International Baccalaureate at Portledge School

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is a globally recognized program that got its start in elite private schools in the post-WWII era. Diplomats were looking for a challenging academic program that could ensure their children would gain the skills necessary to be successful in all measures of life. Since then, the program has grown exponentially as more and more institutions, both secondary and post-secondary, have been made aware of the intrinsic value of an IB education.

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.”

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 third year of offering this dynamic program and are eager to help our IB students achieve their goals.

Trish Rigg
IB Coordinator

IB Summer Work 2019

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 2 members.

Stanford's POV

IB Pre-Requisites

Full IA Calendar for Year 1 - Class of 2020 & Year 2 - Class of 2019