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Programme Validation Research Studies

What is research in programme validation? Read more here.

PYP Studies

PYP/MYP Studies

MYP Studies

MYP/DP Studies

DP Studies

PYP/MYP/DP or Continuum Studies


In Progress Studies


Working Title

Study Description




Student Engagement, School Climate, and Student Performance in the Middle Years Programme


This study focuses on MYP in Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools and aims to understand the relationship between middle school students’ perceptions of school climate and student engagement and their academic performance.  Anticipated completion date is December 2010.




IB Students’ High School and Postsecondary Experiences in Chicago Public Schools


Led by the Consortium for Chicago School Research, this mixed methods study seeks to closely examine the high school and postsecondary experiences of DP students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The study will investigate the extent to which DP is associated with college retention and whether the DP offers positive learning environments for the students they serve. Anticipated completion date is January 2011.




Successful Practices in the IB Continuum


This study, conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Education, focuses on five schools in the Asia-Pacific region and will document strategies and practices used in full continuum schools to promote successful transitions between programmes and positive student outcomes. Final results are expected in April 2010.


Completed Studies


PYP and MYP Student Performance on the International Schools’ Assessment

Ling Tan & Yan Bibby, Australian Council for Educational Research

This study, undertaken by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), investigated how International Baccalaureate (IB) students enrolled in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP) performed on the International Schools’ Assessment (ISA), relative to non-IB students. The ISA assesses student performance in Grades 3 to 10 across four domains: Math Literacy, Reading, Narrative Writing, and Expository Writing. The math and reading components of the assessment are based on the reading and mathematical literacy frameworks of the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The study sample included IB students (N=23,575) and non-IB students (N=14,317) across Asia and Oceania, Europe, Africa and the Americas, who participated in the ISA in 2007/2008 and 2008/2009. On the whole, despite some regional differences, the results indicate that IB PYP and MYP students outperformed their non-IB peers on the ISA across all four domains in a majority of grade levels, with the strongest effects noted in Year 10 Math and Expository Writing. IB students’ ISA scores in Grades 9 and 10 also compare very favourably to PISA benchmarks in Math and Reading. On the other hand, there was insufficient evidence to suggest that IB schools authorized for a longer period produce better student outcomes, and no clear patterns were noted in student performance across IB full continuum schools and single or dual programme schools.

Research Summary

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Academic Performance of IB students Entering the University of California System from 2000-2002

International Baccalaureate Global Policy and Research (based on data provided by the University of California President's Office )

This report documents the college performance of 1,547 U.S. high school students who participated in the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and subsequently enrolled in the University of California (UC) system between 2000 and 2002. Performance of IB students is compared to the UC population at large, as well as a comparison group of 5,253 non-IB students matched on year of enrollment, race/ethnicity, family income (within a range of +/- $10,000), and high school academic performance (formula using high school GPA and highest SAT or ACT score). Descriptive analyses indicate that students participating in the IB earned higher grade point averages and graduated at higher rates than comparison group students as well as students in the University of California system overall. This trend was observed across all income groups.  In addition, regression analyses, controlling for socio-economic status, high school GPA, and SAT/ACT scores, demonstrated a positive relationship between indicators of high school IB participation and performance and college performance. Performance in the Diploma Programme was the best predictor of college performance, accounting for around 25% of the variance (depending on the specific model). Among subject group exams, scores on the experimental sciences IB exams were the best predictors of college GPA, explaining around 17% of the variance. The data show that IB students in the UC system tend to perform better than a matched comparison group and students overall, and that performance in the IB programme in high school significantly predicts achievement in college.

Research Summary coming soon

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High School Student Engagement Among IB and Non-IB Students in the United States: A Comparison Study

International Baccalaureate Global Policy and Research in collaboration with The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Indiana University

In 2009, the IB recruited eight schools to participate in the High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE). The HSSSE is a national survey measuring the academic, social, and emotional engagement of high school students. Two broad sets of analyses were conducted – the first compared non-IB students and IB students in the targeted sample of eight schools (n=7,692), and the second compared non-IB students and IB students in a national sample of more than 100 schools (n=42,754). In both sets of comparisons, IB students rated their levels of academic, behavioral, and emotional engagement significantly higher than non-IB students.

Info Sheet

Research Summary

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The Primary Years Programme Field Study

Jori Hall, Tracy Elder, et. al., Education Policy and Evaluation Center, University of Georgia

This investigation of the authorization and implementation process of the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) in Georgia schools, which combines an online survey with in-depth case studies, was conducted to provide insights that might improve the IB’s work and guide the efforts of schools seeking to offer the PYP. With regard to how schools move from interested to candidate to authorized PYP status, it was found that district-level support was important and that schools strengthened teacher and parent buy-in by networking with other IB schools, sending teachers to IB workshops, and meeting with various stakeholder groups. With regard to PYP implementation, this study identifies six successful strategies: whole-school immersion, collaborative planning, continuous training, availability of resources, strategies to promote community involvement, and support from the school leadership. Challenges for implementation were limited resources, integration of state standards with the PYP curriculum, the transdisciplinary nature of the programme, and district and state expectations. Recommendations from schools for improving IB support, particularly during the authorization process, include systematic networking with authorized schools, additional consultative support, more training for special area teachers, and better communication regarding feedback on applications and notification of the outcome of authorization visits.

Concise Research Summary

Overview Report

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International Baccalaureate Standards Development and Alignment Project

David Conley & Terri Ward, Educational Policy Improvement Center, University of Oregon

This study, which analyzes the alignment of the IB Diploma Programme standards and the Knowledge and Skills for University Success (KSUS) college-ready standards, found IB standards to be highly aligned with the KSUS standards.  In particular, the key cognitive strategies emphasized in the Diploma—critical thinking skills, intellectual inquisitiveness and interpretation—were found to be fully aligned with the expectations of university faculty. The study also confirmed that IB Diploma Programme standards demonstrate a very high degree of alignment with the KSUS standards in all subject areas. In math, complete alignment was found between the IB Diploma’s mathematical studies and the KSUS’ algebra, trigonometry and statistics standards. In science, the 47 IB chemistry standards, 19 biology standards and the concepts of environmental science embedded in all three IB science courses aligned completely with KSUS.

Research Summary (also available on EPIC website)

Link to report on the EPIC website

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Case Studies of Participation and Performance in the IB Diploma Programme

Jennifer A. Bland & Katrina R. Woodworth, SRI

This report analyzes the experience of two U.S. schools that have been particularly successful in recruiting low-income and minority students to the IB Diploma Programme (DP) and in ensuring their success. It discusses the DP’s history, structure, and availability at each school; students’ preparation, recruitment, selection, enrollment, persistence, and achievement in each case; and school-level, district, and state supports that appear to facilitate successful outcomes for DP students. Recommendations stemming from these case studies include structuring IB programmes as magnets that target underrepresented groups in diverse school districts, aligning schools’ 9th and 10th grade curriculum with the IB to provide early preparation for the DP, developing recruitment strategies that specifically target underrepresented applicants, evaluating schools’ capacity to adequately support struggling students if they decide to expand access, carefully monitoring students’ progress, and ensuring adequate district-level support. Efforts should also be made to share best practices among district leaders and to continue to advocate in favor of state-wide policies that foster broader IB participation.

Concise Research Summary


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Supplemental Survey: Creating Support Structures and Services for Title I High Schools Implementing the International Baccalaureate Programme

Leslie Siskin & Meryle Weinstein, Institute for Education and Social Policy, New York University

A survey of the Middle Years Programmes (MYP) and  the Diploma Programmes (DP) at U.S. schools eligible for federal “Title I” aid was conducted as part of an evaluation of the IB’s attempts to increase access to the DP by providing greater support to these schools. The survey sheds light on the nature of IB student enrollment at Title I schools, with participation in the MYP showing broader access than in the DP, where schools often have selection criteria in place. The profile of IB coordinators and teachers at these schools is also described, as are various supports available to IB students. Challenges to IB implementation at these schools include resources, time and the difficulty of coordinating professional development between their district and the IB. In addition, motivation, academic preparation, and competing activities all impact students’ participation and success in IB. Schools stress the need for more support that will address their specific concerns as diverse, urban schools. Strengthening the pathway between the MYP and the DP may provide important support, but that pathway is still under construction, and is particularly challenging for Title I schools given their context.    

Concise Research Summary

Link to report on the NYU website

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The District Role in International Baccalaureate

Leslie Siskin & Meryle Weinstein,  Institute for Education and Social Policy, New York University

In order to provide insights into the nature of the district’s role in adopting and implementing the IB, the evolution of that role, and whether increased involvement can ultimately benefit students and schools, this study analyzes one site where the district has played a key role in the successful expansion of IB programmes. In this large and extremely diverse district with a reputation for academic excellence, the IB has evolved from two “stand-alone” programmes to a cohesive set of programmes governed and administered with active district strategies, policies, and personnel. District support for the IB initially combined solid financial backing for the Diploma Programme (DP) with a flexible stance which did not mandate the programme. The district took on a more active role when the Middle Years Programme (MYP) was introduced, by building formal mechanisms to connect those involved with IB across schools, taking advantage of economies of scale, and creating two director-level positions to coordinate IB, among other measures. The relationship between this district and the IB has become so strong that the district’s new set of goals for all students mirror the goals and philosophy of IB programs. There is evidence to show that when the district takes on an active role in this way, student IB participation and performance increases, schools benefit, and the district itself is also strengthened. The district indicated that scores have risen particularly rapidly on state assessments and SATs in IB schools.

Concise Research Summary

Link to report  on the NYU website

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Perceptions of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme among Australian and New Zealand Universities

Hamish Coates, Chris Rosicka & Marita MacMahon-Ball, Australian Council for Educational Research

The IB commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research to undertake a study of University perceptions of the IB. Administrators from 40 Australian and 7 New Zealand universities were surveyed, with a response rate of 24.7%. The survey was followed by in-depth telephone interviews with select respondents. Asked to rate aspects of the IB on a scale of very low to very high (assigned values of 1 to 5), creativity, action, service (CAS) and theory of knowledge (TOK) had an average response of 3.3., the extended essay an average of 3.6, the two- year span of the course of study 3.4, the broad curriculum with six subject areas 3.9, the range of assessment strategies 3.9, and studying at least three subjects in depth 4.0. More than three-fourths of the 159 respondents felt the IB Diploma prepared students well for university while the remaining 23% responded that they did not know enough about the programme to be sure. Of 107 comments in response to an open ended question asking whether the IB prepared students in advantageous ways for success at university, 70% responded positively. Most of the advantages described could be categorized broadly as indicating that participating in the IB enhanced students’ academic competence and capability. In-depth interviews indicated that IB graduates were seen as academically independent and mature. A reccurring theme in interviews was recognition of the fact that an IB education is good preparation for an internationalized university experience. Interviews also indicated strong support for the extended essay and the TOK course. There was some perception that the IB is “elitist” and correspondingly, that academically capable students self-selected into the IB programme and therefore that benefits of the programme could not be separated from attributes of the students.

Executive Summary


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School-University Transition Project

IB Research Unit at the University of Bath (the IB Research Unit at Bath was closed in 2008)

From 2003-2005, the IB Research Unit at the University of Bath attempted to ascertain how academic performance in the IB Diploma Programme relates to university performance and whether university students with IB degrees display the values associated with international-mindedness.  Results showed there was little difference in dropout rates between IB diploma holders and non-IB students but that IB students were less likely to drop out for academic reasons and were more likely to transfer than to drop out completely.  In the IB Latin America region, IB graduates received better university grades and a positive correlation was found between IB grades and university grades.  Students surveyed felt academically prepared for university studies; however, while they felt creativity, action, service (CAS) prepared them to develop an appreciation for community service, they did not feel it prepared them in terms of the arts or sports. In comparing IB students from IB World Schools to non-IB students (most of whom were also from IB World Schools) in terms of their international values, only in questions related to “challenge” (prepared to change their opinion when challenged, prepared to challenge others views, prepared to compromise their own views) did IB students rate themselves significantly higher than non-IB students.

Summary Report

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Perceptions of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme: A Report of an Inquiry Carried Out in 2003 at UK Universities and Institutions of Higher Education

Colin Jenkins

In 2003, Colin Jenkins carried out a study surveying UK institutions of higher education.  Surveys were completed by 122 respondents from 71 universities, and in-depth follow-up interviews were conducted with 34 respondents from 20 of these universities.   96% of respondents appreciated broad curricula and liked this aspect of the IB, 91% approved of theory of knowledge (TOK), and 70% approved of creativity, action, service (CAS).  57% of respondents believed that participation in the IB Diploma Programme give incoming students an advantage and 40% felt it conferred neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. When asked to compare IB to A-Levels in the areas of critical thinking, communication, self management, and motivation a majority of the 78 respondents who answered the question rated the IB Diploma Programme higher than A-Levels in these areas.

Executive Summary


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