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November 10, 2011

18

IB Diploma Schools in Florida: Mean Scores

by aedpad
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My daughter attended a middle school in Switzerland that provided dual tracts to the International Baccalaureate (“IB”) or the French Baccalaureate Diploma; alternatives to a typical high school diploma. When we decided to move back to the United States, I contacted the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) in Geneva, Switzerland to find out about IB Diploma schools since we preferred to continue with the program.

The IBO website (www.ibo.org) told me there were 743 IB Diploma schools in the US, of which 72 offered the IB Diploma program in Florida but they provided no performance information about each school.

Specifically, a parent considering the IB diploma program needs to know 4 things;
  1. What courses are offered at the standard and high level;
  2. The IB Diploma has a higher threshold than a high school diploma;
  3. The percentage of candidates who earned the IB diploma; and
  4. The mean (or average) of the IB Diploma class.
Standard and High Level Courses

The IB Diploma curriculum requires students to choose subject courses from groups that include math, science, literature, language, business, and the arts.  Some schools don’t offer standard and high level courses in every subject so request a list to determine if courses in the area your child excels are offered at the high level because every IB Diploma candidate must take 3 subject tests at the higher level.  Many colleges in fact give credit to any student that earns a 4 or higher on an IB test so many freshman enter college with credits.

The standard courses are typically yearlong while the higher level courses are two years in length.

The IB Has a Higher Threshold

The IB program has grown rapidly in the United States, especially in the public school system because the program is broad-based and academically sound. Any school that adopts the program needs to be commended as they are raising the academic standards of the school: a student that earns the IB diploma – no matter the score – has successfully studied 3 subject areas at a standard level and 3 subject areas at a high level (comparable to an AP level).  By contrast, a high school diploma does not require any subject area to be studied at the AP level. Therefore, first and foremost the earning of an IB diploma is a great achievement.

The Percentage of Candidates that Earned the IB Diploma

Approximately 80% of the worldwide candidates earn the IB diploma but only 70% of the candidates in the US earn the IB diploma. There are two factors to consider in this rate: the student and the school. School success rates vary and although important, the rate needs to be interpreted with caution because the trend is also important:  Is the school on an upward or downward trend or consistently producing the same pass rate?For example, if a school has a 60% pass rate year after year, then questions need to be asked regarding how candidates are chosen and being prepared.  Those reporting pass rates of 90% or higher need to be commended.

Mean (Average) of the IB Diploma Class

Just as the SAT, ACT, and AP scores are important barometers for parents who send their children through a “normal” high school curriculum, the mean score of the IB Diploma class is an important barometerApplicants with higher SAT, ACT, and AP scores get into better colleges as do applicants with higher IB scores. Although seniors take the final tests in May and scores are not reported until July (after college acceptances), admission officers are not taking a shot in the dark in estimating what the IB score will be based on the standard level tests already taken, the strength of curriculum (courses) and grades, SAT or ACT scores, AP exams (if taken), and SAT subject tests (if taken). It’s simply not true that an admission officer familiar with the IB can’t tell a student that will score in the 20′s from a student that will score in the low 30′s, high 30′s, or 40′s.

There are six subject tests in the IB curriculum, each graded from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest) with the “passing” grade a 4.  The total passing range of scores for an IB Diploma is 24 – 42. Three additional points can be earned based on the essay and successful completion of a course called Theory of Knowledge. In addition, each candidate has to complete the CAS, which is essentially 150 hours of community service.

The mean score should not include certificate scores (students that took a subject test for a certificate) because an IB Certificate program is not the same as an IB Diploma. Students earn an IB certificate by taking a subject test.  IB Diploma earners have to meet all the subject test requirements. The mean score should only include the scores of the students that successfully completed the IB diploma program.

I contacted the IBO and asked for the mean scores of schools in Florida and was informed this information is not provided by the IBO to the public citing privacy concerns. When asked how a mean score of an IB diploma class at a public school in the US violates anyone’s privacy, I was advised to contact the schools directly. Somehow the Swiss always fall back on that privacy defense – Swiss banking comes to mind – when my intuition tells me the reason probably has more to do with profitability rather than privacy.

The IBO provides a statistical report annually to each school that includes:
  • The number of students that are registered (candidates) for the IB diploma;
  • The number of candidates that passed the IB diploma exams;
  • The score of each candidate;
  • The mean score of those awarded the diploma;
  • The average score obtained by the candidates that passed the IB diploma exams;
  • The highest diploma points (score) awarded to a student;
  • The mean of the test scores on the subject tests;

The stonewalling of the IBO was astounding and although I didn’t particularly relish contacting schools to get this information,  I was determined to have the information that I had a right to know.  Under the Freedom of Information Act, this information (at the public school level) has to be made available to anyone asking for it. Private schools do not have to release this information but because they rely on private tuition, they tend to release these figures when asked, especially if the school’s mean scores are high.

I e-mailed and/or called the IB coordinator at each of the 72 schools that offer the IB Diploma in Florida. A few readily provided the information.  Several IB coordinators referred me to the Florida League of IB Schools, known as “FLIBS” (www.flibs.org) as a resource, but this website only includes basic information (i.e. location) and nearly half of the schools are not listed. Skip FLIBS and contact the IB coordinator at each school.

Most IB coordinators ignored my request or claimed they didn’t have this information until I reminded them the IBO provides the school with an annual statistical report with this information and  that in order to issue an IB diploma, a score has to be known. Still many coordinators said they don’t release this information and only provided the mean when advised they were obligated to under the Freedom of Information Act. And surprisingly, a few coordinators tried to convince me the mean wasn’t relevant when in fact, the mean is very relevant just as the SAT, ACT, and AP scores and means are relevant. These scores don’t tell the whole story but they certainly tell part of it. 

More often than not, I explained to the IB Coordinator that parents are readily provided SAT, ACT, and AP mean scores, and therefore, the mean score of the IB Diploma class should be provided without parents jumping through hoops. Not one Florida IB Diploma school reported the mean on their school website. The question begs: Why?

The IB is big business in the US primarily in the public school system where schools desperately needed to improve and consequently added the IB program to achieve better results. The US is the largest IB country in the world with 1,298 schools (in a very distant second place is Canada with just 310 schools), of which 296 offer the primary years program, 444 the middle years program, and 743 the IB diploma program And, the program is growing rapidly. The IBO may be secretive because the market is young, growing, and profitable for the IBO and because the US mean score (27.5) is below the world mean score (30.7).

Although the US does not have the top performing IB Diploma schools in the world, the growth in the primary and middle school years program will better prepare candidates to take on the rigors of the IB Diploma program and mean scores should eventually rise.  But, progress takes time and until US schools reach that pinnacle, the IBO does not want to release mean scores of schools to the public and does not encourage schools to release this information to the public…and, yet the mean scores at public schools are public information.

Just as college admission officers are interested in SAT, ACT, and AP results, they are also interested in IB diploma scores – it’s not a one size, fits all despite what IB Coordinators and Guidance Counselors may be preaching. There are numerous blogs that discuss this issue and the consensus seems to be that most Ivy League schools want to see a 38 or above, which only 15% of IB diploma candidates in the world achieve. However, the US has so many excellent colleges and universities that those scoring in the low to mid-30′s are also very desirable applicants. And, finally those that score in the mid to high 20′s may not gain entrance to an Ivy League school but they will be accepted and most likely be given college credits at other fine colleges and universities.

The list below delineates schools by county based on the most recent mean score which was reported to me by the IB Coordinator or designee at each school.  Every school that offers the IB diploma has an IB Coordinator and this person is the best resource for more information.

COUNTY, SCHOOL, AND CITY and the Mean IB Diploma Score

Alachua County

Eastside High School, Gainesville:   31

Bay County

Rutherford High School, Panama City:   31

Brevard County
Cocoa Beach High School, Cocoa Beach:  28

Melbourne High School, Melbourne:  26

Broward County
Boyd Anderson High School, Lauderdale Lakes:   29
Deerfield Beach High School, Deerfield Beach:  30
Miramar High School, Miramar:   27
North Broward Preparatory School, Coconut Creek:   31

Plantation High School, Plantation:  First IB Diploma Class in 2012

Citrus County

Lecanto High School, Lecanto:   First IB Diploma Class in 2012

Clay County

Ridgeview High School Academy for Adv Studies, Orange Park:   30

Dade County
Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, Miami:   30
Coral Gables Senior High School, Coral Gables:   28
Coral Reef High School, Miami:   31
Gulliver Preparatory School, Miami:   34
John A Ferguson Senior High School, Miami:   29
Miami Beach Senior High School, Miami Beach:   First IB Diploma Class in 2012
North Miami Senior High School, North Miami:   30

South Dade Senior High School, Homestead:   First IB Diploma Class in 2012

Duval County
Jean Ribault High School, Jacksonville:   Discontinuing IB  in 2012
Paxon School for Advanced Studies, Jacksonville:   29

Stanton College Preparatory School, Jacksonville:   31

Escambia County

Pensacola High School, Pensacola:   29

Flagler County

Flagler Palm Coast High School, Palm Coast:   26

Hernando County

Springstead High School, Spring Hill:   31

Highlands County

Sebring High School, Sebring:   First IB Diploma Class in 2012

Hillsborough County
C Leon King High School, Tampa:   30
Carrollwood Day School, Tampa:   20′s?*
Hillsborough High School, Tampa:   26
Strawberry Crest High School, Dover:   First IB Diploma Class in 2013

T R Robinson High School, Tampa:   28

* Carrollwood is a private school and would not release the mean score because “their small number of students skew their statistics dramatically” so if this school is a consideration, insist on getting the mean score, range of scores, and pass rates.

Indian River County

Sebastian River High School, Sebastian:   31

Lee County
Cape Coral High School, Cape Coral:   28
Fort Myers High School, Fort Myers:   27

Riverdale High School, Fort Myers:   30

Leon County

James S Rickards High School, Tallahassee:   28

Manatee County

Southeast High School, Bradenton:   29

Marion County
Lake Weir High School, Ocala:   First IB Diploma Class in 2012

Vanguard High School, Ocala:   29

Martin County

South Fork High School, Stuart:   31

Okaloosa County

Choctawhatchee High School, Ft Walton Beach:   28

Orange County
Cypress Creek High School, Orlando:   30
Evans High School, Orlando:   First IB Diploma Class in 2011*
Jones High School, Orlando:    First IB Diploma Class in 2011*
University High School, Orlando:   25
Windermere Preparatory School, Windemere:   24

Winter Park High School, Winter Park:   29

*Both schools are unclear if there were any successful IB Diploma candidates as the scores are either low or still pending.

Osceola County
Celebration High School, Celebration:   First IB Diploma Class in 2013

Gateway High School, Kissimmee:   28

Palm Beach County
Atlantic Community High School, Delray Beach:   30
Boca Prep International School, Boca Raton:   37*
Cardinal Newman High School, West Palm Beach:   31
Forest Hill Community High School, West Palm Beach:   21
Pahokee Middle/Senior High School, Pahokee:   27
St. Andrews School, Boca Raton:   First IB Diploma Class in 2012
Suncoast Community High School, Riviera Beach:   31

William T Dwyer High School, Palm Beach Gardens:   First IB Diploma Class in 2013

* First class was in 2011 and there were 2 candidates, 1 of which earned the diploma.

Pasco County
Gulf High School, New Port Richey:   31

Land O’ Lakes High School, Land O’ Lakes:   31

Pinellas County
Clearwater Central Catholic High School, Clearwater:   31
Palm Harbour University High School, Palm Harbour:   33

St. Petersburg High School, St. Petersburg:   30

Polk County
Haines City High School, Haines City:   29

IB School at Bartow High School, Bartow:   29

Port St Lucie County

Port St Lucie High School, Port St Lucie:   23

Sarasota County

Riverview High School, Sarasota:   29

Seminole County

Seminole High School, Sanford:   31

St. Johns County
Allen D Nease High School, Ponte Vedra:   30

Pedro Menendez High School, St. Augustine:   First IB Diploma Class in 2011

St. Lucie County

Lincoln Park Academy, Fort Pierce:   28

Volusia County
Deland High School, Deland:   29

Spruce Creek High School, Port Orange:   31

Florida IB Diploma schools (not including Jones, Evans, or Carrollwood which would probably bring the average down) have an average IB Diploma score of 29 - above the US mean of 27.5 but below the world mean score of 30.7.  In England, there are 210 IB diploma schools, of which 20 (nearly 10%) have a mean score of 34 or higher. If this statistic is applied to Florida IB Diploma schools, then there should be 7 schools that have a mean of 34 or higher. There aren’t.  There are two (and one school had only one graduate) and a third school was very close with a mean score of 33.

Finally, a last word on interpretation of mean scores.  The high mean score may not mean a school is the top performer because a variety of other factors have to be considered. The number of years the program has been operating, the number of candidates, the pass rate, and the mean score all have to be considered.

Boca Prep may seem like the top performer with a mean score of 37 but that mean score is the score of the one student who passed. The class of 2011 was also the first graduating IB Diploma class for Boca Prep. Two schools – one public (Palm Harbour University High School) and one private (Gulliver) – stand out. Palm Harbour University High School in Pinellas County has offered the IB diploma program since 1995 and had a 95% pass rate (more than 60 graduates annually) with a mean score of 33 in 2011. Gulliver has offered the IB diploma since 1996 and reported a mean score of 34 in 2011.

My decision to publish the above information is twofold:  (1) the public has the right to know performance mean scores at public schools; and (2) no other parent should have to send up to eight e-mails to a public school, make numerous phone calls, leave messages, and have to explain themselves to get information that should be readily provided. Transparency at the public school level needs to be fostered by the community. Educating parents on the program: what the IB entails, how the scoring works, and how well the students and schools are performing with pass rates and mean scores, should be a priority.
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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jen O
    May 1 2012

    All of your hard work and information is much appreciated! It’s been impossible to find out about Florida’s IB schools concisely and clearly, until we found your post.

  2. May 1 2012

    Thanks for the feedback and I’m glad you found the post. I,too found information very difficult to obtain from high schools but knew I was entitled to the information. Parents are entitled to the score information (just as they are entitled to the SAT, FCAT, ACT information) and the schools have the information – they just don’t want to provide the mean scores and pass rates because they are generally low. I wrote the post to empower parents so they can confidently ask the questions and get the information they need to make decisions on their child’s education.

  3. L Hester
    Oct 10 2012

    Very helpful. We are considering a move to Florida, and you have saved me untold hours of work. Thanks!

  4. aedpad
    Oct 10 2012

    I’m happy that I could help. Hopefully one day soon, the public IB high schools will readily provide this information to parents.

  5. Rutgersgal
    Jan 27 2013

    Thank you so very much for providing this detail and insight to the IB Program. I live in Bay County, FL. Five high schools offer advanced academic programs (AP, AICE); eligible students may choose to attend our son’s parochial school on Friday to recruit our 8th grade students. The IB Coordinator and her students were the most impressive. Your hard work has informed our final decision…and we will rest much easier. Thank you!! (Relieved to see that Rutherford High School seems to be doing well, comparatively.)

  6. Jan 27 2013

    I’m very happy the information helps – took countless hours to put together and will hopefully help other parents. The IB is an impressive program and will only get stronger in the US as the program advances into the middle and primary schools which will better prepare the students in the future.

    However, the IB Coordinators in each public school need to be more forthcoming by doing three things: inform parents, release the information (i.e. mean scores, pass rates, etc), and explain how it differs from a regular curriculum. Every parent is entitled to this information.

    Ask the IB Coordinator if you can speak to parents of students that went through their IB program as these parents are a great resource. If the IB Coordinator won’t provide names, use your network of friends and parents to find them. I found many parents that told me the program was impressive but they wish they knew more before sending their child through the program as it’s not a one-size fits all program when it comes to scores and college admission.

  7. mivacko
    Jan 30 2013

    Thanks for supplying all of this information… indeed, most useful for me as a parent planning to move from Brussels, Belgium back to the states, and Florida in particular.
    Can you tell me the difference between AP programs and IB programs? I’m considering Dr Phillips HS for my daughter, but they do not have the IB at this time.

  8. Jan 30 2013

    I’m happy the information was useful.

    The difference between the AP and IB is:
    1. AP applies to a single year-long course. For example, the course “European History” may be offered but there may also be a “European History AP” course offered which is more challenging and culminates in an exam at the end of the year in which a score of 0-5 is obtainable, with 5 being a perfect score. 4′s and 5′s are good scores which many colleges recognize and will give credit for.

    2. The IB is a 2-year program. I did a several posts to help readers understand what the IB is whose links are:

    http://itsassimpleasthat.com/2011/11/02/understanding-the-international-baccalaureate-ib-program/

    http://itsassimpleasthat.com/2011/11/08/the-ib-diploma-school-asking-the-right-questions/

    Whatever high school you look at, ask what courses are offered at the AP level. Dr. Phillips, I believe is in the Orlando area and does not offer the IB program but does offer many AP courses – here is the link:

    https://www.ocps.net/lc/southwest/hdp/AC/programs/Pages/ap.aspx

    If you look at high schools that offer the 2-year IB program (junior and senior year), ask for a list of courses offered at the standard and at the high level since students must take courses at both levels. You want to make sure the courses offered at the high level are those courses your high school student is interested in.

    I hope that helps clarify the differences.

  9. Mjhaveri
    Feb 5 2013

    Dear Aedpad, thank you for your hard work and publishing this info. As the parent of our first child we are trying to navigate thru the IB and AP system and we all want our children to get the best education possible. Kudos to your leadership and kindness to share this. Thank you.

  10. Feb 5 2013

    Thank you for your note and I am very happy the information is helpful to you. As you said – we all want our children to get the best education possible – but we can only do this if parents are given the information they need to make the right decision for their child.

  11. mivacko
    Feb 13 2013

    I am heading to Orlando on Feb 18th, and will be visiting schools partially based on the information from this blog… truly appreciate the input from all !

  12. Feb 13 2013

    Hi..I’m happy to help. You should be able to get 2012 results from most of the schools because these scores were reported to the schools last summer. Good luck!

  13. Donna Boyd
    Mar 21 2013

    Great info! Do you have any info about the AICE compared to IB & AP?

  14. Mar 21 2013

    I haven’t done any research on the AICE but do know the AICE is only taught in English and has been around since the mid-1990′s.

    If you want more information on the IB and also how it compares to the AP, here are two links below that you may want to read. The bottom line is that the AP is not a diploma program; the AP is a one course designation (in many subject areas) in which the student takes the AP exam at the end of the one year course. The AP exam score is 1-5, with 5 the best with most students trying to get a 4 or a 5. A student that takes AP courses throughout high school will earn a high school diploma. I hope that helps. Here are the links:

    http://itsassimpleasthat.com/2011/11/02/understanding-the-international-baccalaureate-ib-program/

    http://itsassimpleasthat.com/2011/11/08/the-ib-diploma-school-asking-the-right-questions/

  15. a.t.
    May 16 2013

    Hi,thanks for the Informations. How do you see the IB compare to a German Abitur ?
    Not sure what is better for our son worldwide.

  16. May 16 2013

    I don’t know how the German Abitur compares to the IB. If you want more information about the specifics of the IB (as opposed to the mean scores in Florida high schools), go to these links:

    http://itsassimpleasthat.com/2011/11/08/the-ib-diploma-school-asking-the-right-questions/

    http://itsassimpleasthat.com/2011/11/02/understanding-the-international-baccalaureate-ib-program/

    Hope that helps.

  17. Nov 21 2013

    Thank you for your post. This was the most helpful article I have read regarding IB prgorams in Florida.

  18. Nov 21 2013

    Thanks…so happy you found it helpful.

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