Mythbusting the IB Diploma Score in Bangkok and Beyond
Way back in the early 1990’s my first teacher mentor, the Head of Humanities at a school in England, had a sign over her desk which read “It does not matter how many times you weigh a pig it does not fatten any faster”. The sign, used in this context, is referring to students taking exams, and critiques a particular myth held by many. The myth is that learning and taking exams are mutually causal processes. This myth is very much to mind as our Grade 12 students at KIS International School, Bangkok head towards their IB mock and final examinations.
The Diploma exams are a de facto aspect of taking the IB Diploma. They are rigorous, challenging and intense, and as such they represent both a significant developmental process and a real achievement for students who sit them and, usually, do very well in them. Whilst our IB DP students here in Bangkok should be rightfully proud of their educational achievements in the final examinations, we need to keep in mind that their best IB Diploma exam results are only a part of the picture that is their learning and education.
The exam results do represent an achievement, but this is not easily expressed in an ordinal series (ie. 45 is not necessarily better than 38, which in turn is not necessarily better than 32, and so on). Not all international school students start the Diploma Programme with the same skills, knowledge and understanding, as such their scores are not comparable on a standardised measure. One student may have put in a lot more effort and application to achieve, say 34 points, than another student put in to achieve the same score or an even higher score. Further, some students take a combination of subjects which they find more difficult than another student’s combination of subjects (past students have achieved very high DP scores by taking their ‘easy route’ through). Remember - in the DP, all subjects are worth a maximum of 7 points regardless of whether those subjects are deemed more or less difficult by those who sit them. Eventually, the amount of effort put in will pay off in greater self knowledge later in life regardless of the raw DP score published at the end of the course.
The next reason that the DP score is only a very small proportion of the overall achievement of the student is the DP score does not take account of the CAS programme. CAS is a pass-fail course, some students will do enough to pass CAS whilst other students will far surpass the requirements of CAS. The latter find a passion for their CAS activities, it takes them to new levels and helps them to develop into inspiring individuals. In my opinion CAS is the part of IB Diploma which takes international IB school students in Bangkok and abroad above and beyond students following other high school programmes. Here are a few examples of past DP students with whom I have worked who became Inspiring Individuals because of their CAS Programmes:
4 students who played their sports at National, or International, levels and consequently won scholarships to highly selective universities in the USA, and Canada. 2 of these students have now developed careers in their chosen sport, one as a Sports Physiotherapist, and the other as a professional coach.
Seven years ago a DP student established an English Language Teaching programme for disadvantaged students in Hong Kong. She trained the students on the programme to become the future teachers of the programme, thus integrating internal sustainability. The programme still runs successfully today. The student, who has now graduated from a Masters Programme in USA, has now set up a Women in Business Partnership NGO which partners female business leaders in HK and China with women starting up businesses in India and Bangladesh. The concept of internal sustainability of the project has endured from her DP CAS projects.
I could give other examples from our students here at KIS International School in Bangkok, but I think you start to see the message. The IB DP stands apart from other high school curricula because of our principles of international mindedness and global citizenship, these values are most evident in CAS. The CAS programme has the potential to change the lives of all those involved, both inside and outside, of the school. The quality and depth of a student’s CAS programme is not measured in their Diploma score, but it is central to our KIS Vision of Inspiring Individuals.
Finally, the IB Diploma Score does not not represent the many years of learning, personal development and achievement which happened before the DP, and is at best tangentially linked to the DP exams. So, whilst your best DP score is important in Bangkok or wherever you take the exams, and we want our Grade 12 students to score as highly possible, we set the scores in a much wider context. They should know that they have our support, and that we know that they have already achieved so many great things in the course of their IB education in Bangkok.