International Baccalaureate at Portledge School

Being able to offer the IB program within the Portledge environment provides students with the support and guidance needed to succeed, and is a major reason why we have a 95% pass rate for the diploma. The mission and philosophy of the IB program complement those of Portledge School in that the basic tenets are to “develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people with adaptable skills to tackle society’s complex challenges and who will help to make it a better, more peaceful world.”

Critical thinking and communication, skills that are highly valued by both colleges and future employers, are at the core of the IB Diploma Programme. The desired outcome of the program is to “inspire students to ask questions, pursue personal aspirations, set challenging goals, and develop the persistence to achieve those goals.” Reflecting on these principles of intellectual curiosity and strong character, it is worth noting that a high percentage of our inductees into Cum Laude, are participants in the Diploma Programme!

Colleges and universities are increasingly finding that those students who participate in the full Diploma Programme are best prepared for college-level work. Recent graduates have enrolled in a diverse selection of colleges and universities including, but not limited to Brown University, Spellman, UT-Austin, Vassar, Richmond, Yale University, University of Virginia, Duke University, Boston College, and NYU just to name a few.

Since our first exam cohort in 2018 of five students, we have consistently grown not only in numbers but in course offerings, course candidacy, and faculty training. As we enter the 2022-23 school year, we will have 24 seniors graduate as Diploma Candidates and a significant percentage of juniors and seniors enrolled in at least one IB course. We look forward to another successful year in the IB program.

Trish Rigg
IB Coordinator

How Do Colleges View the IB Diploma?

Alumni of the IB Diploma Programme report that their involvement with IB has given them the tools needed for success in college. In particular, students comment on their sense of preparedness, self-confidence, research skills, and time management. Colleges recognize these characteristics in applicants who are diploma candidates. The IB Diploma Programme is internationally recognized as representing one of the highest standards in university preparatory education. More than 1,000 colleges and universities from around the world have shown how they value IB credentials by building special pathways for IB students,  granting credit or advanced standing for performance on IB exams, or even providing scholarships for IB students.

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. Through strong and growing research, it has been found that:

    • Diploma students tend to complete their undergraduate degrees at higher rates than their peers, and often in less time.
    • IB students tend to make more contributions to campus life by participating in activities such as community service, tutoring, assisting faculty with their research, studying abroad, internships, and joining clubs and other student groups.
    • IB assessments have been proven as strong predictors of university performance.
  • Q. Research also suggests that IB Diploma students demonstrate the following skills:

    • Interest and experience in research
    • Time management and organization
    • Critical thinking, inquiry, and problem-solving
    • Strong language and writing
    • International awareness and a sense of community responsibility.
  • Q. What About Individual Course Certificates?

    Standalone IB courses, “course certificates,” are typically seen by admissions counselors as similar to AP courses -- that is, they reflect a student’s desire to take a rigorous and challenging course. But because of the variety of courses offered, how colleges view them partially depends on the course in question.


List of 10 items.

  • What are IB Courses?

    IB courses are upper-level classes designed to prepare students for success in college. IB courses emphasize the learning process: students learn to set goals and reflect on their progress towards them. IB emphasizes the value of education in the modern world: students are encouraged to consider global perspectives and the relevance of class material to the world we live in. In each IB course, there are between two and three official IB assessments. Depending on the class, these can include formal examinations, oral presentations, group projects, research papers or the submission of a portfolio of work.
  • What is the IB Diploma Programme?

    In addition to the Portledge diploma that all graduates earn, some students will earn the internationally recognized IB Diploma. The Diploma Programme is a complete course of study. Over the course of two years, a Diploma candidate will take 6 IB courses (one in each of the traditional subject areas of English, Language, History, Math, Science, and the Arts). Candidates choose at least 3, but no more than 4 courses to study at the higher level (HL) and two to three at the standard level (SL). Students also complete a set of “core” requirements: Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS), and the Extended Essay (EE). In addition to completing these requirements, a student must earn 24 out of a possible 45 points on the final assessments to earn an official IB Diploma.
  • What is the IB Core

    The IB Core is comprised of the following three components which all Diploma Students complete over two semesters. Year 1 students will take IB Core 1 during either the fall or spring semester and all seniors will sit for IB Core Year 2 in the fall semester of senior year. These courses are in part designed to support students with both the TOK and Extended Essays that are externally graded by the IB.
  • What is Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?

    TOK, which stands for Theory of Knowledge, is a requirement for Diploma candidates, It is an interdisciplinary class designed to help students question and understand how they know what they know. Students ask questions such as “What makes a method scientific?” or “Is historical knowledge scientific?” or “How is reason different than faith?” The culminating assessments consist of an exhibition in year 1 and an essay response to a prompt published by the IB in year 2.
  • What is CAS?

    CAS stands for Creativity, Activity, Service. To complete their CAS requirement, students must complete service opportunities, creative projects, and be physically active. Over their two years in the program, Diploma candidates must set goals and record their progress towards a set of “Learning Outcomes.” All DP candidates also complete a CAS project, which they plan, complete, and reflect upon. These projects can be used in lieu of the required Senior Projects but must be presented at the end of their senior year.
  • What is EE?

    The EE, which stands for Extended Essay, is a requirement for Diploma candidates. DP candidates work with an advisor to create a research question and complete an independent research paper in an area of personal interest, one that connects to a topic sanctioned by the IB. The final product is a paper of approximately 4,000 words.
  • What Kind of Student is a Good Candidate for the Diploma?

    Ideal Diploma candidates are organized and hardworking students with strong time management skills. In addition to valuing the learning process, we hope to find students who are open-minded and curious, and who self-identify as thinkers.
  • At Portledge, Can a Student Take Just One IB Course?

    Yes. A student who takes one or more IB courses but does not partake in the IB Core is considered a “course” candidate. This is in contrast to a Diploma Candidate, who takes 6 courses and completes the core, as outlined above.
  • How Does IB Compare With AP?

    The fundamental difference between IB and AP is based on a philosophical difference. The IB aims to provide college-level courses that demonstrate continuity over two years with greater depth and breadth. The AP aims to provide students with a survey of college-level material within one year. Each program assesses students; however, the IB provides multiple styles of assessments over the two years while the AP has one high stakes exam taken at the end of the course. The IB goes a step further in that candidates can pursue the Diploma Programme, which is outlined under “What is the IB Diploma Program?” which is the most rigorous program we offer.
  • How Does the IB Impact Teaching Practices at Portledge?

    As more Portledge IB teachers undergo routine training from certified and experienced IB educators, the IB philosophy influences the way material is taught at all levels of the Portledge Upper School. The ensuing emphasis on student reflection and teacher collaboration has led to students thinking deeply about themselves and the material they study and provided greater exposure to current pedagogical trends for all Portledge teachers.

IB Contact

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Trish Rigg

    Trish Rigg 

    Coordinator International Baccalaureate Programme
    (516) 750-3164

Stanford's POV

IB Courses @ Portledge

  • English SL/HL
  • History SL/HL
  • Spanish SL/HL 
  • French SL/HL
  • Mandarin SL/HL
  • Applications & Interpretations SL/HL
  • Approaches & Analysis SL/HL
  • Physics SL/HL 
  • Environmental Systems & Societies SL 
  • Economics SL
  • Visual Arts SL/HL 
  • Film SL
  • Music SL/HL 
  • Theater SL/HL 
  • TOK

What some recent IB Diploma Graduates have to say about IB…

It’s hard to verbalize just how much IB impacted me, both in high school and in preparing me for my (almost complete) first semester of college. Not only did it provide a tight-knit group of friends, but it also transformed the way I approach learning – in terms of recognizing how I think and which learning methods are best suited for me. Before IB, my time-management skills were less than ideal and I found myself doing most of my assignments last-minute in the middle of the night, but by the end of the program, I became a huge fanatic of to-do lists. Despite its obvious academic benefits, I think that one of the most special parts of IB is the sense of community you’re able to form, both within the cohort and with teachers. Coming to school every day was genuinely a pleasure, knowing that I wasn't alone in whatever academic endeavor was up next – whether an IA draft or working on the EE. (Making the annual IB holiday card was obviously an added bonus, too.) I truly can’t imagine what my high school experience would have been like without IB, and I’m confident that I’m prepared for my next four years in college having experienced it.
Charlotte Murrell '21
The IB Program was definitely a life-changing experience for me as a student. My greatest takeaway was learning how to work independently and through self-motivation-- a skill that I'm sure I'll need in college. This is one of those things that you have to take charge of and be proactive in-- no one else can do the work for you. I wish I had managed my time better early on because the latter half of my senior year was much more stressful than it needed to be. Make a schedule for yourself and don't leave things to the last minute-- this will save you a lot of trouble. Have fun!
Tyler Medina-Minerva '19
The most important thing about the IB is that it is, at its core, doable. Sometimes it'll seem like there's a million things to do and no way to do them in time, but if you just take a step back, breathe, and manage your time well, it can all be done, and it can be done well. I wish I caught onto that fact before I last-minuted my entire Extended Essay, but you live and learn. Regardless, I do feel better going into college having tackled such a feat already, and I'm happy to have spent the past two years with a great IB cohort. Best of luck.
Tamara Pilson '19
Even with COVID, I still feel that IB was able to prepare me for college because much of what I am encouraged to do is centered around critical thinking. While each course discusses an element within its area of study, continuous connections are made that weave together all the classes I am taking. This is a huge part of IB where we oftentimes find ourselves understanding a topic better due to learning a different perspective of it in another class. Another way the IB helped to prepare me for college is with essay writing, especially in terms of the Extended Essay. Writing that has prepared me to conduct research for longer essays, both analytical and research-based, in college, and make use of the reflective portion of the essay as well. Overall, it is a great experience and, while stressful at times, I recommend it for anyone who is up for a challenge to explore learning and education in a more open-minded way.
Katherine Wu '21