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Sarah Gornicki Pancost
International Baccalaureate Coordinator
Theory of Knowledge/English/Social Studies Teacher
Why should a student earn an IB Diploma?
An IB Diploma is an internationally recognized symbol of educational quality. Colleges and Universities know that IB Diploma students have taken a balanced liberal arts curriculum and are fully prepared for the challenges of college life. The IB Diploma students are given extra support by the IB Coordinator, work in a cohort in Theory of Knowledge, and write an extended essay. Dow High diploma graduates frequently report that they felt more prepared for college than their peers.
What is the "Extended Essay"?
The Extended Essay is a 4,000 word piece of original research conducted by each IB Diploma candidate. It is completed between second semester of junior year and first semester of senior year. The student researches and writes on a topic of his/her choosing, and has an Extended Essay Advisor, as well as a Faculty Coach to help with the essay.
What is "Theory of Knowledge"?
Theory of Knowledge, or TOK, is a seminar-type course that explores the links between subject areas (courses). It is a critical thinking course that encourages students to examine their educational choices and training. It is taken between second semester junior year and first semester senior year. Students are required to submit a presentation and reflective paper.
What is "CAS"?
CAS stands for Creativity-Action-Service. In order to successfully complete the IB Diploma Program, each student must document approximately 150 hours of out-of-school activities that are evenly split among creative, action, and service oriented endeavors.
What grade are IB students in?
The IB program is for juniors and seniors. Some sophomores may enroll in certain IB courses, but IB certificates are only earned by juniors and seniors.
What are grades 9 and 10 doing to prepare students for the IB?
The district’s 9-12 curriculum is good preparation for motivated, responsible students to participate in the IB Program. There is no required “pre-IB” sequence of courses.
Are there prerequisites for becoming an IB student in grade 11?
In Dow High’s IB Program there are no prerequisites or specific selection criteria for participation in the program. Typically diploma candidates have some world language experience, and take accelerated English classes.
What sort of student should be interested in IB? What skills are useful or necessary to an IB Diploma candidate?
Good attendance and work habits
A broad interest in all countries, cultures, beliefs and customs
A willingness to participate in discussion and to work responsibly with others
A broad range of interests beyond the classroom
Motivation and self-discipline
The ability to self-advocate
My student has been cross-graded in math. Is she still eligible for the IB Diploma?
Possibly. A standard accelerated path (11.3/12.3) works best for the IB Diploma. Honors courses and cross grading can be possible in some cases. Individual questions about math should be addressed to Mr. Bob Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should my student take a middle-school world language class if s/he is interested in IB?
IB requires that each student takes a second language. The more experience a student has, the better! Middle school world language is a great way to prepare for the Diploma Program—but it is not required.
Will a candidate receive a Dow High diploma as well as an IB Diploma if s/he earns it?
Yes. Students will receive a Dow High diploma and an IB Diploma is s/he earns it.
What is the difference between AP and IB?
One big difference between AP & IB is the way students are assessed. AP tests are given in May and students are assigned a grade based on a single test performance. IB students must be enrolled in an IB course and assessment is based on a combination of the teacher’s assessment of in-class performance, a test given in May and, often, a student submitted portfolio/example of work.
I’ve heard of AP, but not IB. Why?
Advanced Placement was started in the United States in 1956 by the non-profit College Board. International Baccalaureate was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1968 as a non-profit educational foundation. As the world has become more global, International Baccalaureate’s popularity has increased. Most colleges in the United States now recognize IB courses. The number of schools entering IB candidates for examinations increased 11% from 2010 to 2011. Midland Public Schools was ahead of many other Michigan schools in adopting the International Baccalaureate program.
I want to take advantage of an off-campus program the district offers. Will that fit with IB?
The IBO requires that students complete all of the course work for their IB classes on campus, under the instruction and guidance of Midland Public IB teachers. The curriculum requirements for an IB Diploma usually mean students do not have enough time to participate in off-campus options such as co-op.
Which colleges and universities recognize IB, particularly here in Michigan?
IB recognition varies widely among universities. It is always best to talk with an admissions officer because most universities are constantly updating their credit recognition standards. IB maintains a website with links to some college policies. Find it at: http://www.ibo.org/diploma/recognition/directory/index.cfm
What are the due dates for the Extended Essay, the IB exams and completion of the CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) component of the Diploma Program?
Exact dates for the completion of these elements of the program vary from year to year. At HHD, CAS is begun in the summer following 10th grade and completed in February of the 12th grade. Students complete a first draft of the Extended Essay during the second semester of the junior year and complete the essay by the end of the first semester of 12th grade. IB exams are given in May of each year.
Who grades my student’s exams and papers? How do I know that the IB graders are qualified to do so if they are not teachers I know personally?
A team of over 3000 IB examiners worldwide grade IB papers, assessments, and final exams. All of them are experienced IB instructors, trained in writing IB curriculum and assessments, and they have ongoing training under the direction of a Chief Examiner for each subject area. In addition, our instructors grade some the papers and other internal assessments and send them to IB Offices in Europe for feedback and a second evaluation by the IBO to verify that the instructor has adhered to IBO standards in grading the papers.
The IB Program sounds like a lot off extra work. What are the advantages of enrolling in the IB Program?
Students with IB Diplomas, who now attend universities, report that their involvement with IB has given them the tools needed to succeed at university and to make the most of their post-secondary education. In particular, students comment on their sense of preparedness, their self-confidence, their research skills, their ability to manage their time, and their willingness to be actively engaged in their own learning. Even more importantly, they have developed a sense of the world around them, their responsibility to it, and the skills with which to embrace the complexities of life. The IBO often employs a variety of phrases to describe these traits and abilities: "learning how to learn", "life-long learners", "critical and compassionate thinkers", and, "informed participants in local and world affairs".
I have more questions about Dow High’s IB Program. Who can help me?
Contact Sarah Pancost, Dow High’s IB Coordinator at 989-923-5408 or by e-mail: email@example.com
Midland Public Schools
International Baccalaureate Diploma Program
Myth: IB is only for students who have lived or plan to live in another country.
Fact: IB is for any student regardless of past cultural experiences or future plans.
Myth: IB is only for students whose parents are affiliated with The Dow Chemical Company.
Fact: While MPS is fortunate to have The Dow Chemical Company Foundation as a financial partner, any student who has the prerequisite classes and a desire to dedicate themselves to the program may participate in IB.
Myth: IB is only for the very brightest of students who are in the top 10% of their class.
Fact: As stated above, any student who has the prerequisites and a desire to commit themselves to the program may pursue an IB Diploma. Several MPS students who have earned the IB Diploma were not in the top of their class. While the IB Diploma Program is academically challenging, there is ample research to demonstrate that students with a wide range of ability can and do benefit.
Myth: The IB is an elite club that does not impact many students.
Fact: The IB is committed to making high quality education available to as many students as possible and aims to attract one million students by 2014. As of the 2010-11 school year, MPS students earned over 1,000 IB certificates. Currently, in the 2011-12 school year, 80 IB class sections are offered between the two high schools. In addition, because both Midland and H. H. Dow High Schools are IB World Schools, IB instructional approaches and curricular strategies impact the entire school environment.
Myth: Students who pursue an IB Diploma do so because they have plans to attend Ivy League or very competitive universities, or they wish to study abroad.
Fact: While some IB Diploma students do have these plans, most attend in-state public colleges or universities, and a few have begun their education at Delta College and other community colleges.
Myth: IB does not help students earn as much college credit as AP (Advanced Placement).
Fact: While this may have been true in years past, it is no longer the case. As IB has grown in Michigan, so too has college recognition. In some cases students have benefited from taking both IB and AP exams in a particular subject area. We always recommend that students and parents consult a particular university’s IB/AP recognition policy and/or speak directly to an admissions representative.
Myth: IB is replacing AP.
Fact: MPS supports both IB and AP in its high schools. There is no initiative underway for IB to replace AP. It is our understanding that AP is moving toward exams that are more similar to IB exams, i.e. more student choice and more writing, and away from multiple choice - dominated tests that cover a broad range of material. MPS currently offers four classes that are designated both IB and AP, and every effort is made to prepare students for both programs.
Myth: There is no value in pursuing IB certificates if the chosen college or university does not recognize them.
Fact: Even if no credit is given, there is always inherent value in taking IB courses and completing the required assessments. Universities are becoming increasingly aware of the knowledge and skills IB students bring with them to college classes. In addition, MPS has had students receive credit for SL (standard level) classes even though the published recognition policy was to recognize only HL (higher level) courses.
Myth: Pursuing the full IB Diploma is not worth the extra effort, as earning individual certificates is equally as valuable.
Fact: While Alma College is currently the only Michigan school that automatically gives Diploma students 32 credits and immediate sophomore status, many students who put this credential on their college applications state that they are given preferred status for acceptance and often receive invitations to join honors colleges. In addition, the benefits of completing the core of the IB program (Theory of Knowledge – ToK, the Extended Essay – EE, and Creativity/Action/Service – CAS) are repeatedly reported from students in terms of their improved thinking skills, time management and overall academic success at college.
Myth: IB is a European program and does not emphasize the cultural history and values of the United States.
Fact: While IB began in Europe, it draws on many cultural traditions. All IB subjects allow for a high degree of teacher choice so as to ensure that materials are relevant to students. By examining a variety of world perspectives, students are better able to understand their country’s place in it.
Myth: The IB Diploma Program in MPS will no longer exist once the Dow Chemical Company Foundation grant money has been spent.
Fact: MPS is committed to the IB DP program. It is an important part of the curriculum that helps fulfill the district’s 21st Century Learning objectives. Plans are currently being made to be able to financially sustain the program well into the future.
2010 IB Diploma Candidates gather at the Carriage House to celebrate their graduation.
Theory of Knowledge students canoe around the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio. TOK meets once a week during second semester at the Home and Studio.
Theory of Knowledge students perform a skit in class. Theory of Knowledge is a course that is only offered at IB World Schools.
Theory of Knowledge students tour Mt. Pleasant's Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture.