Letter to the Editors: June 1, 2018

The June 1, 2018, article titled “Impractical expenses make the IB mission an empty promise,” states, “the so-called ‘challenging programmes’ and ‘rigorous assessments’ are tedious and unattainable.” However, the reasoning behind the accusations of these being only “so called” is never explained or addressed, and seems to go against the prevailing response from alumni who come back and tell their teachers how well-prepared they were by the IB classes they took at NPHS. The article goes on to say, “IB chooses the most confusing route to explain even the most basic of assignments.” However, the IB Subject Guides are the result of a seven-year, ongoing revision cycle, which involves global collaboration among experts in their respective fields. While they may indeed lack lexical economy, length is often the direct result of thorough explanation. Bear in mind that English in a global sense requires, at times, that we use words that may be different than our local colloquialisms (such as using the term “invigilator” instead of “proctor”). However, academic terms are precisely defined, and Subject Guides are further explained to IB educators at IB workshops and through the IB online community of educators.  

 From there, the article goes on to state that other schools cannot provide the IB Program because it is cost-prohibitive. While quality education has an inherent cost, IBO is a non-profit organization. Yes, NPHS students have access to high-quality equipment in their science classes, but many students choose to conduct individual investigations that require only the most basic of materials. One can select low-tech or high-tech methods for investigating factors that affect growth rates in plants or the impact of cooking methods on vitamin-C concentrations in food. Therefore, a student with only low-tech means is not at any disadvantage to access to learning about these concepts. In the US, all students have access to a free public education and districts in low-socioeconomic areas tend to have additional sources of local and federal funding to meet the financial needs of the student population (to cover testing fees, for example). Across the globe, in developed and developing nations, students have access to IB curricula. While the cost of IB exams is passed on to families at NPHS, we have always found a way to make testing possible for students with financial need, thanks to district support and local contributions from Sage Publications. And university credits earned come at quite a bargain when compared with tuition costs. For example, UC Berkeley awards 10 credits for a 5, 6 or 7 on the IB English A: Language & Literature exam. While college credits are helpful and attainable, the ultimate value of IB education is the cultivation of critical thinking and inquiry-based learning, which includes becoming “active, compassionate and lifelong learners” (IBO mission statement).

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