An International Alternative To Advanced Placement

| July 13, 2010

The International Baccalaureate, or I.B., is growing in popularity among high schools across the country as an alternative to Advanced Placement (AP) courses. The I.B. was created in Switzerland during the 1960s and soon gained momentum in private schools in America, though it is now offered mostly in public schools. The I.B. has become popular with teachers and parents who feel its rigorous courseload better prepare students for college and make them more appealing to admission directors. “To earn an I.B. diploma, students must devote their full junior and senior years to the program, which requires English and another language, math, science, social science and art, plus a course on theory of knowledge, a 4,000-word essay, oral presentations and community service.”

Opponents of the I.B. program argue the program is anti-American (the program is offered in 139 countries) and follows the charter and goals of the United Nations (UN). In its early years, the program was funded by UNESCO, and has been funded in recent times by the UN Social and Economic Council. Another argument opponents level at the program is the overall cost of running such a program. The I.B. program charges $10,000 a year per school, $141 per student and $96 per exam.

Despite the criticisms, I.B. programs are even now thriving in some struggling urban public schools and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently donated over $2 million to low income and minority students to better prepare them for the rigors of the I.B. program. It is worth noting that most schools that offer the I.B. still have the AP program in place.