Extra Credit: With IB Rules, the Fast Track Can End Quickly

(By Julie Zhu)
Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dear Extra Credit:

I thought I'd share a few tidbits related to my daughter's International Baccalaureate experience at George C. Marshall High School in Fairfax County.

As she entered middle school, she qualified for an advanced math sequence, starting with algebra in seventh grade and continuing with geometry in eighth grade. Last year, her freshman year at Marshall, she took Algebra II with trigonometry as a pre-IB offering. She has done quite well in these classes, culminating with the highest possible score [600] on the Virginia Algebra II Standards of Learning exam.

Our issue is with the IB math sequence available to her at this point. Because the IB Diploma Programme requires students to take two-year Higher Level exams after senior year -- the program does not officially start until junior year -- she was advised to defer the Math HL I course for a year and take Math Standard Level I this year as a sophomore. This appears quite bizarre, because the sophomores in her Algebra II class may proceed straight to HL Math I.

This restriction seems to apply only if she pursues the IB diploma; there might be no such constraints for IB certificate candidates. If this is the case, perhaps she could continue an accelerated math curriculum, maybe taking a class such as multivariate calculus before starting college, by leaving the IB diploma path.

We're sure that she'll benefit from whatever classes she takes, but we can't help thinking that she's being held back. Although the IB Programme might need to establish rules and guidelines for consistent implementation, there's always a chance that they don't always provide for our kids' best educational opportunities.

Warren Repole


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