International Baccalaureate Registration Tomorrow

With summer vacation quickly becoming a fleeting memory, many Clarke County High juniors and seniors are already embarking on their college journeys by the way of school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program. While IB allows a student to either obtain an internationally recognized IB diploma or simply earn college credits while still in high school, the program’s real value may be producing progressive thinkers and well rounded adults able to compete in the ever-more prevalent world economy.

“International Baccalaureate focuses on forming world-class learners and citizens” said Clarke County High School Principal Dr. John Werner. “IB is the only educational program that I know of that does that.”

According to the program’s website,, IB coursework “aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.”

CCHS’s encourages any student interested in a rigorous and challenging education journey to consider participating in the IB program.

And many students accept the challenge.

In the 2010 – 2011 academic year CCHS will offer classes, also referred to as ‘sections”, in 19 IB-subject areas. This year students occupy 704 seats in 49 separate sections.

“There is no application process for our IB program” said program director Thom Potts. “How well a student performs depends on the student. We welcome any student that wants to take the challenge.”

CCHS students participate in the IB program in two ways;

The first, and less often exercised, option allows the student to obtain an IB diploma by demonstrating a well-balanced blend of academic achievement, creativity, action and service.

IB diploma  curriculum consists of completing six courses from six different subject areas, writing an Extended Essay of up to 4,000 words, taking part in the Theory of Knowledge(TOK) class, and fulfilling a requirement of 50 hours in each of the Creative, Active and Service (CAS) pursuits. Grades are awarded from 1 to 7 in each subject, and up to three ‘bonus’ points may be awarded depending on the grade results of the EE and TOK. Thus, a total of 45 points may be obtained by the candidate for their final diploma. In order to receive an International Baccalaureate Diploma you must receive a minimum of 24 points.

If a student successfully consistently obtains scores of “4” or higher on an IB tests (grades are assigned by international graders using a 7-point scale) the student will receive not only college level credits, but an IB high school diploma recognized by academic institutions around the world.

The International Baccalaureate organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programs and maintain rigorous assessment. The programs are intended to encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

However, only a small number of CCHS students actually choose to pursue an IB diploma, opting instead to participate in IB courses but not taking the IB graded exams.

A big part of the reason for the small number of IB diploma seekers may be cost.

“Our number of IB test takers has gone down” said to Dr. Werner. “A major contributor to the decline is that students now have to pay to take their IB tests.”

In 2008 the Clarke County School Board elected to stop automatic funding for IB testing, effectively transferring much of the cost of the program to individual families. Now, since all IB courses also qualify for “dual enrollment” credit from Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) provided that the student pays tuition costs, students are faced with an economic decision of where to best spend their money; Dual enrollment offering a high likelihood LFCC college level credits, which are mandated by law for automatic acceptance at Virginia colleges throughout the state, versus IB courses that only translate into college credit if the student scores well enough on an internationally assessed test.

A student electing to pay for both dual enrollment credit and IB credit, often amounting to hundreds of dollars of costs per class, creates a difficult challenge for many families given the economic climate.

After weighing the costs and benefits many students elect to pay only the dual enrollment fees.

Even though earning dual enrollment credits may be well suited to students intending to enter Virginia’s excellent college system, the IB diploma and coursework carries more weight with national and international colleges and universities because of the IB’s rigorous standards and international assessment system according to Dr. Werner.

Potts and Werner say that IB helps students develop an understanding of their own cultural and national identity and a positive attitude to learning  by encouraging challenging questions, critical reflection, research skills development and participation in community service.

“IB students are taught to develop higher order thinking skills” Werner said. “The program encourages kids to look at a subject and think about how it integrates with the world around them. Instead of just learning about “genetics” as a science, an IB student is asked to demonstrate how genetic research interacts with politics, philosophy, morality and ethics in addition to science.”

Even if a student elects not to pursue the IB diploma or the IB sanctioned testing, Werner and Potts agree that the quality of learning in the IB classes is not diminished. That’s because approximately 10% of CCHS’s instructional staff qualify to teach dual enrollment courses and the majority of dual enrollment courses are also IB certified.

Both Potts and Werner, are strong advocates of the IB program and hope to see IB enrollment rise this year even if students don’t opt to pursue the IB testing or diploma.

“I championing the goal that as many kids as possible try for an IB diploma” Werner said. “But the opportunity to take rigorous classes and challenge themselves is the most valuable thing.”

Potts echoed Werner’s statements; “The IB diploma curriculum offers an outstanding education for both excellent careers and producing excellent citizens. I strongly encourage as many students as possible to pursue the diploma.”

CCHS students interested in IB courses will be asked to attend a registration session in the high school cafeteria on September 9 at 9:00 am. Students seeking to register for Lord Fairfax Community College dual enrollment credit must do so by September 13.

For more information please contact Thom Potts at

Additional information about IB from Thom Potts, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Coordinator:

Receiving high grades on IB exams or earning an IB diploma does not automatically result in receiving college credit. That depends on the individual colleges and universities that students attend. Some schools are very generous in awarding credit for IB test scores, others less so. It is our experience, though, that as IB becomes better known and more widespread in the United States, more American colleges and universities are willing to grant credit for it. In any case, on the IB website at<>, there is a University Recognition Directory that provides details about the IB policies of higher educational institutions located throughout the world, including charts showing the policies of colleges and universities in every state of the U.S.

Not all CCPS IB courses are dual-enrolled with Lord Fairfax Community College. Teaching IB courses in a high school and teaching classes under the auspices of the Virginia Community College System are two different things with two different sets of requirements. So while some IB courses are also dual-enrolled, not all of them are. Likewise, we offer a number of dual-enrollment classes in career and technical fields which are not IB courses. While there is some overlap between the two, IB and dual-enrollment are completely different programs.

We feel that pursuing an International Baccalaureate diploma or certificates is a very worthwhile academic endeavor, and we’re pleased to share information about the program with the community.


  1. Don Specht says:

    There are two items in this article that ought to impress the entire CC community:

    49 sections of IB instruction

    All IB sections are also under the dual enrollment umbrella of Lord Fairfax CC

    Given the requirement that the instructor in a DE class must have a Masters degree with significant hours of post-grad course work in the subject being taught, the local community should be impressed with the level of instruction that the hs brings to the table for its students.

    • As impressive as that is, and it is impressive, the entire IB philosophy of not only teaching, but directly relating the learning to real-life and worldwide history, events, trends, and cultures makes the IB program a most valuable experience for any student. They learn to consider what they have learned. They learn to think more! The fact that the internationally recognized curriculum may lead to an equally recognized diploma is just icing on the cake. The IB courses have made big differences in the students who embrace them, IB diploma or not. But the diplama is widely recognized at colleges and universities in the US and abroad. This is a highly worthwhile curriculum and it’s a real shame the district chose to stop funding the student registration and test fees.

      • Sandra Stickovitch says:

        I don’t see it as a shame that the school district stopped paying for the test fees. I had to pay all of my daughter’s AP fees this year-4 in all and they are not cheap. I would not expect the school to pay it. That’s our responsibility, not the taxpayers.

        I just have never understood why the high school pushes the IB program and does not give both IB and AP an option for the students. According to the CDN, CCHS only offers 3 AP classes….thats not much of an option. It seems that if the student wants to get an advanced diploma, IB is their only choice. That doesn’t seem much of a choice.

      • The district stopped funding the tests because it was too expensive. I’d still like to see the results of all the tests taken, how the students scored, how many tried the IB diploma prgram versus how many that actually received the diploma.

        I don’t buy for 1 second that the main reason for the drop in test takers was the cost. I’d say the main reason was that the students didn’t feel they were prepared well enough to successfully pass the test.

        • I spent some time working with the schools and it’s a shame that people in this county have bought into this whole philosophy.

  2. Sandra Stickovitch says:

    Is AP focused on at CCHS as strongly as IB is? What is the enrollment of AP students?

    CDN Editor: CCHS is primarily an IB school system. Three AP courses are offered according to school officials; AP Calculus, AP Government and AP Physics.

  3. I’m almost afraid to post after past attacks. But……… Just to let you know that what Clarke is doing is not unusual. Loudoun County does not do any IB courses. They do lots of AP courses. I have taught in Loudoun for 23 years. For the first 10-15 years they didn’t pay for any AP testing. It was up to the student to pay if they wished to take the test. Seven or 8 years ago they decided to start paying the fee. Starting about 2 years ago, due to budget restraints they stopped paying the fee and it is now the responsibility of the student. I personally agree with the change. The student can still take the class and benefit from the AP material and can then choose to pay or not to pay. It was costing the County LOTS of money to pay for tests. At Loudoun County High School last year there were close to 600 AP tests taken. If you multiply that by the 10 high schools in the county then there were close to 6000 AP tests taken at the cost of about $86/test. That is over half a million dollars.

    • Sandra Stickovitch says:

      I promise not to attack you! 🙂

      I agree that it should be up to each family to cover the cost. Now, with that being said not every family can afford the $86.00 fees per AP course-that is when the district should offer to pay the fees depending on family income, etc.The same should go for IB fees.

      Thanks for the insight.

  4. Concerning the school division’s decision in FY09, due to budget cuts, to stop paying the fees for both IB and AP, please note that the division continues to pay the fees for students from economically stressed families, and also that there is an active community group (the “CCCC” – Clarke County Concerned Citizens for Education) that has been involved in very successful fund-raising and working closely with the division, resulting in their donating sufficient funding to pay for all students taking the IB/AP tests, upon request by their families.

    We can confirm that no student is refused the opportunity to participate in advanced courses because of an inability to pay for the tests.


    • But how can IB credit be given when the instructor for the IB course does not have the IB accredidation to teach the course?

      • Teachers are sent to training to learn the IB material. How can IB credit be given?? By scoring well on the test, thats HOW!

        • No, the teacher must be CERTIFIED in order for the IB credit to be given. Otherwise, the student is wasting their time.

          • Why are you asking readers to take your word on this? Cite some info pertaining to IB certification of classroom teachers.

            If IB handles this issue in a way similar to AP, then you are wrong.


            “All schools wishing to label a course “AP” must submit the subject-specific AP Course Audit form and the course syllabus for each teacher of that AP course.”

            The teacher does NOT have to attend any workshops or week-long institutes in order to teach an AP course.

            Personally I think that you need to look no further than passing muster under the Virginia Community College system. The fact that every IB course is served by someone who has adjunct professor status with LFCC is a very good thing indeed.

          • Personal experience. If the teacher does not have the proper IB Certification, then the class will not count for college credit.

          • I should also qualify that it is up to the colleges/universities whether or not they accept the IB class as a college credit. The main determinant being teacher certification on the subject. This is what we were told by several admissions counselors.

          • What “personal experience?”

            Stop playing dodgeball. What constitutes IB certification? Paraphrasing old timey USENET parlance, post proof of shut up.

          • ALL students are not IB material; yes, we should always challenge them, but from talking to students in the school, there are very few options otherwise.

          • Concerned Parent says:

            We are a new family in the community and I questioned the school administration on numerous occasions why IB classes are pushed so much more than AP. I never really got a direct answer. Our child is in middle school and I for one am not impressed with the IB curriculum. It seems that is the only option.

            Can someone shed some light on this mysterious and obsessive way of teaching? We are used to having more options than what is being offered here in Clarke.

            CDN Editor: Dr. John Werner and Mr. Thom Potts were interviewed for CDN’s IB article. Both have an expert understanding of the IB and AP curriculum and will be able to address why CCHS emphasizes IB classes for you.

          • Concerned Parent says:

            I meant to say that our child is in the middle school and I am not impressed with the IB curriculum at the high school.