Q. What is a high school International Baccalaureate program? How does it differ from taking Advanced Placement classes?
A. Certain high schools that have chosen to go through an International Baccalaureate authorization process can offer students the option of what’s commonly referred to as an IB diploma, says Jonathan Nelson, IB coordinator at Bay Shore High School. This diploma signifies that a student has gone through a specific curriculum that includes six academic IB courses as well as three additional requirements: a course called the Theory of Knowledge, a 10- to 15-page independent research assignment and experiential learning activities. Students enroll in the IB program, which takes two years to complete, as juniors in high school; at Bay Shore, about 5 to 10 percent of a class opts to earn the diploma, Nelson says.
Student at high schools that offer the IB diploma may also be able to take individual IB courses without completing all the diploma requirements, Nelson says. And IB schools may also offer AP courses, he says. As far as how colleges view one versus the other, Nelson says: “Both offer advanced college preparation.”
Because the IB diploma mandates courses in English, social studies, natural science, math and a foreign language, IB students may end up with a more well-rounded collection of advanced courses, as opposed to students who can focus AP efforts in a certain discipline such as science or history, Nelson says.
At least 10 high schools on Long Island offer the IB diploma. In addition to Bay Shore, they include Commack, Hauppauge, Locust Valley, Long Beach, North Shore in Glen Cove, Northport, Pierson in Sag Harbor, South Side in Rockville Centre and West Islip, according to the Guild of IB Schools of the Northeast website or the schools.