IB, IS and IE programs
What’s the difference between the IB, IS and IE programs? Here’s a little primer:
International Baccalaureate (IB)
The IB program is a comprehensive and 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, Coral Gables High, and North Miami High. The IB program emphasizes exceptional academics, intercultural understanding, critical thinking, and responsible world citizenship.
The IB program actually begins in 11th grade, but most students enter the program on a pre-IB status in ninth, taking preparatory honor-type courses. They generally need at least a 3.0 grade average and a score of 70 percent or better on standardized achievement tests to qualify for IB. Qualified applicants then enter a lottery to gain placement. (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. All IB students who complete the program, regardless of whether they earn an IB Diploma, can graduate with up to a year’s worth of university credit under their belt. Those who earn the IB Diploma also qualify for free admission to any state university in Florida.
International Studies (IS)
The IS program was started at Sunset Elementary back in 1986. It is foreign-language driven, with a rigorous academic curriculum that incorporates multi-cultural learning, and blends the best of what American and European schools have to offer. The program provides two to three hours of daily of language instruction, and often includes math or history in the foreign language in the upper grades. The program is offered in French, German, and Spanish. Each of these strands is supported by the French, German, and Spanish governments, respectively -- all of which have a Memorandum of Understanding with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS).
The IS runs from first through 12th grade, with automatic admission from elementary school to middle school and then high school. (Sunset Elementary feeds into G.W. Carver Middle and then Coral Reef High.) After admission to first grade, there are no lotteries. Only students who can demonstrate prior knowledge of the foreign language, or foreign natives, can gain entry into the IS program after first grade.
In middle school and then again in high school -- IS students have an opportunity to take the Advanced Placement (AP) test in their foreign language. If they pass, they earn college credit.
Once in high school, all IS students, who maintain a strong academic standing, automatically feed into the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in 11th grade and become Bilingual International Baccalaureate (BIB) students. BIB students follow the IB curriculum while continuing their advanced foreign language training. They also graduate with the highly valuable IB Diploma, if they pass the IB exams.
IS students who do not qualify for the IB program remain in IS classes and graduate with a regular diploma. German IS and BIB programs also have the opportunity to take the Sprachdiplom exam in their senior year, a type of language fluency test given by the German government. Students who pass the exam receive certification of their German language ability, thereby enabling them to study abroad at German universities.
International Education (IE)
The IE program, like the one at Carver Middle, was formerly called the Pre-IB program and is just that a strong academic program designed to prepare motivated students for the rigorous IB program in high school. It is very similar to the IS program, with both offering high academic curriculums that stress multi-cultural learning, and both providing foreign language instruction with French, German, and Spanish strands. There are strong differences. While the IE language instruction is more rigorous, it is not as intense as the IS program. The IE program only provides one hour of foreign language instruction a day versus the IS program’s two to three hours a day. Students in the IS program also study the language for 12 consecutive years bringing them to a higher knowledge of the language than those in the IE program, who may start their study of the language in 6th grade or later.
Second, while the IE program is also offered at the elementary and middle school levels, there is no automatic admission from one level school to the next as the IS program provides. So, for example, if a child in an elementary IE program wants to go on to a middle school IE program, they have to make a fresh application to the middle school and once again make it through the lottery. (The middle school IE program also doesn’t provide automatic admission into a high school IB program.)
Third, unlike the IS program, a child can enter the IE program in middle school or the IB program in high school with no prior knowledge of the foreign language, so long as they meet the academic requirements and make it through the lottery.