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. 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 these principles of intellectual curiosity and strong character, it is worth noting that eight out of the eleven recent 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. Check out the video on the right to hear Stanford University's view of the IB program.

We are excited to enter our fifth year of offering this dynamic program and are eager to help our IB students achieve their goals.

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.

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.

The effectiveness of an IB education
Through a strong and growing body of 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, study abroad, internships, and joining clubs and other student groups.
  • IB assessments have been proven as strong predictors of university performance.
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.


List of 9 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 Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?

    TOK, which stands for Theory of Knowledge, is a requirement for Diploma candidates, as well as an elective course for all Portledge students. 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 assessment is an essay that is scored externally by the IB.
  • 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 IB course 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 Pre-Requisites

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 
  • Music SL/HL 
  • Theater SL/HL 
  • TOK

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

IB definitely shaped my student experience because it gave me a super tight-knit community that I otherwise wouldn’t have been a part of. IB also completely changed my outlook on the world- I now feel much more informed about what influences my thinking. I wish I knew that the math end of things would be difficult to figure out if I’d known I couldn’t take calculus I might have taken it outside of school. All in all, I’ll forever be grateful for IB for really enriching my academic experience and giving me a group of friends that I’ll always cherish.
Lizzy Kunkov '19 
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
IB transformed the way I think. It taught me that WHAT I say isn’t as significant as HOW I say it.
My advice is to, honestly, just trust in the process. The diploma isn’t as bad as you think it will be, but there will be times when it feels exhausting. It requires dedication and sacrifice. However, without realizing it, you learn so much from it. You learn how to be efficient, how to think critically, and how to expand your worldview.
Also, take advantage of the teachers. Ask for help. Be transparent and direct. The Portledge faculty is just as giving as they are knowledgeable. Communication will them with take your work to the next level, also you won’t be half as stressed out.
Angelina Magin '19