As you've heard me say many times before, the International Baccalaureate is a unified curriculum that is applied differently at every school where it's offered. Every school has to choose which subjects to test higher and standard level, whether to have juniors test, and whether to allow students to do only part of the program. At Mira Loma we've faced these same decisions and come up with a program that is based on the idea that IB at our school should be available to the largest number of students possible. This post will explain how IB is structured at Mira Loma and what kind of student succeeds in each of our three IB options.
Certificate Students at Mira Loma are those who are taking between one and three IB testing classes, leading to no more than three exams. These students are frequently passionate about one subject or two, but don't feel motivated or comfortable with the idea of doing four or more exams. They are not required to take Theory of Knowledge, but often do so out of general interest. They are also not required to do CAS or write an Extended Essay.
Mira Loma Associate Students are those who take four exams, usually two higher level and two standard level. These are students who love school, but who have something else in life they love just as much - frequently sports or music. They also are required to take Theory of Knowledge and to do 100 hours of CAS. They are motivated students who don't want to give up their out of school passion to do the whole program.
Diploma Students are those who take six exams, usually three higher level and three standard level. They love school and are used to excelling. In addition to the six exams, they take the Theory of Knowledge course, do 150 hours of CAS and write an extended essay of 4,000 words. This is a heavy load, and it leads me to believe that the senior year for diploma students is much more like the first year of college was for their parents; challenging but also highly rewarding. Diploma students need to be intrinsically motivated and highly organized. Students who lack either of these qualities rarely make it through the diploma program.
Spring of the 10th grade is when the decision about certificate, ML Associate or Diploma is generally made. Parents and students need to ask themselves how motivated they are to succeed. They also need to carefully assess what the student and the family might have to sacrifice in order to complete the full diploma program. All three kinds of students go on to various kinds of colleges - UC campuses, elite private schools, even the national service academies. So the decision should be based on what works best for your student now, not on some expectation of elite college acceptance.
These three options make it possible for Mira Loma to test roughly 250 students a year - many times more than most public high schools which have the IB program. Our goal is to have a place within IB for all students who share the motivation to learn about themselves and the world around them.