International Baccalaureate implementation study: Examination of district-wide implementation in the US (2015)
Asher Beckwitt, Debbie Van Camp and Jennifer Carter—Asher Consulting, LLC
In 2013, three programmes of the International Baccalaureate (IB) were adopted and implemented district-wide in three school districts in the United States (US). This study explores IB implementation in two of the three districts, with a focus on outcomes in the Diploma Programme (DP). An exploratory, mixed methods case study was used to understand district-wide implementation in the two districts, using student performance data, surveys, interviews, focus groups and classroom observation. The study found that DP students frequently rate higher than available norm data on key non-academic student outcomes such as student engagement, global competence and cultural awareness, study habits, motivation and college readiness. Administrators and teachers believed that district-wide implementation assisted with “horizontal” communication among teachers, fostered a common IB language and structure, and facilitated “vertical” alignment among the programmes. Some of the challenges associated with district-wide implementation included the cost of IB programmes and aligning IB and state requirements. DP students reported a number of benefits from IB participation, including gaining critical thinking, research and study skills, but also noted that the programme was challenging and could be stressful.