SAT, ACT, A.P. … I.B.?

In August 2009, I wrote a blog post about how families, who relocate to Los Altos, have already researched the strong public and private schools in town. For global families who relocate often, there are additional education considerations: continuity of a globally available educational program … the International Baccalaureate.

The New York Times just published an article about I.B., so I thought I would share an abbreviated version.  As you know, it is eminently helpful to work with knowledgeable agents.  Having served on the Los Altos School Board, Carol & I strive to provide a level of nuanced insight not readily duplicated by other Realtors.

While some concerns have been raised about the I.B. program in the past, there are many families who consider this an invaluable experience for their children. At the end of the day, having the type of quality educational choices available, in and around Los Altos, is important. We would be more than happy to help you navigate your available options, from schools to housing. As you begin your search, we offer to help you with your questions, when you are ready.

Enjoy …

SAT, ACT, A.P. … I.B.?

The alphabet soup of college admissions is getting more complicated as the International Baccalaureate, grows in popularity as an alternative to the better-known Advanced Placement program.

The College Board’s A.P. program, which offers a long menu of single-subject courses, is still by far the most common option for giving students a head start on college work, and a potential edge in admissions.

The lesser-known I.B., a two-year curriculum developed in the 1960s at an international school in Switzerland, first took hold in the United States in private schools. But it is now offered in more than 700 American high schools — more than 90 percent of them public schools — and almost 200 more have begun the long certification process.

Many parents, schools and students see the program as a rigorous and more internationally focused curriculum, and a way to impress college admissions officers.

To earn an I.B. diploma, students must devote their full junior and senior years to the program, which requires English and another language, math, science, social science and art, plus a course on theory of knowledge, a 4,000-word essay, oral presentations and community service.

The I.B. program is used in 139 countries, and its international focus has drawn criticism from some quarters.

Some parents say it is too closely tied to both the United Nations and environmentalism. From its start in 1968 until 1976, the program was financed partly by UNESCO. It is now associated with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and until recently it endorsed the Earth Charter, a declaration of principles of sustainability that originated at the United Nations.

Many schools, and many parents, see the I.B. partly as a way to show college admissions offices that students have chosen a rigorous program, with tests graded by I.B. examiners around the world.

“I don’t think there is anyone who does not respect the I.B.,” said Panetha Ott, an admissions officer at Brown.

Fewer colleges give credit for the I.B. than for A.P., but dozens give students with an I.B. diploma sophomore standing and some offer special scholarships.

The I.B. is also being offered now in some struggling urban schools where educators say it helps put low-income students on par with their richer peers.

Last fall, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave the program a three-year $2.4 million grant to prepare low-income and minority students to participate in the I.B.

As for where you can find I.B. schools, California and Florida have the most, and New England the fewest.

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