General

‘IB’ refers to the ‘International Baccalaureate’, which is a program of studies offered by many schools around the world. At St Mary’s, it is the program which defines the curriculum at the 11th and 12th Grade levels, and all students in these grades must take part in the program in some form. The program was created by the International Baccalaureate Organization, the headquarters of which is in Geneva, and has been growing and developing for about 50 years.

The program is offered in two ways to the students: a part program or a full program. Those involved in a part program will complete one or more IB courses over two years, and for each IB course completed they will be awarded a certificate. These students are ‘Course Students’. Those taking the full IB program are known as ‘IB Diploma Candidates’, and if they complete the program successfully, they will be awarded the IB Diploma. Most 11th and 12th Grade students choose to do the full IB Diploma Program.

Why the IB?

Why does St Mary’s do the IB Program? Why don’t we offer other programs such as the American ‘Advanced Placement’? Quite simply, we believe that the IB Program offers the best education that can be provided at the high school level. It is rigorous, broad in reach, and sets out to promote among students not simply academic proficiency, but other qualities which we hope to see in every teenager: creativity, leadership, integrity and selflessness. Thus, by completing the program, students expose themselves to a wide range of experiences and ensure a high standard of education for themselves. Additionally, the IB Diploma is the most universally recognized high school diploma around the world. Almost every country recognizes the Diploma for college admission purposes, so whether a student wishes to study in the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan or elsewhere, he will find that his IB Diploma will make him well-qualified for college admission purposes. Even those students not completing the full IB Diploma will be well placed to enter college from St Mary’s, as long as they have completed some IB Certificate courses and maintained good grades in other subjects.

 

How does the IB Program Work?

Before a student reaches the 11th Grade, he will be asked to decide whether he wants to take the full IB Diploma or not. If he decides not to, then he will still take a mixture of IB and non-IB courses over the next two years. If he does decide to do the full diploma, he will take six IB subjects over two years: a first language, a second language, a social studies, a science, a mathematics, and a fine arts course. If he does not want to take fine arts (music, art or ceramics), he can instead take another language, another social studies or another science. Diploma candidates can, in exceptional situations, also take extra subjects apart from the six diploma subjects. Additionally, the Diploma candidates have to take a philosophy-based course called Theory of Knowledge, they must write a 4000 word research paper in a subject of their choice, and must be involved in Action, Creativity and Service programs which are not part of their Diploma.

At the completion of each IB course, students take exams which come from the IB Organization. All IB students around the world take the same exams, and they are marked by people from outside of this school.

 

How well does St Mary’s do?

Generally, our results are very good, and well above the world averages. Approximately 70-75% of Diploma candidates earn the Diploma worldwide. At St. Mary’s the average is over 90%. The faculty have high expectations of our talented student body, and are they rarely disappointed by the students’ final achievements.

 

How can I find out more about the IB?

You can visit the IB website at www.ibo.org or contact the IB coordinator at fradalek@smis.ac.jp.