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Research plays a central role in the development, quality assurance and assessment of IB programme outcomes. The IB commissions research to leading research institutions and universities around the world, and also conducts a small number of studies in-house.

Interim report: Study of IB students’ high school and post-secondary experiences: US public schools serving students from low-income households (2017)

This report highlights interim findings from a longer-term study that is currently underway (2015–2019). The study examines the high school and post-secondary experiences of International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) students in US public schools serving students from predominantly low-income households with little or no history of college-going. Compared to their non-IB peers, DP students generally perceived their classrooms as more rigorous, participated in more extra-curricular activities and had higher educational aspirations. Preliminary findings about DP alumni indicated that this group of students transitioned smoothly to college, had strong study skills and demonstrated self-efficacy and resilience. The survey analysis found statistically significant differences, in favor of DP students, in seven out of the eight outcome variables examined in this study.




Working to My Potential: Experiences of CPS Students in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (i.e. “the Chicago study”) (2012)

In the 1990s Chicago Public Schools (CPS) implemented International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programmes (DP) in 12 neighborhood high schools throughout the city serving predominantly low income, racial/ethnic minority students with little to no history of college-going. Findings indicate that students who are in the DP are more likely to enroll in college, more likely to enroll in a more selective college and more likely to stay enrolled, compared to matched non-IB students. Analysis suggests that IB students are both going to better colleges at higher rates and performing better once there. Overall, the DP students interviewed generally felt that they were academically well-prepared to engage and succeed in college coursework, and described strong analytical writing and math preparation, motivation, work habits, organization and time management as strengths. This research suggests DP students in CPS experience stronger, more demanding and more supportive learning environments than similar students in honors programmes or selective enrollment high schools.


Full report


International Baccalaureate programmes in Title I schools in the United States: Accessibility, participation and university enrollment (published in 2015, updated in 2021)

US schools with a high proportion of students from low-income families are eligible to become Title I schools, which allows for the allotment of federal resources to attempt to close the achievement gap (US Department of Education, 2014). This study identifies trends in Title I schools offering IB programmes, explores issues of access to the IB, and examines the postsecondary trajectories of IB students from Title I schools. Overall, 60% of all public schools that offered one or more IB programme(s) in the US were designated Title I in 2012–2013. The findings indicate that Diploma Programme (DP) students from Title I schools, including students from low-income families, enroll in college at much higher rates than national averages. Moreover, DP students from Title I schools enroll in college at the same rate as DP students from US public schools generally. These findings suggest that students from many different backgrounds who participate in the DP are similarly successful in terms of postsecondary enrollment.

Research brief


International Baccalaureate: National trends for low-income students 2008–2014 (2015)

This study examines the postsecondary trajectories of low-income International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) candidates and course takers from public schools in the United States from 2008–2014. The findings indicated that while the participation of low-income students in the DP has increased, overall student performance in the DP has remained fairly constant. Furthermore, postsecondary results for low-income DP candidates in particular were promising. Low-income DP candidates had high immediate enrollment rates in two- and four-year postsecondary institutions (82%), high first-year retention rates (87%) and high graduation rates (72% after six years). These results were substantially higher than the rates for low-income students nationally and were comparable to higher-income DP students. Although DP course takers tended to perform less well than DP candidates, their graduation rates were also higher than low-income students nationally.


Full report


Academic Performance of IB Students Entering the University of California System from 2000‐2002 (2010)

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. 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. 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.