Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Measuring College Success for International Baccalaureate Diploma and Certificate Candidates

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Measuring College Success for International Baccalaureate Diploma and Certificate Candidates

Article excerpt

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Numerous studies have been conducted which show a rigorous high school course of study contributes to academic success in college for both domestic and international students (Adelman, 2006; Breland, Maxey, Gernand, Cumming, & Trapani, 2002; Geiser, 2008; Geiser & Santelices, 2004). The International Baccalaureate Program is one type of specific high school curriculum that has been linked to success in college (Bergeron, 2015; Caspary & Bland, 2011; Duevel, 1999; Shah, Dean, & Chen, 2010; Thomas, 1991). However, within the worldwide International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, there are two different paths available to students: the full IB Diploma Program (IBDP) and the certificate program track (IBO, 2017) The IBDP consists of six IB courses (three standard level and three higher level courses) completed over a 2-year period for juniors and seniors, in addition to a three-semester Theory of Knowledge course and a 4,000-word extended essay on a topic of the students' choosing. Each diploma candidate must also complete at least 150 hr of self-directed volunteer work over the 2-year period in the categories of creativity, action, and service (Chmelynski, 2005; IBO, 2017).

Within the IB curriculum, not every student has the ability or scope of knowledge to qualify for an IBDP schedule and excel in six different subject areas, including a second language (Chmelynski, 2005; GazdaGrace, 2002; IBO, 2017). In many IB schools, students who are either academically unqualified or unwilling to take the six IB courses (plus Theory of Knowledge) required for a full IB diploma are able to take individual IB certificates in the IB courses appropriate for their learning and ability levels (IBO, 2017). Additionally, since the pursuit of an IB diploma or individual certificates requires a commitment to a 2-year course of study, the program choice usually has to be made during a student's sophomore year. Students often feel ill equipped and unprepared to make such an important decision so early in their high school careers (Mayer, 2008; Taylor & Porath, 2006).

As popular as the IB curriculum has become, few studies have been conducted to compare college acceptance and completion rates for IBDP candidates versus certificate students (Caspary, 2011). Almost all of the research currently available on college admission and success for IB students is based on research studies commissioned and sponsored by the International Baccalaureate Organization (Bergeron, 2015; Caspary, 2011; Caspary & Bland, 2011; Shah et al., 2010), and there is an important academic need for IB research to be conducted outside of the umbrella of the IBO.

Furthermore, at the collegiate level, if highly competitive colleges and universities in the United States are using IBDP participation as a factor in college admission, it is important to study the eventual collegiate success of those students in comparison to their non-DP peers to ascertain if there are noticeable differences between the two groups.

Both new and well-established international schools using the IB curriculum are faced with the same dilemma-is it more advantageous to require all high school juniors and seniors to take the full IB Diploma, or should students have a certificate option? Will students who take the less- rigorous certificate route have fewer college acceptances? Are students who do not take the full IBDP less likely to graduate from the college they attend in the United States than their full IB Diploma peers? In essence, if a student attends an IB high school, is a full diploma schedule necessary to be accepted into a U.S. college or university and a factor in student success once the student matriculates? These are the important and high-stakes questions routinely asked in the classrooms and counseling offices of international schools around the world, and this study adds more concrete data to the discussion. …

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