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How International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Programs Compare

When considering how to offer advanced coursework to high school students that could earn them college credit, schools often turn to the College Board’s Advanced Placement program.

However, the presence of college-credit earning International Baccalaureate programs has also grown over the years across the United States.

Educators working in IB programs see a lot of benefits for students’ academic success, and they feel the programming allows them opportunities to engage in dialogue with students on complex topics and themes even in states such as Florida where laws now limit instruction on topics of race and gender. The state drew national attention last year for banning a pilot AP African American Studies course and sparking confusion over whether schools could offer AP Psychology for its topics on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Though AP courses and courses within the IB diploma program—designed for high school juniors and seniors—share benefits, in terms of preparing students for college-level work and saving them time and money by gaining college credits before high school graduation, there are some key differences educators should know in how these programs operate.

For instance, schools can pick and choose individual AP courses to offer students. That can mean a school can offer only one or several AP courses at a time, provided they go through an audit process with the College Board to ensure teachers abide by AP course curricular and resource requirements, according to the nonprofit.

The IB organization, also a private nonprofit, doesn’t offer a suite of individual courses. Instead, it offers four programs based on student age ranges. The most wellknown in the United States are the diploma program and the career-related program for high school students. These programs have core courses as well as options for subject-area courses schools can choose from. Unlike with AP, IB courses are less prescriptive when it comes to teachers setting curriculum and syllabi.

Here are more points of comparison between IB and AP:

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