The International Baccalaureate (IB), formerly known as the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), is an international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and founded in 1968. It offers four educational programmes: the IB Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Programme for students aged 16 to 19, the IB Middle Years Programme for students aged 11 to 16, and the IB Primary Years Programme for children aged 3 to 12. To teach these programmes, schools must be authorized by the International Baccalaureate.
The organisation's name and logo were changed in 2007 to reflect a reorganisation. Consequently, "IB" may now refer to the organisation itself, any of the four programmes, or the diploma or certificates awarded at the end of a programme.
When Marie-Thérèse Maurette wrote "Educational Techniques for Peace. Do They Exist?" in 1948, she created the framework for what would eventually become the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP). In the mid-1960s, a group of teachers from the International School of Geneva (Ecolint) created the International Schools Examinations Syndicate (ISES), which would later become the International Baccalaureate Office (IBO), followed by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) and then the International Baccalaureate (IB).
The IB headquarters were officially established in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968 for the development and maintenance of the IB Diploma Programme. The objective of this programme was to "provide an internationally acceptable university admissions qualification suitable for the growing mobile population of young people whose parents were part of the world of diplomacy, international and multi-national organizations" by offering standardized courses and assessments for students aged 16 to 19.
International Baccalaureate North America (IBNA) was established in 1975 by Peter Nehr, International Baccalaureate Africa, Europe and Middle-East (IBAEM) in 1986, and International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific (IBAP) during the same period.
The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) was piloted in 1996 in 30 primary schools on different continents, and the first PYP school was authorised in 1997, with 87 authorised schools in 43 countries within five years.
The IB Career-related Programme (formerly IB Career-related Certificate) was first offered in 2012.
Alec Peterson was IB's first director general (1968–1977), followed by Gérard Renaud (1977–1983), Roger Peel (1983–1998), Derek Blackman (1998–1999), George Walker (1999–2005), Jeffrey Beard (2006–2013) and Dr. Siva Kumari (appointed 2013, incumbent from 2014).
The IB learner profile
As the IB's mission in action, the learner profile concisely describes the aspirations of a global community that shares the values underlying the IB's educational philosophy. The IB learner profile describes the attributes and outcomes of education for international-mindedness. IB learners strive to be:
- Open minded
The learner profile is the basis for all four programmes.
Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum outline and classes
Age Range: 15–19
- Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
- The Extended Essay (EE)
- Creativity Activity and Service (CAS)
- Studies in Language and Literature IB Language A: Literature IB Language A: Language and Literature IB Literature and Performance
- Language Acquisition IB Language B IB Language B ab initio SL IB Classical Languages
- Individuals and Societies IB Business Management IB Economics IB Geography IB Global Politics IB History IB Information Technology in a Global Society IB Philosophy IB Psychology IB Social and Cultural Anthropology IB World Religions SL
- Sciences IB Biology IB Computer Science IB Chemistry IB Design Technology IB Environmental Systems & Societies IB Physics IB Sports, Exercise, and Health Science
- Mathematics (Pre 2019 Change) IB Mathematical Studies SL IB Mathematics IB Further Mathematics HL
- Mathematics (Post 2019) IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches IB Mathematics Applications and Interpretations
- The Arts IB Dance IB Film IB Music IB Theater IB Visual Arts
Career-related Programme (CP) curriculum outline
Age Range: 16–19
- Study of at least two Diploma Programme courses
- Career-related studies (terminology differs across the world – vocational, professional, technical qualifications and other definitions).
- CP core
- Personal and professional skills course
- Service learning
- Reflective project
- Language development
Middle Years Programme (MYP) curriculum outline
Age range: 11–16
Six global contexts
- Identities and relationships
- Personal and cultural identity
- Orientations in space and time
- Scientific and technical innovation
- Fairness and development
- Globalization and sustainability
Eight subject areas
- Language Acquisition
- Language and Literature
- Individuals and Societies
- Physical and Health Education
Culminating activity for schools offering a 3- to 5-year program
- Personal project: MYP 5
- Community Project: MYP 3–4
Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum outline
Age range: 3–12
Six transdisciplinary themes
- Who we are
- Where we are in place and time
- How we express ourselves
- How the world works
- How we organize ourselves
- Sharing the planet
Six subject areas
- Social studies
- Personal, social and physical education
Five essential elements
The IB is a not-for-profit educational foundation. The IB maintains its Foundation Office in Geneva, Switzerland. The Assessment Centre is located in Cardiff, Wales and the curriculum centre moved in 2011 to The Hague, Netherlands. Three Global Centres have been opened: Bethesda, Maryland (within the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C.) in the United States, Singapore and The Hague.
The organisation is divided into three regional centres: IB Africa, Europe and Middle East (IBAEM), administered from The Hague; IB Americas (IBA), administered from Bethesda; and IB Asia-Pacific (IBAP), administered from Singapore.
Sub-regional associations "are groups formed by and for IB school practitioners to assist IB schools, teachers and students in their communities—from implementing IB programmes to providing a forum for dialogue." There are currently fifty-six (56) sub-regional associations, including:
- fifteen (15) in the IB Africa, Europe and Middle East (IBAEM) region;
- thirty-six (36) in the IB Americas (IBA) region; and
- five (5) in the IB Asia Pacific (IBAP) region.
In 2003, the IB established the IB Fund, incorporated in the United States, for the purpose of enhancing fundraising and keeping funds raised separate from operational funds. In 2004, the IB approved a strategic plan to "ensure that programmes and services are of the highest quality" and "to provide access to people who are socio-economically disadvantaged." In 2010 and 2015 the strategic plans were updated after substantial consultation. The vision for the next 5 years was to more consciously establish the IB as a leader in international education and the Board outlined a vision and four strategic goals with key strategic objectives.
Access remains fundamental to the mission of the IB and a variety of initiatives and projects are helping to take it forward in Ecuador, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Spain, Philippines, Malaysia, and Japan
The United States has the largest number of IB programmes (2,010 out of 5,586) offered in both private and public schools.
The IB works with governments and non-governmental organizations across the world and has consultative status as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and has collaborative relationships with the Council of Europe and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).
The IB governance is composed of an IB Board of Governors and six committees (access and advancement, audit, education, finance, human resources and governance). The Board of Governors appoints the Director General, sets the strategic direction of the organisation, adopts a mission statement, makes policy, oversees the IB's financial management, and ensures autonomy and integrity of the IB Diploma Programme examinations and other student assessment. The structure of its different committees are based on respect, representation and collaboration.
The Board of Governors can comprise between 15 and 25 members. Members are elected by the Board on the recommendation of the governance committee, and from nominations presented from the Heads Council, Regional Councils and the Board. To encourage diversity of gender, culture and geography, there are only three ex officio positions: Director General (non-voting), the chair of the Examining Board and the chair of the Heads Council.
Advisory bodies include the Heads Council and Regional Councils
The IB Diploma Programme was described as "a rigorous, off-the-shelf curriculum recognized by universities around the world" when it was featured in the December 18, 2006, edition of Time titled "How to bring our schools out of the 20th Century". The IBDP was also featured in the summer 2002 edition of American Educator, where Robert Rothman described it as "a good example of an effective, instructionally sound, exam-based system."
In the USA, in 2006, as part of the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), President George W. Bush and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings presented a plan for the expansion of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate mathematics and science courses, with the goal of increasing the number of AP and IB teachers and the number of students taking AP and IB exams, as well as tripling the number of students passing those exams. Howard Gardner, a professor of educational psychology at Harvard University, said that the IBDP curriculum is "less parochial than most American efforts" and helps students "think critically, synthesize knowledge, reflect on their own thought processes and get their feet wet in interdisciplinary thinking."
In 2006, government ministers in the United Kingdom provided funding so that "every local authority in England could have at least one centre offering sixth-formers the chance to do the IB." In 2008, due to the devaluing of the A-Levels and an increase in the number of students taking the IB exams, then-Children's Secretary Ed Balls abandoned a "flagship Tony Blair pledge to allow children in all areas to study IB." Fears of a "two-tier" education system further dividing education between the rich and the poor emerged as the growth in IB is driven by private schools and sixth-form colleges. While the number of Diploma Programme state schools has dropped under budget constraints, the new Career-related Programme has seen solid uptake in the UK with 27 schools in Kent alone.
In 2006, an attempt was made to eliminate it from a public school in Pittsburgh, PA. Some schools in the United States have eliminated the IBDP due to budgetary reasons and low student participation. In Utah in 2008, funding for the IBDP was reduced from $300,000 to $100,000 after State Senator Margaret Dayton objected to the program, stating, "First, I have never espoused eliminating IB ... I don't want to create 'world citizens' nearly as much as I want to help cultivate American citizens who function well in the world." Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, meanwhile, believes that IB should be an option for students in Chicago Public Schools. Elizabeth Brackett reports on the IB in Chicago. A report by the University of Chicago concluded that Chicago Public School students who completed the IB programme were 40% more likely to attend a four-year college, 50% more likely to attend a selective four-year college, and significantly more likely to persist in college than their matched peers outside the program." The City of Miami Beach Commission entered into an education compact with Miami-Dade County Public Schools with one of the initiatives of the compact to implement the IB program throughout Miami Beach feeder schools.
In other parts of the world, IB programs have been well received, too. In 2013, The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan and the IB announced a plan that will expand the opportunities for Japanese students to complete the IB curriculum in Japanese. In Malaysia a project has been developed in response to interest expressed by the Malaysia Ministry of Education (MoE) in working with the IB to implement the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) in select secondary state schools. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) signed an agreement with the IB in efforts to widen the options offered for parents and to meet the different needs of students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In April 2014 The King Faisal Foundation in Saudi Arabia and the IB signed a memorandum of understanding to develop IB programs, including the IBDP, in up to 40 primary and secondary schools, with the goal of developing these schools as centres of excellence as IB World Schools. In Peru President Ollanta Humala has committed to building a high performing schools network (COAR) made up of IB World Schools. In early 2016 13 new schools were authorized by the IB as part of this programme. In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has also committed to improving education in state schools by implementing IB programmes and by January 2016 there were over 200 state schools. With support from local organisations, there are 13 state IB schools in Russia. In Spain, various models have been implemented (3 types of schools in Spain: public schools, private schools and state funded-private or ‘concerted’ schools) and led to extensive growth with 140 schools.
Internationally the IB continues to be recognised as innovative, and in 2014 The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) announced the IB Career-related Certificate as a finalist for their annual WISE Awards.
The IB conducts its own research or commissions research from renowned universities or research institutions around the globe. Research is used to understand and track the implementation and impact of the IB's programmes or to support development of the programmes. There is also a wealth of third party research available:
- The International Education Research Database is a source for references concerning research publications related to ‘international education’, ‘international schools’ and ‘International Baccalaureate’. It provides links to the original sources.
- The Journal of Research in International Education often contains articles related to research on the IB or International Education.
- Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in the UK examined the characteristics and trends of IB students compared to A-level and other student groups at universities and documented the results in a comprehensive report.
Allegations of plagiarism
Jeffrey Beard, a past director-general of International Baccalaureate, gave a talk on "Education for a Better World" on 5 August 2010 at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State. The institution issued a statement the next day in which it expressed "genuine disappointment" with the talk, noting that it "drew heavily upon and quoted extensively from a speech given earlier in the year by Sir Ken Robinson", while adding that he "neglected to cite his source or reveal the quotations for what they were". Ken Robinson is a renowned British educationist who lives in the United States. Through an IB spokesperson, Beard admitted that "he could have been more explicit about the sources and authors that inspired him for the content of this speech". In a letter sent to heads of schools that offer the IB curricula, he described this as an "unfortunate incident" due to an "oversight".
In an apparently unrelated development, the Times Educational Supplement revealed on 8 October 2010, that the guides for 14 of the 24 questions of one of IB's marking guides for the IB Diploma Programme contained sections copied from unattributed websites, including Wikipedia. In a letter to schools, IB director-general Beard wrote: "We have and always will take immediate and appropriate action when we discover any violation of our policies or standards." The examiner responsible for the plagiarism resigned from the examination board five weeks after the issue came to light.