Current AP program should adopt aspects of IB program

May 2, 2013 — by Michelle Leung

In an era of standardized testing, there are two programs vying for ultimate supremacy: the Advanced Placement (AP) program and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

 

In an era of standardized testing, there are two programs vying for ultimate supremacy: the Advanced Placement (AP) program and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

The IB program promotes a unity, global awareness and depth that the current AP program at Saratoga lacks.

English teacher Suzanne Herzman taught for six years in the IB program at Scotts Valley High School. According to Herzman, one of the reasons she chose to teach at Saratoga was because of the resemblance between the MAP program and the IB program. She particularly likes the unity of the curriculum present in both programs.

"One part that I love is that [the IB program] is a unified curriculum," Herzman said. "IB embodies an international and interconnected [system]. It is the idea that there is a global existence, and the world is interconnected."

According to Herzman, the IB program gives both students and teachers an advantage because of the interconnectivity. Some courses are spread over two years rather than one, creating less pressure to cram a certain amount of material into one year.

"Certainly, students are stressed during the IB program, but since everything is connected, two years allows more depth," Herzman said. "IB program focuses on depth over breadth. As an English teacher, that meant for me fewer literary works but more depth."

Schools using the IB program require IB certified applicants to include a final project, which is comprised of a theory of knowledge course, a 4,000-word independent research essay and Creative, Action, Service activities.

The theory of knowledge courses ensure that students are well balanced in all subject areas. Writing an extended essay allows students to polish writing skills and helps students develop techniques necessary for later college research papers.

IB programs also require 150 hours of community service as part of the Creative, Action, Service activities to promote unity and to give students an opportunity to learn about their own interests.

Like the AP program, the IB program does involve graded tests; however, IB tests involve mostly writing and free response, whereas AP tests include a multiple choice section.

"Assessments are also advantageous for students," Herzman said. "The IB overall score is a combination of several assessments over a few years, not a single high-stakes tests like the AP. For example, papers written in junior year and oral presentations during the school year are all part of the exam. There's very little multiple choice."

The school should adopt aspects of the IB program such as the culminating final project to improve every student’s writing and researching skills as well as prepare them for the rigors of a college experience.

"To be a whole student, you need a wealth of knowledge and skills," Herzman said. "The different classes shouldn't feel isolated [like they do in AP]." 

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