General FAQs

  • What is an International Baccalaureate? What does ‘Baccalaureate’ mean ?
    • In English, the term means “bachelors” and is typically used in European schools to refer to a high school diploma. The International Baccalaureate is an analytical model of learning with the students as active participants in the educational process. It is administered by a non-profit educational foundation started in Geneva, Switzerland in 1968. According to the foundation, “the International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” The IB Diploma is one of the most challenging college readiness programs in the world. Students study six subjects during the junior and senior years, three at a standard level and three at a higher level (or two at a standard level and four at higher level). Each subject area is also in a five year cycle of renewal, guaranteeing the most relevant and contemporary high school curriculum anywhere in the world.
      The subjects are chosen from six categories:

      • Language (Literature in native language)
      • Individuals and Societies (History, Psychology, Economics)
      • Mathematics
      • The Arts (Music & Art) or Elective from another category
      • Experimental Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology)
      • Second Language (French, German, Latin, or Spanish)

      In addition, students have to fulfill three other core requirements:

    • Extended Essay (EE) – written on a topic of the student’s choice following tightly defined guidelines and submitted in the final year
    • Theory of Knowledge (TOK) – students reflect on how they know what they know
    • Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) – requires a certain number of hours are committed to the arts, athletic activities, and community service
  • How do IB courses compare to AP courses?
    • They differ from course to course, but are always highly regarded. IB courses typically provide study in much greater depth, and expect assimilation of information and an ability to apply that information. Additionally, there is an overall increased focus on writing versus multiple choice.
  • What are the advantages of the International Baccalaureate? How will I benefit from graduating from the IB program?
    • Students who complete this program are preparing not only for success in college but for success in life. IB Programs are internationally recognized and smooth the educational transitions of globally mobile students so that their education is not adversely effected by relocation. IB students graduating with the IB Diploma are able to matriculate at universities all around the world, often with advanced credit.

IB World Schools are subject to a strict accreditation process monitored by the International Baccalaureate Organization; parents and students can be sure the school is offering a quality education. IB teaching methods and curricula are research-based and draw on the best practices from educational systems around the world; additionally, IB teachers participate in many professional development opportunities to continually promote their awareness of current educational practices and new thinking.

IB Programs are designed to develop students who are learning how to learn, life-long learners, critical and compassionate thinkers, and informed participants in local and world affairs. Students with IB Diplomas report that their involvement with IB has given them the tools needed to succeed in college/university and to make the most of their post-secondary education; they have a high level of preparedness, self-confidence, research skills, ability to manage their time, and willingness to be actively engaged in their own learning; and they have developed a sense of the world around them, their responsibility to it, and the skills with which to embrace the complexities of life.

  • Must a student be academically gifted to be in the IB Diploma Program?
    • No; the common standard of IB students is that they like to learn and are willing to work hard. They should be highly motivated, have a strong academic foundation, and have good abilities in all subject areas.
  • Can students with special needs participate in an IB program?
    • Yes; the IBO has established policies for accommodating students with special needs.
  • What preparation do students need in order to succeed in the IB Diploma Program? How can they be sure they are taking the right courses to prepare them for IB?
    • Students who plan to take IB courses should begin their preparation early, certainly by middle school. Encourage students to develop and practice good study habits and to work on time management skills. Maintaining a serious attitude towards learning, developing independence, and encouraging self-motivation are all important factors in student success at any level.
  • Do all students who attempt the IB Program earn the IB Diploma?
    • No. Patrick Henry is operating from a baseline that approximately 85% of the IB seniors earn IB Diplomas. In tremendously successful years, approximately 90-100% of seniors earn the diploma; in less than projected years, approximately 75-80% seniors earn the diploma. 
  • What if I decide I do not want to continue in IB once I start?
    • Many IB students consider quitting the IB program at one time or another, but usually persevere and are glad they did. However, if a student finds that the IB program truly is not for her/him, she/he may opt out of the IB Diploma Program at the beginning or end of a school year. Any student leaving the program must meet with the IB Diploma Coordinator for an exit interview.
  • How are the students who do not earn the IB Diploma awarded?
    • Students are awarded certificates for the examinations successfully completed.
  • Can students take IB courses without being in the full IB Diploma Program?
    • Yes; the IB courses are open to all junior and senior students as long as they meet the perquisites.
  • Does the IB Diploma satisfy the State of Virginia graduation requirements?
    • Yes; the IB diploma is in addition to the Advanced Diploma of Studies earned for successfully graduating from Patrick Henry High School.
  • Can students transfer from one Diploma Program school to another?
    • Yes. But be aware that, while the Diploma Program itself is the same from school to school, the subject choices available to students will vary. Timelines and deadlines for a program’s central elements – EE, TOK, and CAS – can vary also.
IB Coordinator Contact Info

Wendy Edelman (AHS)

Jessica Orth (HHS)

Lesa Berlinghoff (LDHS)

Micah Eads (PHHS)

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