A-levels or IB?

August 4, 2010

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Even in public schools, students around the world have to decide between educational systems. For instance, state institutions in the UK (and the US) are now offering the International Baccalaureate (IB); in fact, over 63% of the IB schools in the UK are state funded schools. Well, which one is better? At School Choice International, we believe each system has its benefits and it really depends on the particular student.

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Listen to a student and experts discuss the pros and cons, as well as the type of pupil best suited to each program.

~ Woman’s Hour on BBC looks at this important issue ~

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Here are some of the topics:

A-Levels

  • Standard: Most students in the UK take the A-Levels
  • Specialized Study: A-level students narrow their academic focus quite early
  • UK Focused: Like most state programs, the A-Levels tends to be focused on British topics, for instance British literature and economics
  • Curriculum 2000: The current A-levels have changed to 4 modules, so it is not the same program the parents took

International Baccalaureate

  • A Liberal Arts Approach: IB students must take a broad range of subjects, allowing students to keep options open
  • World Perspective: Students must study world literature, foreign languages, global economics
  • Strong Work Ethic: In order complete this challenging program, students have to develop strong study skills
  • Privileged and Academic Elite: The IB program is no longer only for the financially privileged or the academically elite
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Report Cards from Around the World: Mexico City, Mexico

December 4, 2009

For the next several weeks, we’ll look at report cards from around the world.

~ Habla Español! ~

~ 7th Stop ~ Mexico ~

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Mexico, with 111 million people, is the 11th most populous country. While Mexico can be seen as a powerful country, with the largest GDP per capita in Latin America, issues with income disparity and drug violence continue to plague the country. With a rich and ancient history, Mexico remains a popular tourist destination (for more than the sun and lovely beaches!).

Note ~ This is an international and NOT a local school as some other countries.

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Report Card Basics

  • Type of School: British International School
  • Curriculum: International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP)
  • Academic Year: 2008-2009
  • Year: 3

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Here’s the report card! The blue numbers highlight a few interesting aspects of the report and the numbers correspond to notes below the image.

1. The Five Parts of English

A large portion of the report card is dedicated to assessing English, illustrating the importance of the language at this school (English, rather than Spanish), as well as language acquisition. The assessment has been broken down into five core parts: speaking, listening, reading, writing and handwriting.

2. Look, Hear! ~ Units of Inquiry

Rather than set subjects or courses, this curriculum includes Units of Inquiry, which allow flexibility in teaching and learning. This differs greatly from educational systems that have concrete course expectations and teach to a national, standardized test. The Units of Inquiry this semester are “Look, Hear!” and “Exploration and Encounter.” Sounds fun to me!

3. A Big Old for Effort!

How age appropriate! Rather than assign a number or letter assessment of effort, this report card uses smiley faces, which can be understood regardless of age or culture. Colon, Capital D for a great practice!

4. A Descriptive Grading Scale

This report card has a slightly different grading scale than other assessments we’ve seen: good, very good and excellent, as well as reaching expectations. Reaching expectations seems to be given when a mark of “good” might be subjective, for instance, what is “good” use of information technology or  “excellent” in music at 9 years old?

5. Spanish and Social Studies… Get Numbers Grades

Though I’m not sure why (and I’ve scoured the internet!) Spanish and Social Studies get numbers instead of “descriptive” grades. Hm… I’m stumped. Any suggestions?

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See Report Cards from:    Staffordshire, England;    Zomba, Malawi; Sydney, Australia, week 1;     Sydney, Australia, week 2;    Dalhousie, India; Kathmandu, Nepal;     Soro, Denmark

Report card analysis to look forward to: Palestine, Canada and more!