

Through the development of these learner profile attributes, an IB education seeks to empower young people for a lifetime of learning, both independently and in collaboration with others.

Knowledgeable - We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance.

Inquirers - We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.

Thinkers - We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyze and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.

Communicators - We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.

Principled - We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.

Open-minded - We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.

Caring - We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around us.

Risk-takers - We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.

Balanced - We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives—intellectual, physical, and emotional—to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.

Reflective - We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.

A Broad, Balanced, Conceptual and Connected Curriculum

An IB education promotes conceptual learning, creates frameworks within which knowledge can be acquired, and focuses on powerful organizing ideas that are relevant across subject areas and that help to integrate learning and add coherence to the curriculum.

An IB education emphasizes the importance of making connections, exploring the relationships between academic disciplines, and learning about the world in ways that reach beyond the scope of individual subjects. It also focuses on offering students authentic opportunities to connect their learning to the world around them.

Throughout the IB program, assessment is ongoing, varied and integral to the curriculum. There is emphasis placed on the importance of analyzing assessment data to inform teaching and learning, and on recognizing that students benefit by learning how to assess their own work and the work of others.

Approaches to Teaching and Learning

Grounded in contemporary educational research, the approaches to teaching and learning are centered on a cycle of inquiry (asking), action (doing), and reflection (thinking). Educational outcomes are profoundly shaped by the relationships between teachers and students. The approaches to teaching and learning emphasize the importance of relationships and celebrate the many ways that people work together to construct meaning and make sense of the world.

In all IB programmes, teaching is:

  • based on inquiry: A strong emphasis is placed on students finding their own information and constructing their own understandings.
  •  focused on conceptual understanding: Concepts are explored in order to both deepen disciplinary understandings and to help students make connections and transfer learning to new contexts.
  • developed in local and global contexts: Teaching uses real-life contexts and examples, and students are encouraged to process new information by connecting it to their own experiences and to the world around them.
  • focused on effective teamwork and collaboration: This includes promoting teamwork and collaboration between students, but it also refers to the collaborative relationship between teachers and students.
  • designed to remove barriers to learning: Teaching is inclusive and values diversity. It affirms students’ identities and aims to create learning opportunities that enable every student to develop and pursue appropriate personal goals.
  • informed by assessment: Assessment plays a crucial role in supporting, as well as measuring, learning. This approach also recognizes the crucial role of providing students with effective feedback.

Approaches to Learning

Learning how to learn is fundamental to a student’s education. These interrelated skills aim to empower IB students of all ages to become self-regulated learners who know how to ask good questions, set effective goals, pursue their aspirations and have the determination to achieve them. These skills also help to support students’ sense of agency, encouraging them to see their learning as an active and dynamic process.

In all IB programs, students are learning:

  • thinking skills—including areas such as critical thinking, creative thinking and ethical thinking
  • research skills—including skills such as comparing, contrasting, validating and prioritizing information
  • communication skills—including skills such as written and oral communication, effective listening, and formulating arguments
  • social skills—including areas such as forming and maintaining positive relationships, listening skills, and conflict resolution
  • self-management skills—including both organizational skills, such as managing time and tasks, and affective skills, such as managing state of mind and motivation.

In the Diploma Program in grades 11 and 12, the curriculum consists of six subject groups and the three elements of the DP core. As one of these core elements, the theory of knowledge (TOK) course encourages students to become more aware of their own perspectives and assumptions through an exploration of the fundamental question of how we know what we know.

A Worldwide Community of Educators

The IB has always championed a stance of critical engagement with challenging ideas, and of combining our commitment to enduring fundamental principles with our drive for innovation and improvement. 

The IB and its programmes are unique in many ways. One of the most special features of the IB is that it gathers together a worldwide community of educators who share a common belief that education can help to build a better world. Each of the IB programmes and curriculums undergoes regular review that involves educators from many different cultures and backgrounds. This review process ensures that practicing teachers play a critical role in the development of each programme. It also means that the IB’s  vision is constantly sharpened by research, both its own and that of other respected academic bodies.

An IB education is designed to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who will help to create a better and more peaceful world. It brings together educators who share that aspiration. Today, as new global challenges emerge at an unprecedented pace of change, an IB education is more relevant and necessary than ever.

What is an IB Education?, 2017, International Baccalaureate Organisation. Available at: <https://www.ibo.org/globalassets/what-is-an-ib-education-2017-en.p


West Sound Academy has offered the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme since 2010.

All 11th and 12th grade students take IB courses. Studies show that participation in IB Diploma courses is the best indicator of success in higher education.

Frequently Asked Questions

The IB’s mission to “develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect” aligns with and expands the West Sound Academy mission. A West Sound Academy IB education focuses on developing the whole student: physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically. Students leave the program ready to excel in university and, more importantly, in a global society.

Aside from the educational benefits and academic preparation, pParticipation in IB coursework gives a distinct advantage to students in the college admission process. Universities around the globe recognize the rigor and value of an IB education and see the IB as the most rigorous program of study in a US high school. Many universities will also award academic credit and scholarship awards for successful examination results in specific subject areas or after completion of the full IB diploma.

Students seeking the finest [high school] preparation available for an American college should consider the International Baccalaureate. The IB offers an integrated curriculum that provides students with the skill needed to be world-class scholars and an educational philosophy that prepares them to be first-class citizens. I do not know of a more comprehensive and appropriate learning model.

Jim Crowder, Director of Admissions, Macalester College


One of the advantages of an IB curriculum is its structure and quality. It is a coordinated programme, well established, well known and well respected. We know the quality of IB courses, and we think the IB curriculum is terrific.

Christoph Guttentag, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Duke University


I have always been a supporter of the International Baccalaureate. It is a thoughtful and genuinely intellectual curriculum with an unusually high degree of integrity and connectedness. There is no other curriculum anywhere that does a superior job of both educating students and inspiring a true and broad-based love of learning.

William Shain, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Vanderbilt University


For many years we here at CMC have considered the full-IB Diploma to be the ‘Gold Standard’. Unlike an AP program in which students can pick and choose which AP courses to take, sometimes based on playing to their strengths and avoiding their weaknesses, the full IB diploma is consistent, coherent, rigorous, and takes two full years to complete.

Richard Vos, Vice President/Dean of Admission, Claremont McKenna College


IB is well known to us for excellent preparation. Success in an IB programme correlates well with success at Harvard. We are always pleased to see the credentials of the IB Diploma Programme on the transcript.

Marilyn McGrath Lewis, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Harvard University


Send us prepared students á la IB... It is the best high school prep curriculum an American school can offer.

Marilee Jones, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


The International Baccalaureate Programmes' emphasis on critical thinking skills, increased content knowledge and an interdisciplinary approach to education not only prepare students for success at the postsecondary level, but also for life and the world of work.

Dr. Kathleen Plato, Supervisor of Advanced Placement Programs, Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

While there are some similarities in that they are both eligible for college credit, there are many differences between the two programs.

 

International
Baccalaureate

Advanced
Placement

Emphasizes process and integration of content across subject areas Content driven
Comprehensive course of study encompassing six areas: language and literature, history, language acquisition, science, math and the arts. Students choose AP courses that fit their strengths and that are independent of one another.
Students also take a class called Theory of Knowledge, write a senior research project called the Extended Essay, and complete 150 CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) hours. No additional requirements
Asks why more than what Asks what more than why
Assessments are graded world-wide with global standards Exams are graded in the U.S. with American standards
Final score (1-7) is determined by many factors, such as papers, orals, and projects, in addition to the written exams. Final score (1-5) hinges on a single written, largely multiple choice, exam.
Only students at approved IB World Schools taking IB courses can register for IB exams. Students not enrolled in AP courses can register for AP exams

International Baccalaureate Diploma candidates are expected to do IB coursework in six major areas, including literature, language acquisition, social studies, the experimental sciences, mathematics and an elective of either arts or an additional course from one of the other subject areas.

Three subjects are taken at Higher Level and three at Standard Level. The Diploma Programme has three additional core requirements intended to broaden the educational experience and challenge students to apply what they learn in personally and socially meaningful ways. These requirements include a 4,000-word Extended Essay on a subject of the student’s choice; a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course that examines the nature of knowledge and different ways and kinds of knowing; and a requirement called Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) which includes 150 hours of personally and socially relevant activity beyond the classroom and, in many cases, beyond the school.

IB examinations are taken at the end of the two-year program and are marked by external examiners around the world. Internal assessments are administered and marked by classroom teachers over the two years; samples of those are “moderated” by external examiners to assure consistency and quality of assessment. West Sound Academy students may choose to participate in the full IB Diploma Programme, earn certificates in individual subject areas, or focus on completion of the West Sound Academy diploma, which continues to be highly regarded by college and university admissions officers.

The IB Diploma Programme option is available to all West Sound Academy students enrolled in the 11th and 12th grade years.

The IB diploma and certificates are awarded to students who sit for and pass comprehensive exams in May of their senior year and complete all other requirements. IB diplomas and certificates are issued by IB and sent to the candidate and a college of the student’s choice in the summer after graduation.

For more information about IB education at West Sound Academy, contact Catherine Freeman, Head of School, at cfreeman@westsoundacademy.org