New Studies Explore IB Students’ Preparedness for Success in the 21st Century


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In the IB’s 2014 Review of Research, results find IB programmes to have a positive impact on student preparedness for college, career and civic life

BETHESDA, MD, JULY 30—As education leaders and policymakers continue to prioritize college- and career- readiness, it is crucial to investigate the impact of academic programs focused on preparing young people. Throughout the past few years, the International Baccalaureate (IB) has increased research efforts to better understand the impact of IB programmes, inform the global conversation on student success and continually contribute to the improvement of education.

Toward that end, the IB has released a series of research studies this year, primarily exploring the impact of the Diploma Programme (DP), which is designed to prepare high school students for success at university and life beyond, and address the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of students.

The following summary of research findings reflects how the IB helps prepare students for success by creating college- and career-ready global citizens:

Among the findings:

IB graduates are more likely to persist through college: A new research study conducted by Dr. David Conley and a team of researchers from the Education Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) found that IB graduates in the University of Oregon’s Honors College were more likely to stay in college and persist in their studies than their non-IB peers. The researchers found that IB students were able to better cope with demanding workloads, manage their time and meet expectations.  

IB students are prepared for college-level coursework: A series of research studies from McGill UniversityUniversity of Warwick, and the University of Virginia (UVA) found that the DP extended essay prepares IB graduates to be successful in higher education research. The UVA study found that, when compared with former Advanced Placement (AP) students, IB students were significantly more likely to indicate that they felt prepared for college-level coursework involving research and found their research skills to be important to future success.

IB students demonstrate civic knowledge and skillsstudy conducted by Anna Rosefsky Saavedra of the RAND Corporation found that DP students demonstrate academic civic mindedness. For the purpose of the study, “academic civic-mindedness” was defined as student knowledge of the US government, public policy and effective advocacy techniques.   

IB students graduate with a sense of civic responsibility:  RMC Research found that IB students believe that they should engage in service activities to help the community.

IB students demonstrate strong critical thinking skills:  Research conducted by the University of Western Sydney suggests that Diploma Programme students are more confident in their ability to use critical thinking skills than their non-IB peers, and that DP students envision their future educational success more positively.

IB primary students demonstrate superior science literacyResearch conducted by Deakin University of Australia found that Australian students participating in the IB’s Primary Years Programme achieve particularly well in science literacy based on Australia’s national assessment program.

The IB prepares students from around the world to attend top universitiesResearchers from the University of Hong Kong found that a majority of students who graduated from IB programmes in China between 2002 and 2012 attended one of the world’s top 500 universities.

About the IB

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a not-for profit foundation, which offers four high quality and challenging education programmes for a worldwide community of schools. For more than 45 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for rigour and high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Currently, more than one million IB students attend nearly 3,700 schools in 146 countries.



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