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As an IB Diploma candidate, a student picks one subject to study from each of six subject groups — language and literature; language acquisition; individuals and societies; experimental sciences; mathematics and computer science; and the arts — and studies three of these six at a "higher" level (HL). In addition, all students are required to take Theory of Knowledge (a philosophy course), write an Extended Essay, and participate in Creativity Action Service (CAS).
Grading at the end of the IB program comes down to a points score: marks out of seven for each subject, and three possible additional points for the combined TOK and essay, for a maximum of 45 points. Click for more detailed information about IB coursework and contact John Binnert, head of Middle and Upper Schools and IB program coordinator with Academy-specific IB program questions.
CAS is designed as a framework for experiential learning, encouraging students to become involved in new roles. It provides a refreshing counterbalance to academic studies by helping IB students take seriously the importance of life outside of scholarship. The emphasis is on learning by doing, completing tasks that have real consequences and then reflecting on these experiences over time.
Creativity: Interpreted broadly to include a wide range of arts activities, as well as the creativity students demonstrate in designing and implementing service projects
Action: Includes not only participation in individual and team sports but also local or international projects that require physical activity during service projects
Service: Encompasses a host of community and social service activities, demonstrating a benefit or commitment to others
Academy students are expected to be involved in CAS activities for the equivalent of at least three hours each week during the two years of the IB Program. A system of self-evaluation encourages students to reflect on the benefits of CAS participation to themselves and to others, and to evaluate the understanding and insights acquired.
The Extended Essay is an independent, self-directed research project, culminating in a 4,000-word research paper. It provides practical preparation for undergraduate research and an opportunity for students to engage in an in-depth study of a topic of interest within a chosen subject. Students are supported throughout the process with advice and guidance from an assigned Academy supervisor. Completion of an Extended Essay develops the capacity to formulate ideas, engage in personal exploration, and develop and communicate an argument.
Past Extended Essay topics from Academy IB Diploma students include: "To what extent did Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative contribute to the end of the Cold War?;" "To What Extent Did Thich Quảng Đức's Actions During The Vietnam War (1955-1975) Change Self-Immolation (Suicide by Fire) From Being An Act Of Religion And Culture To Being An Act Of Political Protest?;" and "The treatment of evil in John Steinbeck's East of Eden."
TOK is central to the educational philosophy of the IB Diploma program. It offers students and their teachers the opportunity to reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and to consider the role and nature of knowledge in our own culture, other cultures, and in the wider world. In addition, this class prompts students to be aware of themselves as thinkers and to recognize the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world.
As a thoughtful and purposeful inquiry into different kinds of knowledge, TOK is taught almost entirely in questions. The most central of these is "How do we know?" It is a stated aim of TOK that students should become aware of the interpretive nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases, regardless of whether these biases are ultimately retained, revised, or rejected. TOK also has an important role to play in providing an arcing academic experience, connecting many different academic subject areas.
"If people realized how much college tuition the IB program could save them, they would be surprised! Both of my kids went into school with 20+ credits from IB classes. That’s almost a full year of college — already paid for! Out-of-state tuition, even at a state school, is approximately $40,000, annually."
Mother of Mackenzie '10 and Kendall '12
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