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Why we favor and offer the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum over the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme for college readiness instruction.
  •  AP is more American college and university friendly than IB

The Advanced Placement curriculum was developed by the College Board.  The College Board is an American private nonprofit corporation, currently headquartered in New York City, formed in 1899 to expand access to higher education for students in the United States of America.   The IB programme, and the IB “World Schools” that offer the IB programme, have a history traced to the International School of Geneva in 1924. IB was founded under the League of Nations to educate the children of the League of Nations delegates.  Currently the IB office is registered in Geneva, Switzerland and both UNESCO and the United Nations are partners with and influence IB.   

Although AP course work and the IB high school diploma are accepted by most public and private colleges and universities, it is our belief that American private liberal arts colleges, and religious supported schools of higher education in particular, look more favorably on AP because its curriculum aligns more consistently with their college mission, values and degree requirements.  While both programs have their own distinct features, AP courses tend to focus intensively on a particular subject, while IB courses tend to take a more holistic approach.  Each college and university will take a different approach to accepting AP and IB.   Check with the admissions department of the universities or colleges you will apply to.
  • The AP values and curriculum taught better reflect the founding values of the United States of America, while the IB values and curriculum taught reflect a more universal, relativistic and socialist view.
What is taught and emphasized matters. This is an important point that isn’t mentioned enough in our politically correct environment.   Many families have no idea what is taught in many IB classes, in part because you can’t see the specific IB curriculum unless you are a certified IB teacher, and if not, it won’t be until after enrolling your child in IB and then seeing your child’s IB homework over time.  Because IB is an international program your child will hear, read and study a lot more about universal rights and not so much the Bill of Rights.  They will more frequently hear, read and study about being a good “global citizen” and not so much about what allegiance they owe to our country.   

The IB curriculum de-emphasizes ones nationality, in our case U.S.A. nationality, and overemphasizes the values of a new “worldliness” as reflected for example in the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) “A Continuum of International Education”, that states the IB values as: “In developing an awareness of diverse values of different cultures, it is, however, fundamental that students in each IBO programme are exposed to those human values which are recognized as universal; these embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948”.  

While we believe it is important that your child become familiar with the history and values of the United Nations we do believe a multi-year exposure to these principles in IB will occur at the expense of your child’s deeper understanding and appreciation for our Declaration of Independence and other uniquely American values, the authors and their writings that created them, and of the institutions that protect and promote those values.   

In addition, we believe the IBO “Theory of Knowledge” (TOK) can be problematic and is not consistent with the epistemology employed by our Founding Fathers to create our Declaration of Independence and Constitution for example.  TOK is a compulsory subject in the IB program and TOK is the path for processing information that IB students are taught leads to knowledge.  It emphasizes ways of knowing (sense perception, reason, emotion, imagination, intuition, memory, and language) and four supposed truth tests (coherence, correspondence, pragmatism and consensus).   While these are legitimate tools of logic, unchecked and undisciplined TOK leads to relativism, cynicism, and collectivism such as; “there is no right or wrong, only conditional responses”, “nothing is self-evident”, “the collective good is more important than the individual”, “all ethics are situational”, etc.   

Most importantly, every educational system has a moral goal that it tries to attain and that informs its curriculum.  In the beginning schooling in America was free of government interference. The term “education” appears nowhere in the Constitution.  Education was the duty and concern of parents.  What kind of person do you want your child to be?  What do you want them to learn? When government run public education took hold our schools used to invite students to take their seats in a shared American culture.  We didn’t allow a left-or-right-wing
slant.  Our public schools mission was in part to produce students sufficiently proud and knowledgeable of this country and ready to take care of it.  While some will justifiably argue to get rid of public schools, if we are going to keep them, we believe the principles behind the forming of the College Board, and the AP curriculum employed at Gateway College Prep, are closer to our Founders view of how to train young minds than the International Baccalaureate Programme.  

Finally, IB is expensive to implement (teacher training, program fees, certification, travel, administrative costs, etc) and would increase our current instructional costs by 6%.  We are also critical that more of our American education dollars are going to support a growing number of IB World Schools here in America whose values often contradict our Constitution.    

The bottom line is that while we see some value in the IB program we do not believe the IB curriculum is consistent with our school mission to prepare our students for admission and success at a top tier university, while nurturing a spirit of generosity, promoting America's founding principles, and imparting 21st century skills for living well in an inter-connected world.   

Here are some of the other benefits but important differences between AP and IB:
  • Both AP and IB will get you prepared for success in college
If you want to assure your child is truly ready for academic success in college both the AP and IB programs offer the very best in college preparatory curriculum.   Both AP and IB offer a more challenging college level of course work than non AP and non IB classes.  Studies show that students who successfully complete AP or IB courses are significantly more likely to be successful in college and to graduate on time (or early) and with higher grades.    
  • Both AP and IB can earn the student one year of college credit
AP students who score a 3 or above (out of 5 total) on any AP subject exam are automatically awarded college credit at any Texas college or public university in that subject, or placed in an upper-level class and allowed to skip a prerequisite course. A student can take up to 35 AP exams and earn well over 35 or more college credits.

Likewise, students who earn an IB diploma will receive 24 credit hours (generally one year of college) at any Texas college or public university. However, the institution may grant fewer than 24 credit hours if the student received a score of less than four on an examination administered as part of the diploma program.  
  • AP courses are taken individually while IB is a prescribed program
You get more choices with AP.  AP is designed for flexibility and specialty.  AP does not require a set program of courses.  You can choose to take AP courses in subjects that interest you the most and/or that are best suited to your intellect and academic strengths.  IB is a prescribe program that you must follow all the way through to earn the IB diploma. It does not offer the same flexibility as AP.  Once you get on the IB bus you can’t get off.   

In IB courses, both “Internal Assessments” and “External Assessments” determine the student’s final grade/college credit in a course. College credit for AP exams is determined by scores earned on an exam taken in the spring.  For example, students take the IB exam in May of the junior and/or senior year. The External Assessment comprises about 50% of the student’s IB grade. The other 50% (sometimes more) is determined by the Internal Assessment (teacher evaluation) that the student must complete before the exam may be taken.  The Internal Assessment is moderated by international examiners.  
  • AP does not offer a high school diploma program while the IB Diploma Programme is a two-year curriculum and commitment
At the core of the IB Diploma Programme are the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class, Extended Essay (EE), and 150 hours of creativity, action, and service (CAS). At the core of the AP offerings, with successful completion of the AP course and a final AP exam score of 3 or above (on scale of 1-5), is evidence that the student has mastered the subject at the college level.   

While IB may seem to emphasize more writing skills, AP students who successfully complete AP English Language and Composition and/or AP English Literature Composition courses will also have mastered the writing skills needed for college and careers.
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