IB, IS, IE PRIMER
What’s the difference between the IB, IS and IE programs? Click on a tab to learn more.
The International Studies (IS) program was started at Sunset Elementary School in 1986 and has since expanded to include West Lab Elementary, Carver Middle School, and Coral Reef High School. The program is foreign language-focused with a rigorous academic curriculum that incorporates multicultural learning, truly combining the best of what American and European schools have to offer.
The IS program provides two to three hours of daily of language instruction (and in the upper grades, it often includes math or history taught in the foreign language as well). In Miami, there are IS programs offered in German, French, and Spanish, each of which is supported by their respective government and all of which have a Memorandum of Understanding with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS).
The IS program begins in first grade and runs through 12th grade, with priority matriculation from elementary school to middle school, and from middle school to high school. This means that a student who gains admission to an IS program in elementary school, and who meets the minimum admissions criteria established by MDCPS for the IS program, will receive priority in the admissions lottery for entry to the IS middle school and high school programs. (Note that only students who can demonstrate prior knowledge of the foreign language can gain entry into an IS program after the first grade.)
However, Miami-Dade County Public Schools requires that all students moving from an IS elementary school program to an IS middle school program (e.g. Sunset Elementary to Carver Middle), and from an IS middle school program to an IS high school program (e.g. Carver Middle to Coral Reef High), who wish to continue with their chosen IS program MUST still submit a magnet school application during the regular application process. For more information on this, please visit our Application Process page.
Once in high school, all IS students who maintain a strong academic standing automatically feed into the International Baccalaureate (IB) program beginning in the 11th grade: they become Bilingual International Baccalaureate (BIB) students. BIB students follow the IB curriculum while continuing their advanced foreign language training. They will also graduate with the highly valuable IB Diploma upon successful completion of the IB exams. Additionally, students may earn college credit by successfully taking an Advanced Placement (AP) test in their foreign language.
IS students who do not qualify for the IB program may remain in IS classes and graduate with a regular diploma. German IS and BIB students also have the opportunity to take the Deutsches Sprachdiplom exam in their senior year. The Sprachdiplom is a language fluency exam administered and evaluated by the German government. Students who pass this exam receive certification of their German language ability, which enables them to apply to German-speaking universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The International Education (IE) program (formerly called the Pre-IB program), like the one at Carver Middle School, is a strong academic program designed to prepare motivated students for the rigorous International Baccalauerate (IB) program in high school.
Like the International Studies (IS) program, the IE program offers a strong academic curriculum that stresses multi-cultural learning and provides foreign language instruction in French, German, or Spanish. However, while the IE language instruction is rigorous, it is not as intense as that of the IS program. The IE program gives students just one hour of foreign language instruction per day versus the IS program’s two to three hours per day. Students in the IE program also begin studying their chosen language much later than IS students: sixth grade or later vs. first grade.
Second, while the IE program is offered at both the elementary and middle school levels, it does not offer direct matriculation from one IE school to the next as with the IS program. For example, if a child in the German IE program at Sunset Elementary wishes to continue with the IE program at Carver Middle School, he or she will need to submit a magnet school application for Carver’s IE program and, assuming he/she meets the admissions requirements, will then need to enter the admission lottery. Students enrolled in a German IS program avoid the lottery.
Finally, unlike the IS program, students may enter an IE program in middle school or an IB program in high school without the need to demonstrate language fluency or even any prior knowledge of that language, provided they meet the academic requirements and win a spot in the lottery.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is a comprehensive, demanding, pre-university course of study established by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Only IBO-approved schools can offer the two-year program. In Miami-Dade there are three such schools: Coral Reef Senior High School, Coral Gables Senior High School, and North Miami High School. The IB program emphasizes exceptional academics, intercultural understanding, critical thinking, and responsible world citizenship.
The IB program actually begins in eleventh grade, but most students enter the program on a pre-IB status in ninth grade, taking preparatory honors-type courses. Students generally need at least a 3.0 grade point average and a score of 70 percent or better on standardized achievement tests to qualify for entrance into the IB program. Qualified applicants then enter a lottery to gain placement. (IMPORTANT NOTE: German IS students avoid this lottery and are automatically admitted into the program.)
To obtain the coveted IB Diploma, students must write a 4000-word extended essay, conduct independent research, complete a community service project, and pass extensive examinations in six subject areas, of which foreign language is only one. These tests are graded by IB examiners throughout the world, with final scores being determined by the Chief examiners in Cardiff, Wales. Those who don’t qualify for an IB Diploma receive a regular high school diploma along with certificates for the IB exams they passed.