The IB Diploma Programme requires all students worldwide to fulfill specific requirements during their 11th and 12th grade years.
Students pursue concurrent studies, and sit for end-of-year exams, in six academic areas, which are broadly defined as:
- "Language A" (generally, the student's first language)
- Second language
- Individuals and societies
- Experimental sciences
- Mathematics and computer sciences
- The arts
During the two years of the Diploma program, a student must take a course in each of the first five areas and a sixth course which may come from any of the areas. Of the chosen courses, three must be two-year higher-level (HL) courses, one must be a two-year standard-level (SL) course, and two must be one-year SL courses.
The IB exams are carefully designed as external standards that support, rather than stifle, effective teacher-guided instruction, which is central to the program at Friends. For example, students have some choice about which exam questions to answer, giving teachers flexibility to approach a subject in the way that best suits our students and our school.
The International Baccalaureate Organization employs examiners who are experienced educators with special training to evaluate IB exams, with chief examiners that have authority in each global region. Exams are evaluated by the regional examiners, working within their fields of expertise, and the exam score counts for about 75% of the overall IB score, with some variation among academic areas. There is no "curve" in the grading of IB exams, but rather one set of standards applied equally to all schools and all students.
The remainder of the IB score is based on an internal assessment administered by the teacher, based on guidelines provided by the IBO for each discipline. For example, the internal assessment may require a research paper or major art project that the teacher evaluates. Each school sends sample work from the internal assessment to the IBO for each academic area, providing an external standard of excellence and accountability for our overall program, to the benefit of every student at Wilmington Friends.
Scores for IB course work are on a scale from 1 to 7, again based on the end-of-year exam and the teacher-administered internal assessment. In order to receive an IB diploma, students need a minimum score of 24 (the maximum is 42); it is possible to earn additional points for superior work on the extended essay and in the Theory of Knowledge course (both described below).
A student's letter grade in a course, the grade that appears on the Wilmington Friends report card, is a separate assessment from the IB score. The quality of work is certainly likely to be reflected in both the IB score and the WFS grade, but the letter grade is determined independently by each teacher.
Students who are not enrolled in the IB Diploma Programme can enroll in individual IB courses. College credit is often awarded for work in HL IB courses, even if a student does not pursue the full IB Diploma.
In addition to the six academic areas, there are three additional requirements to complete the IB Diploma.
Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Course
IB diploma students must also complete the Theory of Knowledge course, which brings together issues studied across academic disciplines. In TOK, students think carefully about language, logic, political and moral philosophy, aesthetics, and relative strengths and limitations of the various ways of knowing. By the end of the senior year, TOK is assessed through an exhibition and a 1,600 word essay. It asks students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. , on a topic prescribed by IB, and the essay is sent for evaluation by IB examiners.
The Extended Essay
All IB diploma candidates are required to undertake an independent research project on a subject of their choice, with supervision by a faculty mentor, culminating in an essay of approximately 4,000 words. It is expected that students will do their research and the bulk of their writing during the summer following their junior year.
Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)
Over the course of their junior and senior years, CAS (Creativty, Activity, Service) is studied throughout the Diploma Programme, CAS involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies. It is not formally assessed. However, students reflect on their CAS experiences as part of the DP, and provide evidence of achieving the seven learning outcomes for CAS. The three strands of CAS, which are often interwoven with particular activities, are characterized as follows:
- Creativity – arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
- Activity – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the DP.
- Service – an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student. The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected.
In order to demonstrate these concepts, students are required to undertake a CAS project. The project challenges students to:
- show initiative
- demonstrate perseverance
- develop skills such as collaboration, problem solving and decision making.
A student's involvement in WFS extra-curricular activities (sports, service, theater, school newspaper), typically, easily satisfies the CAS requirement.