By Cherilyn Bacon Eagar
Director, World Class Education Research
Since 2005, the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB) has been under scrutiny in several states. As its history, leadership, mission, partnerships, philosophy, pedagogy and costs become more widely known, the IB program has received mixed reviews.
Concerns about IBO partnerships with the United Nations, UNESCO and the IBO endorsement of The Earth Charter have prompted the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) to respond with “Facts vs. Myths” flyers
In addition, almost no empirical research is available on the effectiveness of IB in comparison to other gifted programs. The only empirical study available shows that the IB program yields no significant difference among IB gifted students compared to students in other gifted programs
. Another is merely a survey of graduate perspectives, showing a positive correlation.
In 2007, the IBO encouraged teachers to show evidence to support their IB Programs and provided instructions and criteria on its website
. However, again this evidence cannot prove that the IB program has an exclusive lock on higher results compared to other gifted programs. In both studies, gifted IB students were isolated from the students in the general program in homogeneous groupings, which is typical for IB programs.
Likewise, the rate at which colleges and universities may or may not be accepting IB diploma students has no rational, empirical basis to indicate that IB students would not have performed as well in other gifted programs. This IBO-commissioned study
is more reflective of college perception and good IBO marketing.
In Utah, sufficient data to examine the costs has not been available, due to lack of tracking and the problem of no state accountability from an international administration.
Over the next few days, I will submit blog entries to address the truth and error in the IBO’s responses to concerns that have caused other states and schools to review the program and in some cases to discontinue it, in spite of popularity and growth. (See CA
, and AZ
). The citations are from primary sources including the IBO website, IBO leaders, IBO partners or proponents of international education.
The three main areas of concern are:
1. History, funding, partnerships, mission, administration and arbitration.
2. Cost, growth, impact on student achievement and college entrance.
3. Philosophy, curriculum, pedagogy and testing.
The IBO’s responses to the following charges may be accessed at the IBO website
. Hillcrest and West High Schools also provided me with similar flyers. Here is a summary of the myths that the IBO has addressed in its promotional literature:
Critics have claimed that the IB is “a western system,” “a Swiss export,” and is “funded by UNESCO.” It has been said that “IB Programs are pilot programs for UNESCO and the UN,” “developed for the purpose of creating an ‘international education system’ and that it is “only for private and international schools” and “hasn’t moved on since it was launched in 1968.”
Additional complaints are that the “IB is very expensive,” is “not a well-recognized qualification,” is “only for Diploma Programme students,” is an “elite club,” and is “only for the brightest students.”
Some have accused the IBO of promoting “a left-wing agenda, socialism, disarmament, radical environmentalism, and moral relativism, while attempting to undermine Christian religious values and national sovereignty.” They believe “the world view taught by IB includes the promotion of the Earth Charter” and find evidence that “America’s foundational principles of national sovereignty, natural law and inalienable rights are at odds with the IB curriculum and are not taught.”
Others find that IB Programs are “non-academic ‘fad’ programs and many colleges and universities will not accept IB courses as fulfilling undergraduate requirements for admissions.” Some are concerned that the “IB examination assessment is not thorough enough,” and others say that “all tests and papers of American [IB] students are sent to Europe/Geneva for grading and evaluation.”
Where’s the truth here? In my next blog entry we’ll begin to explore the answers. I would love to see hear from you on this.
NOTE: Cherilyn Bacon Eagar is a former teacher, researcher, and mother who has analyzed the IB program in significant depth. Senator Dayton has invited her to offer her perspective as a guest blogger on the Senate Site.