International Baccalaureate Programme sets high expectations, rigor for students

High school is meant to prepare students for college; and giving them the best preparation is key to success. The International Baccalaureate Programme has been a success since it was established at Bryan High in 2010. Students participating in the programme have learned superior test taking skills, essay writing, time management, and many other skills that will prepare them for college.

“I chose IB because I felt like it would be the best option for me and the best path to prepare me for college because I plan on going to college and getting my degrees and hopefully getting a sustainable job,” junior Annabel Lee said. “It’s a slight change for sure, but the main thing is that you have to keep up with your work. The teachers are great and the programme is amazing, so I definitely recommend it.”

The IB programme is a 2-year curriculum in the 11th and 12th grade. IB Diploma candidates choose one course from each of the 6 areas: English, Math, Science, Foreign Language, History, and an elective, as well as complete a Theory of Knowledge course, an extended essay, and a creativity, action, and service component.

“I think it presents more of a challenge to the young people instead of just going through the regular classes each day and getting the same kind of learning,” senior Troy Chumchal said. “It is a different kind of experience that students won’t get through a regular class or even an AP class.”

Additionally, within the IB programme, there are two different courses of study: diploma and certificate.

“Certificate is the term for students who take individual IB courses rather than the full diploma slate of classes,” IB coordinator Sarah Patterson said. “Not all IB courses are open to certificate students. Certificate students still earn the weighted GPA and can earn college credit, but they do not experience the synergistic effect of the classes overlapping and complementing each other in the diploma.”

The IB programme provides a well-rounded, rigorous education for students with high expectations.

“I want to get into a good school, make my grandma proud of me, and work hard,” junior Deion Johnson said. “IB has helped improve my study habits, write essays, and become more prepared for college.”

However, the difficulty of the courses help develop skills that will aid students in their other IB courses, as well as prepare them for college.

“They can expect to be challenged, not only with academic information, but also with entertaining and evaluating other viewpoints,” Patterson said. “They will have to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses and act on these findings.”

Along with challenging classes, IB emphasizes written components and service within the programme.

“IB curriculum is well-rounded, and all courses contain a written component, which emphasizes the importance of writing across all subject areas,” IB English teacher Lisa Prejean said. “The Diploma Programme also requires students to engage in CAS (creativity, activity, and service) experiences, which helps to broaden the student’s concept of his/her place in the world.”

The rigorous study has helped students prepare for college, which is approaching fast for the seniors.

“I chose IB because I wanted to push myself,” senior Kristen Paholek said. “I wanted to do the most difficult classes I could so that I could also do better through college.”

However, there is the question of whether or not one should do IB when there are AP classes available.

“The way students are assessed in IB serves as the major difference between IB and AP,” Prejean said. “The analytical skills of my IB students are assessed both through written and oral expression over a two-year period. Students complete a guided essay, a prepared oral presentation, and two timed writings. All of these assessments contribute to the overall IB grade.”

Texas state law mandates that a student who earns the IB Diploma with 4s or higher (out of seven) on all tests receive no less than 24 hours of college credit at any public school in Texas.

“Some of our students have earned almost 50 credit hours from IB,” Patterson said. “Prestigious universities and scholarship committees know the caliber of IB and give students in IB special considerations.”

Furthermore, IB is not just a great learning experience, it’s a way for students and teachers to come together.

“One of the benefits of IB is having your other IB classmates,” Annabel said. “You all become one big family that you build lifelong relationships with because you’re all in the same boat. All our teachers are awesome, they genuinely care about their students and want to make sure their students succeed.”

Collectively, students expressed that they believe the IB teachers have excellent subject area knowledge and are passionate about teaching. Moreover, they care about their students and push them to excel.

“The classes may seem difficult at first, but the teachers really do help,” Kristen said. “They’ll always support you and give you the best feedback they can.”

The IB program provides a difficult yet rewarding course of study for students who wish to be challenged within their high school careers. Many students continue to reap the benefits of IB both in college and in their daily life.

“Students should choose IB because I think it’s the best program,” Annabel said. “It is prestigious and rewarding. Overall, it’s a great experience to have.”