Key findings from research on the impact of IB programs in the Americas show distinct benefits of IB vs. non-IB curricula.
– Four-year graduation rates at all four-year universities (79%) were higher than the national average (39%)
– Scores higher on nine out of 10 items that tested knowledge of US government structure, functioning and history
– More likely to enroll in college, to enroll in selective colleges, to stay enrolled and to perform better than similar non-DP graduates
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Global Research department collaborates with universities and independent research organizations worldwide to produce rigorous studies examining the impact and outcomes of the IB’s four programs. In addition, many researchers — independent of the IB — produce quality studies on the effects of IB programs. This information sheet provides a brief overview of key findings from recent research, both external and commissioned, on IB programs from 2012 to 2015.
Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP) studies
• A study investigated the mathematics self-efficacy and self-regulatory skills of PYP students in three schools in the United States. Findings indicated that teachers were aware of IB curriculum elements and implemented them in the classroom. Goal-setting, monitoring, collaboration and reflection appeared to be beneficial self-regulatory practices that supported student learning. Additionally, high-achieving students were found to be more likely to engage in strategic thinking before, during and after mathematics problem-solving than average and low-achieving students (Kitsantas and Miller, 2015).
• Utilizing a mixed-methods case study, an investigation explored the perceptions of administrators, teachers and students within four PYP schools in Colombia. Student interviews identified teachers as the primary drivers of their positive learning experiences. In an accompanying survey, 89.3% of PYP students indicated that they enjoyed being a student at their school while over 90% reported that they were proud to be a student of their school (Lester and Lochmiller, 2015).
• An externally conducted quantitative study in the United States compared the science performance of PYP and MYP students with that of their non-IB peers. The study, based on the science portion of the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP), found that IB students performed significantly better on the CSAP than their non-IB peers at the 5th, 8th, and 10th grade levels (Healer, 2013).
Systematic observation of 85 classrooms within eight Texas PYP and MYP schools in the United States was utilized to investigate instructional practice and student behaviors. Generally, IB teachers were observed utilizing active and engaging instruction while students were found to exhibit many positive learning behaviors. For example, IB students were observed as being “on task” 87% of the time, a much higher percentage than the 73% observed in a similar study of non-IB students. (Alford, Rollins, Stillisano and Waxman, 2013).
Diploma Program (DP) studies
• A study, which included all DP candidates who graduated from high schools in the United States in 2008, indicated that 78% of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions immediately after high school (the US average is 69%). Additionally, 98% continued on to their second year of study. Of former DP students, the four-year graduation rates at all four-year institutions (79%) were higher than the national average (39%) (see Figure 1) (Bergeron, 2015).
• Investigating the relationship between enrollment in the DP and students’ university preparedness in Mexico, a mixed-methods case study found that DP students often enroll in top-ranking universities in Mexico. The study also suggested that academically stronger students tended to enroll in the DP, reportedly due to a lack of satisfaction with other high school options. In interview responses, most students, teachers and administrators indicated that the DP does a better job of preparing students for university studies than non-IB programs because of the DP’s rigor and unique curriculum (Saavedra, Lavore and Flores, 2013).
• A study exploring “academic civic-mindedness” and “model citizenship” in the United States found that, compared with nationally representative samples of 12th grade students, the DP sample scored higher on nine out of 10 items that tested their knowledge of US government structure, functioning and history. Additionally, interview data indicated that the DP strongly promotes students’ knowledge of public policy and understanding of effective advocacy techniques (Saavedra, 2014).
• Comparing matched samples of DP and non-DP graduates, a study examined the impact of Chicago’s IB programs on the postsecondary outcomes and experiences of Chicago Public School graduates. During the 1990s, Chicago Public Schools introduced the DP into 12 high schools serving mostly low-income, minority students with little or no family history of college attendance. DP graduates were more likely to enroll in college, to enroll in selective colleges, to stay enrolled and to perform better than similar non-DP graduates (Coca, Johnson, Kelley-Kemple, Roderick, Moeller, Williams, Moragne, 2012).
A study examining the learning benefits and outcomes of the extended essay on students’ research skills at a university in Canada found that IB graduates rated themselves higher on measures of self-efficacy for inquiry learning and were less likely to associate learning with memorization, in comparison with non-IB graduates. IB graduates also reported that the skills they learned from completing the extended essay were helpful in meeting the academic demands of university coursework (Aulls and David Lemay; Aulls and Sandra Peláez, 2013).
The impact of the DP on academic and non-academic college readiness was investigated by examining DP and non-DP graduates at the University of Oregon’s Honors College in the United States. While researchers found no difference in college grade point averages between the two groups, DP graduates were significantly more likely to persist and to complete college than their non-DP counterparts. Qualitative data indicated that DP graduates were also better able to adjust to university coursework, specifically highlighting a number of skills gained through participation in the DP that were helpful in college, including critical-thinking, time-management and research skills (Conley, McGaughy, Davis-Molin, Farkas and Fukuda, 2014).
Alford, B., Rollins, K., Stillisano, J., & & Waxman, H. (2013). “Observing classroom instruction in schools implementing the International Baccalaureate Program.” Current Issues in Education, 16(2)
Aulls, MW and Lemay, D. 2013. Exploring the learning benefits and outcomes of the IB extended essay in preparing students for university studies in Canada. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, McGill University.
Aulls, MW and Peláez, S. 2013. Exploring the learning benefits and outcomes of the IB extended essay in preparing students for university studies in Canada: Student perceptions of the impact of the Diploma Program and the extended essay on the academic demands of first year in university. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, McGill University.
Bergeron, L. 2015. Diploma Program students’ enrollment and outcomes at US postsecondary institutions 2008–2014. Bethesda, MD, USA. International Baccalaureate Organization.
Coca, V, Johnson, D, Kelley-Kemple, T, Roderick, M, Moeller, E, Williams, N, and Moragne, K. 2012. Working to my potential: Experiences of CPS students in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Chicago, IL, USA. The Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Conley, D, McGaughy, C, Davis-Molin W, Farkas R and Fukuda, E. 2014. International Baccalaureate Diploma Program: Examining college readiness. Bethesda, MD, USA. International Baccalaureate Organization.
Healer, MI. 2013. “A quasi-experimental quantitative study of the effect of IB on science performance.” (Order No.
3573948, University of Phoenix). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 102. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1442456284?account id=50153. (1442456284).
Kitsantas, A and Miller, AD. 2015. Characteristics and context of Primary Years Program (PYP) students’ self-efficacy and self-regulatory development. Bethesda, MD, USA. International Baccalaureate Organization.
Lester, JN and Lochmiller, CR. 2015. A mixed-methods case study of International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programs in four Colombian schools. Bethesda, MD, USA. International Baccalaureate Organization.
Saavedra, AR. 2014. Academic civic-mindedness and model citizenship in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Bethesda, MD, USA. International Baccalaureate Organization.
Saavedra, A, Lavore, E, Flores, G. 2013. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program in Mexico as Preparation for Higher Education. Santa Monica, CA. RAND Education.
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.