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Why We Chose Advanced Placement (AP) Over International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum

  • Why we favor and offer the AP curriculum over the IB Programme for college readiness instruction.

    ·         Both AP and IB will get you prepared for success in college 

    If you want to assure your child is truly ready for academic success in college, both the AP and IB programs offer the very best in college preparatory curriculum.   Both AP and IB offer a more challenging college level of course work than non AP and non IB classes.  Studies show that students who successfully complete AP or IB courses are significantly more likely to be successful in college and to graduate on time (or early) and with higher grades.   

    ·         Both AP and IB can earn the student one year of college credit

     AP students who score a 3 or above (out of 5 total) on any AP subject exam are automatically awarded college credit at any Texas college or public university in that subject, or placed in an upper-level class and allowed to skip a prerequisite course. A student can take up to 35 AP exams and earn well over 35 or more college credits.

     Likewise, students who earn an IB diploma will receive 24 credit hours (generally one year of college) at any Texas college or public university. However, the institution may grant fewer than 24 credit hours if the student received a score of less than four on an examination administered as part of the diploma program.  

    ·         AP courses are taken individually while IB is a prescribed program

     You get more choices with AP.  AP is designed for flexibility and specialty.  AP does not require a set program of courses.  You can choose to take AP courses in subjects that interest you the most and/or that are best suited to your intellect and academic strengths.  IB is a prescribe program that you must follow all the way through to earn the IB diploma. It does not offer the same flexibility as AP.  Once you get on the IB bus you can’t get off.  

     In IB courses, both “Internal Assessments” and “External Assessments” determine the student’s final grade/college credit in a course. College credit for AP exams is determined by scores earned on an exam taken in the spring.  For example, students take the IB exam in May of the junior and/or senior year. The External Assessment comprises about 50% of the student’s IB grade. The other 50% (sometimes more) is determined by the Internal Assessment (teacher evaluation) that the student must complete before the exam may be taken.  The Internal Assessment is moderated by international examiners.  

    ·         AP is an American program while IB was founded in Switzerland

     The Advanced Placement curriculum was developed by the College Board to help U.S. high school students prepare for college.  The College Board is an American private nonprofit corporation, currently headquartered in New York City, formed in 1899 to expand access to higher education for students in the United States of America.  

    The IB programme, and the IB “World Schools” that offer the IB programme, have a history traced to the International School of Geneva in 1924. IB was founded under the League of Nations to educate the children of the League of Nations delegates.  Currently the IB office is registered in Geneva, Switzerland and both UNESCO and the United Nations are partners with and influence IB.  

    ·         More students take AP exams than IB exams

    The IB program is much less common than AP, although that is changing gradually.   Over 2 million students took AP exams in 2015 but only about 135,000 took IB’s.  Furthermore, according to AP, over 30% of US public high school students took at least one AP exam.  While AP is quite widespread, the IB program is rarer since schools have to be able to offer enough classes for the diploma to host an IB program.

    ·         AP offers more flexibility while the IB Diploma Programme is a two-year curriculum and commitment 

    You can take AP exams without being enrolled in a class, but you have to be enrolled in an IB class to take an IB exam.  If you have proficiency in a language not offered at our school, or if you want to self-study for a niche subject like Art History, the AP program gives you more flexibility.

    ·         While all colleges and universities are impressed when students take either AP or IB, some favor AP. 

    Actually, colleges don’t automatically consider AP or IB more impressive on a transcript.  They just want to see you have taken the most challenging course load available at your school.   Each college will have their own specific policy on college course credits earned from AP or IB. You’ll find that most colleges give college course credit for AP exams and higher level IB exams, but not all give credit for standard-level IB exams.  You can search the AP credit policy of various colleges at the AP college database.  The IB program doesn’t have a similar database, but you can look up the IB credit policy of any college or university.

    ·         IB is more expensive than AP

     IB exams are about 70% more expensive for students to take than AP exams.  In addition, IB is expensive for the school to implement (teacher training, program fees, certification, travel, administrative costs, etc) and would increase our current instructional costs by 6%.  We are also critical that more of our American education dollars are going to support a growing number of IB World Schools here in America. 

    ·         The AP values and curriculum better reflect the founding values of the United States of America

    Finally, what is taught and emphasized matters. This is an important point that isn’t mentioned enough in our politically correct environment.  Because IB is an international program, Texas students in an IB program may hear, read and study more about universal rights than the Bill of Rights.  They may be a bit more indoctrinated into being a good “global citizen” and not so much about what allegiance they owe to our country.   

    Why? The IB program founding principles and stated goals de-emphasizes ones nationality, in our case U.S.A. nationality, and emphasizes the values of a new “worldliness” or “globalization” as reflected for example in the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) “A Continuum of International Education”, that states the IB values as: “In developing an awareness of diverse values of different cultures, it is, however, fundamental that students in each IBO programme are exposed to those human values which are recognized as universal; these embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948”. 

    We believe it is important that your child be familiar with the history and values of the United Nations and, most certainly, to be knowledgeable, appreciative, and respectful of the customs and values of people from other nations.  However, we caution that an unfiltered exposure to some of the principals in IB could occur at the expense of other uniquely American values, the authors and their writings that created them, and of the institutions that protect and promote those values.   

    Most importantly, every educational system has a moral goal that it tries to attain and that informs its curriculum.  In the beginning schooling in America was free of government interference. The term “education” appears nowhere in the Constitution.  Education was the duty and concern of parents.  What kind of person do you want your child to be?  What do you want them to learn? When government run public education took hold our schools used to invite students to take their seats in a shared American culture.  We didn’t allow a left-or-right-wing slant.  Our public schools mission was in part to produce students sufficiently proud and knowledgeable of this country and ready to take care of it.  While some will justifiably argue to get rid of public schools, if we are going to keep them, we believe the principles behind the forming of the College Board, and the AP curriculum employed at Gateway College Prep, are closer to our Founders view of how to train young minds than the International Baccalaureate Programme.  

    The bottom line is that while we see some value in the IB program, we believe the AP curriculum is more consistent with our stated school mission “to prepare our students for admission and success at a top tier university, while nurturing a spirit of generosity, promoting America's founding principles, and imparting 21st century skills for living well in an inter-connected world”.