The International Baccalaureate DP
at George Mason High School
A Tradition of Excellence and Expanding Opportunity Since 1981
The First IB DP World School in the State of Virginia
Introduction to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at George Mason High School
Since 1981, the most rigorous course of studies offered to the students of George Mason High School is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). This program of advanced internationally recognized syllabi and external examinations offers a comprehensive and world-class education during the last two years of high school. The IBDP is designed as an academically challenging and balanced program of education with final examinations that prepares students for success at university and life beyond. The program has gained recognition and respect from the world’s universities. In 2015, 87% of seniors take one or more IBDP courses and exams; thus, our program serves a large majority of students at Mason.
The IBO Mission Statement:
The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment. These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.
A Tradition of Excellence and Expanding Opportunity
Currently at George Mason High School:
* 87% of George Mason juniors and seniors participate in the IBDP.
• 27% of students in the Class of 2015 received the IB Diploma - a 92% success rate.
• 28% of students in the Class of 2016 are currently pursuing the full IB Diploma.
• 31% of students in the Class of 2017 are currently pursuing the full IB Diploma.
As our program continues to expand and serve more students we continue to achieve excellence.
The IBDP is the most rigorous course of study offered at George Mason High School. Students who wish to undertake the full IBDP must complete courses in each of the groups shown above and earn a total of 24 points on three higher and three standard level examinations. All six examinations are graded on a scale of 1 to 7 so the maximum examination total is 42 points. Diploma candidates also take Theory of Knowledge, write an extended essay, and must complete at least 150 hours in the areas of creativity, action, and community service. Students who complete all of the above IB courses and requirements and satisfactorily pass the related IB examinations receive, in addition to their high school diploma, the IB Diploma. Students may also take fewer than six IB courses from the groups listed below. These students fulfill all requirements in their selected IB classes and receive an IB certificate for each of these classes rather than an IB Diploma. IB courses are offered at either the standard or higher level. Standard level courses explore a range of topics within a subject and typically last one year. In higher level courses, students study subjects more in-depth over a two-year period.
The IB program is excellent preparation for college level work. In addition, when making admissions decisions, colleges look very favorably upon the IB program as indication of a student’s level of motivation and ability to perform in a rigorous and challenging program. Studies on the acceptance rates of IB Diploma students show that these students have higher acceptance rates at colleges in the United States. Like the Advanced Placement program, many American colleges give course credit or advanced standing to a student who earns a satisfactory score on an IB examination. General information about university recognition of the IB can be found at http://www.ibo.org/en/university-admission/ and recognition/credit policies for specific colleges and universities can be found at http://www.ibo.org/en/university-admission/recognition-of-the-ib-diploma-by-countries-and-universities/. Students who are interested in the IBDP program should consult the IB Coordinator and their counselor.
Mason students can seek individual IBDP Course certificates by simply taking an IBDP course and exam. They may also pursue the full IB Diploma. The IB Diploma requires students to study in six core areas: English, a world language, social science, science, mathematics, and the arts or an elective. For the IB Diploma, a candidate must successfully complete the following: earn a minimum of 24 points on six examinations graded on a scale of 1–7; complete a 4000-word extended essay in one of the content areas; complete the Theory of Knowledge course; and reflect upon extra-curricular activities in three areas: Creativity, Action and Service. In May 2015, George Mason seniors posted a 92% success rate in completing the IB Diploma and averaged scores above the international average.
Students not wishing to fulfill all of the requirements of the IB Diploma are strongly encouraged to take individual courses in the IB curriculum to help them prepare for future education. These students thus earn IB certificates.
The Methods of Assessment
The IBDP is widely praised because of its goal of developing twenty-first century skills in our students. The skills are reflected in the IB Learner Profile and in George Mason High School’s vision. Assessing twenty-first century skills such as critical and creative thinking, inquiry, research, conceptual understanding, cross-cultural communication etc, requires dynamic and complex forms of assessment. Thus, “a variety of different methods are used to measure student achievement against the objectives for each [IB] course.”
An IB exam “score” is the result of both external assessments and internal assessments. Internal assessments are initially assessed by classroom teachers and moderated by IBO examiners. External assessments are wholly assessed by IB examiners and include:
- structured problems
- short-response questions
- data-response questions
- text-response questions
- case-study questions
- multiple-choice questions [limited to a small portion of Group 4 (Science) assessments]
(“Diploma Program Assessment Methods,” n.d.)
Groups of study:
At George Mason High School, we offer the following IBDP courses (please see the program of studies for further details on courses):
Group 1: Studies in language and literature
- IB Language A: Literature HL
- IB Language A: Language and Literature SL
- IB Literature Self Taught SL (for a student with an advanced native fluency in a language other than English, generally we only offer this program to transfer students)
Group 2: Second Languages
- IB Language B (for students who studied a language for four to six years) – Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese and/or English B (for advanced ESOL students) HL/SL
- IB ab initio (for students after two or three years of study) – this examination is only offered to students who did not have an opportunity to successfully study a second language for four to six years
Group 3: Individual and Societies (Social Studies)
- IB History HL/SL
- IB Psychology HL/SL
- IB Business and Management SL
- IB Economics SL
- IB Social and Cultural Anthropology SL
- IB Environmental Systems SL (an inter-disciplinary science course)
Group 4: Experimental Sciences
- IB Biology HL
- IB Chemistry HL/SL
- IB Environmental Systems SL (an inter-disciplinary science course)
- IB Physics HL/SL
- IB Computer Science HL/SL (this course counts as a science class for the IB Diploma, but not Virginia graduation requirements).
Group 5: Mathematics
- IB Mathematics HL/SL
- IB Math Studies SL
Group 6: Arts or Electives
- IB Visual Arts HL/SL
- IB Theatre Arts HL/SL
- IB Music HL/SL
- IB Film HL/SL
- Or a second course from groups 2, 3 or 4
- IB Theory of Knowledge
- IB Creativity, Action and Service (an extra-curricular recognition and reflection program – non-credit)
- IB Extended Essay (non-credit)