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IB Classes Offer Challenges to Students

Classes are designed to bring out the best in students who take IB classes.

Editor's Note: Mount Pleasant-Sturtevant Patchers raised questions about the value of the International Baccalaureate Program after Patch ran a story about the Case High School graduation and the six students who qualified for a full IB diploma.

Students at Case can choose to take individual IB classes or they can pursue the IB full diploma, which requires prescribed courses and exams, a 4000-word research essay, a specialized course called Theory of Knowledge, and a creativity/activity/service component. But no matter which they choose, said IB Coordinator Patty Hammes, all IB learners’ benefit.

“These are students who are choosing to more thoroughly prepare themselves for college and its challenges,” she said.

This May, Case administered 197 IB exams in 13 subject areas. Of the 77 students who took exams, 18 were juniors and 59 were seniors. Those exams are currently being assessed in another country and students will receive their results on July 6. Depending on their scores and the type of exam taken, students can earn college credit.

Higher-level exams taken at the end of the senior year cover two years’ worth of material and result in college credit. Standard level exams are given after one-year courses and some college’s award credit for those exams. As more high schools offer IB classes, more colleges and universities are offering credit.

The IB full diploma carries further benefits. “If a student does the full diploma program, many colleges and universities will look at it holistically and start that student as a sophomore,” Hammes explained.

IB is often compared to advanced placement (AP) classes, which are offered at many high schools. Case also offers AP exams, but does not have an AP program. Hammes characterizes AP as a knowledge-based curriculum for which students take a single exam, and there is no connectivity between subjects.

“IB is a holistic approach, centered around theory of knowledge, the learner profile, and higher level thinking skills,” she said. “Students learn depth of thinking—how to analyze and synthesize, how to write, and how to organize their time.”

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