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Research shows that the IB Diploma prepares students in Mexico for university success

A research team led by Anna Rosefsky Saavedra of RAND Education has released new findings about the relationship between Mexican students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme and their subsequent college preparedness at Mexican universities. This study was undertaken to learn more about the IB Diploma Programme in Mexico and its impact on students as they pursue opportunities in higher education.

In Mexico, 58 schools offer the Diploma Programme (DP), a rigorous inquiry-based educational programme undertaken during the last two years of secondary school. “Since the year 2000, Mexico has more than quadrupled its number of IB World Schools,” says Drew Deutsch, Regional Director, IB Americas. “We expect further growth not only in Mexico but throughout Latin America.” This study adds to the growing body of research that points to the fact that an IB Diploma offers students a promising future-- in secondary school and beyond.

Because virtually all DP schools in Mexico are private or university-based secondary schools, researchers selected a sample of four case-study schools that included a mix of the two. Researchers then interviewed the sample’s DP coordinators, teachers, school administrators and guidance counselors to collect data that would illuminate “typical” DP schools in Mexico and that would facilitate comparisons between the private and university-based programs and what each meant to IB students who were university-bound. To this end researchers investigated each student’s individual focus of study and university majors as well as university major combinations.

Across all four case study schools, interview data consistently indicated that stronger students select to enroll in the DP. This is further substantiated with performance in courses from the Mexican national curriculum completed prior to uptake of IB DP. In these courses, DP students earned a mean and median score between 8 and 9 which is considered “good” by national standards. A score of 10 is considered “excellent”. Most teachers and administrators described IB students as those with a “strong academic background”, “curiosity to learn new things” and “better at analysis and questioning than non-IB students”. Most students explained their decision to enroll in the Diploma Programme as stemming from lack of satisfaction with other options and from their desire to take on a new challenge.

IB students, teachers and administrators in the studied sample said they believe that the Diploma Programme prepares students for the challenge of college course work. One teacher summarized the findings well, saying: “IB is not as important for admissions as it is for college performance.”

Not surprisingly, given their characteristics—consistent with the IB Learner Profile—of the 89 Diploma Programme students that enrolled in ranked university–major combinations, 42% enrolled in a #1 ranked program and 82% in a Top 5 program. Of those who attended university-hosted schools in the sample, 34% received some form of scholarship during at least their first year of university. The majority of the scholarships, 60%, went to students from the university-hosted IB programmes who continued their studies at the same university.

The full report, prepared by RAND, is available at http://www.ibo.org/research/policy/programmevalidation/diploma/. The full report citation is:
Saavedra, A, Lavore, E, Flores, G. 2013. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in Mexico as Preparation for Higher Education. Santa Monica, CA. RAND Education.

About the IB

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a not-for profit foundation, which offers four high quality and challenging educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools. Its flagship programme is the Diploma Programme for 16-19 years-olds. For 45 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for rigour and high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Currently more than 1 million IB students attend over 3,600 schools in 145 countries.

For more information, contact:
Robin Khan, robin.khan@ibo.org