IB Program History and Curriculum Description

Program History

After an extensive application process, the International Baccalaureate Program opened in the fall of 1997 as a Cobb County magnet program at Campbell High School. The IB Diploma Program is a comprehensive, pre-university course of study that incorporates international perspectives within a rigorous core curriculum in both the math/science and humanities areas of the curriculum. The International Baccalaureate Organization in Geneva, Switzerland bases the program on the concept that upper secondary level education should encompass a broad range of subjects, which accommodate diverse student interests and intentions while consistently adhering to high academic standards. Consequently, only schools officially approved by the International Baccalaureate Organization are authorized to offer the IB curriculum, which is not based on any specific high school graduation requirement or the graduation requirements of any one country. Instead, it is an advanced program for students who want to participate in a challenging academic environment that gives them a global perspective on people, cultures, history, and events while meeting the highest academic requirements for admission to top colleges in the US and abroad. Therefore, the student who satisfies the demands of the IB program demonstrates a strong commitment to learning, both in terms of mastery of subject content and in development of the skills and discipline necessary for success in a competitive world.

Curriculum Description

The five-subject core curriculum offers an accelerated and advanced curriculum designed to ensure that the math/science-oriented student becomes knowledgeable about language and cultures, and that the humanities-oriented student explores advanced levels of mathematics and science. In addition to the core curriculum, technology is integrated throughout the program, while sixth subject electives offer advanced study options in economics and art. While overall balance is maintained, flexibility in choosing higher-level concentrations allows the student to pursue areas of personal interest as well as to meet special requirements for highly competitive university entrance. Classroom study is further extended by critical reflection on theories of knowledge, by participation in extracurricular activities and community service, and by completion of independent research. In addition to receiving a high school diploma with a seal indicating completion of a college preparatory program with distinction, students are also awarded the prestigious IB diploma upon successful completion of international examinations in the six subject areas of the curriculum. Since the rigor and high quality of the diploma program is recognized nationally and internationally, IB diploma holders frequently gain admission and scholarship advantage to highly selective universities throughout the world. In addition, the unique blend of courses leading to examination in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) provide the IB diploma candidate with maximum opportunities for advanced standing credit at competitive colleges and universities.

Core curriculum:

•    Language A1 (English) – The four-year pre-IB and IB sequence includes advanced honors and accelerated American, British, and World Literature with high-level analysis and advanced composition throughout in preparation for higher-level examinations. The stated aim of the IB Language A1 curriculum is that students will develop an articulate personal and critical response to literature that is expressed clearly and concisely in oral and written forms of communication. The oral and written work produced by IB students is held to an international standard of excellence that ensures the advanced nature/level of their learning in preparation for both the AP and IB examinations.

•    Language B (Foreign Language – French or Spanish) – IB students usually start a language in the middle school and complete 5 years prior to examination at the end of the junior year.  A sixth-year language and literature IB elective offers students an opportunity for mastery of the target language and higher-level examination in the senior year. The sequence provides a fast-paced immersion environment designed to build proficiency in the four modalities of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The curriculum focuses on building for advanced grammatical concepts and incorporation of literature from multiple genres to lead to proficiency in natural use of language in varied situations.  IB exam preparation includes text-handling, writing, and oral presentation.

•    Individuals and Societies – The curriculum includes advanced honors/accelerated World Geography, World History, IB History of the Americas, and IB Twentieth Century World Topics with instruction and examinations at higher level only. The Pre-IB courses in geography and history prepare students for the regional and modern world focus of the 11th and 12th grade sequence. College texts are used along with primary documents from a variety of sources to expand students’ understanding of important issues in historical debate. Document analysis, analytical essays, and historiography are emphasized throughout in preparation for the international examinations.

•    Experimental Science – Advanced honors/accelerated Biology, Chemistry, and Physics are required in the 9th and 10th grades, followed by a two-year IB concentration in a science of the student’s choice. The core curriculum in each scientific area provides extensive, post-AP college-level instruction and preparation for the IB higher-level examination.  Additional options required for in-depth study within each discipline include opportunities for concentration in select areas, such as diet and human nutrition, physiology of exercise, neurobiology and behavior, biochemistry, medicine and drugs, environmental chemistry, fuels and energy, quantum physics and nuclear physics, biomedical physics, astrophysics, and optics. In addition to the course requirements in the selected science area, all IB students must participate in a collaborative IB science project where concepts and perspectives from across the scientific disciplines are shared with an emphasis on interdisciplinary cooperation and application of the processes of scientific investigation. Past topics include the environment (Chattahoochee River corridor), hydrogen as an alternate fuel, peanut shells as a hydrogen fuel source, and performance enhancers; the 2004 topic will be cell regeneration.

•    Mathematics – Students accepted into the IB Program typically enter with Algebra I credit from middle school; 9th and 10th grade Pre-IB courses include advanced honors/accelerated Euclidean Geometry, Algebra II, and Analysis or Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry. The junior/senior mathematics concentration may be taken in one of three areas: IB Math Studies, IB Math Methods, or IB Higher Level Math. The common core curriculum includes numbers and algebra, sets and logic, geometry and trigonometry, functions and equations, and statistics and probability. In addition, Math Studies includes financial mathematics, introductory differential calculus, and statistics, while Math Methods includes vector geometry and AP calculus. Higher Level Math adds detailed study in statistics, sets, discrete mathematics, analysis and approximation, or Euclidean geometry and conic sections.

•    Sixth Subject Elective – Students have a choice of Art/Design or Economics to satisfy the sixth-subject IB requirement. The Visual Arts elective requires the student to express a personal vision through choice of media and an area of concentration. Prior to selecting Visual Arts as a sixth subject, students are encouraged to take at least one class in Pre-IB Art to learn the fundamentals of design and master techniques of drawing, painting, and sculpting. IB examination includes presentation of a portfolio plus student exhibition for both standard and higher level options. The Economics elective includes macro-, micro-, international, and developmental economics with higher and standard level examination options. Students build the skills necessary for economic reasoning by analyzing and investigating consumption, production, and business operations. The emphasis throughout is on analytical reasoning and data analysis in preparation for IB examinations.

Additional Components:

•    Theory of Knowledge is a required interdisciplinary study within the IB curriculum. Students engage in critical reflection and analysis as they explore relationships and philosophical perspectives across multiple disciplines.

•    The Extended Essay requires students to conduct an in-depth study of a limited topic within a major subject area identified by IB and to document findings and results in an essay of approximately 4,000 words. Its purpose is to provide students with an opportunity to engage in independent research. Emphasis is placed on the process of engaging in personal research, the communication of ideas and information in a logical and coherent manner, and the overall presentation of the extended essay in compliance with IB standards and guidelines. These essays are mailed worldwide to evaluators at leading universities who assess the papers and send the scores to the IBO in Wales; the points from the essays are averaged into the individual students’ overall IB test scores to determine receipt of the IB diploma. Begun in the junior year, this project is completed by December of the senior year. Students work under the guidance of teacher mentors who specialize in the various subject areas. The responsibilities of these mentors include encouraging and supporting the student throughout the research and writing of the extended essay, providing the candidate with advice and guidance in the skills of undertaking research, and ensuring that the extended essay is the student’s own work.

Subject areas include the following :

  • Language (Literature)
  • Philosophy, World Religions
  • Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Systems
  • Visual Arts, Theater Arts, Music
  • Mathematics, Computer Science, Economics
  • History, Politics, Social Anthropology

Sample titles of student essays:

  • The Power of Individualism: The Universality of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
  • The Development of Complex Numbers and Their Application in Electromagnetism
  • Folk Pottery in Gainesville, GA: An Uncertain Future for a Declining Art
  • A Psychological Analysis of the Effects of Advertising on Eating Disorders
  • Possibilities and Predictions for the Universe Based on the Big Bang Model
  • Folk Artists of the Southeastern United States and Their Stories
  •  An Investigation and Analysis of the 4 Degree Celsius Stall in the Cooling Rate of Water as It Begins to Freeze

Community Service

Receipt of the IB Diploma also includes compulsory participation in CAS – Creativity, Action, and Service in the community. Students begin formal documentation after the sophomore year of the program and meet the requirement in a variety of ways both with on-campus and off-campus involvement. A CAS coordinator evaluates the strength of each student’s involvement for seriousness of approach and degree of service. The IB Coordinator must certify satisfactory completion of the requirement for each diploma candidate prior to evaluation by the International Baccalaureate Organization.