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For more than 50 years, the IB has equipped students with the skills, confidence and lifelong learning they need to thrive and make a difference in an ever-changing world. Through a powerful continuum of four student-centric programmes developed for learners aged 3-19, IB programmes can be implemented independently or in combination. IB Continuum They are underpinned by shared values and a shared emphasis on developing students who are lifelong learners and who are able to not only make sense of, but to make a positive impact on, our complex and interconnected world. Central to all four of its programmes are: What is an IB Education?

  1. International-mindedness
  2. The IB learner profile 
  3. A broad, balanced, conceptual, and connected curriculum 
  4. An approach to teaching and learning centered on inquiry and positive agency 

The DP is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education that prepares students, aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. It has been designed to address the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical well-being of students through subject teaching and the DP core. The DP has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities. 

 In order to implement any IB programme, schools must undergo an authorization process. The IB also offers a variety of professional development, certifications, and resources for its school community. Free resources are available for schools interested in learning more.

  • Academic Knowledge & Skills
  • Civic & Social Engagement
  • Cognitive Thinking Skills
  • Learning Strategies & Habits
  • Inquiry-Based Learning
  • Professional Development
  • Resource Toolkit

What Makes This Model Innovative?

Rigorous Learning
DP students study many subjects and their intersections and can take courses at advanced levels. The DP includes a demanding Theory of Knowledge course and research project, which are both externally validated.
Relevance
Learners are meant to engage their passions and interests by deciding what topics to engage in for deeper research, service learning, and more.
Customization
Learners make choices that dictate their educational programming, such as what courses to study and at which level.

Goals

While the learner profile underpins all IB programmes, the DP has a unique set of outcomes for learners at this developmental stage. Learner profile

Knowledge

Students have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge.

Balance

Students flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally, and ethically by participation in creativity, activity, and service alongside academic study.

International Mindedness

Students study at least two languages.

Ethical

Students explore the nature of knowledge through the programme’s unique Theory of Knowledge course.

Agency

Students research and act on their own passions and interests.

Rigor

Students excel in traditional academic subjects.

Experience

The Diploma Programme framework illustrates how the DP’s unique focus on young learners intersects with the overall approach of the IB. DP Framework Summary

Two main learner experiences—reflected in the middle layers of the framework—make up the DP: 

1. Subject groups

2. The DP core, comprised of:

  • Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) and 
  • The Extended Essay

In the DP, students study content from six subject groups:

Schools can choose which courses to offer within each subject group. Students will take some subjects at Higher Level (HL) and some at Standard Level (SL), although both are equivalent to honors level. HL and SL courses differ in scope but are measured according to the same grade descriptors, with students expected to demonstrate a greater body of knowledge, understanding, and skills after HL courses. 

Each student takes at least three (but not more than four) subjects at higher level, and the remaining at standard level. These choices often have implications for university acceptance and are made in collaboration with an academic counselor. SL subjects take up 150 teaching hours. HL comprises 240 teaching hours. The IB offers subject briefs with more in-depth information. Course selection guidance

With approval from the IB, schools may also offer other types of courses. Additional subjects

Through the DP core, students reflect on the nature of knowledge, complete independent research, and undertake a project that often involves community service. The three core elements are:

  • Theory of Knowledge Theory of Knowledge In this course, students become aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases—whether these biases are retained, revised, or rejected. As a thoughtful and purposeful inquiry into different ways of knowing, and into different kinds of knowledge, TOK is composed almost entirely of questions. The most central of these is “How do we know?”, while other questions include:
    • What counts as evidence for X?
    • How do we judge which is the best model of Y?
    • What does theory Z mean in the real world?
  • The Extended Essay Extended Essay  The extended essay is an independent piece of research, culminating with a 4,000-word paper. The extended essay provides:
    • Practical preparation for undergraduate research
    • An opportunity for students to investigate a topic of personal interest to them, which relates to one of the student’s six DP subjects, or takes the interdisciplinary approach of a World Studies extended essay.
  • Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) Studied throughout the DP, CAS involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies. CAS enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development by learning through experience and is an important counterbalance to the academic expectations of the DP. The three strands of CAS, which are often interwoven with particular activities, are characterized as follows:
    • Creativity – Arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
    • Activity – Physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the DP.
    • Service – An unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student. The rights, dignity, and autonomy of all those involved are respected.

Supporting Structures

While schools have some flexibility in ensuring the programme meets the needs of their local context, they must satisfy IB criteria for accreditation, assessment, and quality assurance, which are detailed below, and in more depth in the Programme standards and practices (see in Implementation section).

While schools have some flexibility around curriculum and assessment, there are some unifying approaches across all IB programmes.

The IB is committed to making sure that students meet and exceed local or national standards. With the implementation of any IB programme, schools are required to examine their curriculum carefully to ensure that there is alignment with local, state, and/or national standards. Despite the adaptability to context, there are some unifying themes in the approach to teaching and learning in the DP. The Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills are deliberate strategies, skills and attitudes that permeate the IB teaching and learning environment. These consist of five categories of interrelated skills and associated sub-skills that support students of all ages to become self-regulated learners: 

  • thinking skills 
  • research skills 
  • communication skills 
  • social skills 
  • self-management skills 

These interrelated skills aim to empower IB students of all ages to become self-regulated learners who know how to ask good questions, set effective goals, pursue their aspirations and have the determination to achieve them. 

 In accordance with all of the above, schools develop their own courses of study for each subject on offer and for Theory of Knowledge. The DP curriculum must be balanced so that students are provided with a reasonable choice of subjects at both the Standard and Higher Levels. 

 For most courses, written examinations at the end of the DP form the basis of the assessment. These examinations are highly objective and reliable. Externally assessed coursework, completed by students over an extended period under authenticated teacher supervision, forms part of the assessment for several program areas, including the Theory of Knowledge essay and the Extended Essay. In most subjects, in addition to regular formative assessment, students also complete in-school assessment tasks. These are either externally assessed or marked by teachers and then moderated by the IB. Read more about assessment here: DP assessment

The school community must support learners in realizing the IB learner profile.

While schools have the freedom to create a school culture that reflects the needs of their community, there are aspects that are essential to implementing the DP. Together, all stakeholders sustain a positive school culture by committing to continuous school improvement; well-being; and a safe and engaging environment that nurtures resilient, optimistic, and lifelong learners. 

IB World Schools seek to create an inclusive learning community that: 

  • lives peacefully together by engaging with different ways of knowing and being 
  • prioritizes people and their relationships 
  • assumes shared responsibility for learning, health and well-being. 

 These attributes foster internationally minded people who embody all attributes of the IB learner profile. 

Teachers must be trained in approaches to teaching and learning and collaborate to make connections between subjects.

All DP teachers must undertake at least one professional development workshop in the IB’s approaches to teaching and learning from certified IB workshop leaders. This is because the same six approaches to teaching  and learning underpin teaching in all IB programmes:

  • Based on inquiry
  • Focused on conceptual understanding
  • Developed in local and global contexts 
  • Focused on effective teamwork and collaboration 
  • Designed to remove barriers to learning for all students 
  • Informed by formative and summative assessment

The approaches are deliberately broad and designed to give teachers the flexibility to choose specific strategies to employ that best reflect their own particular contexts and the needs of their students.

Under the DP, collaborative planning and reflection must explore connections and relations between subjects and reinforce knowledge, understanding, and skills shared by the different disciplines. This includes the integration of TOK into each subject.

The schedule must allow for the recommended number of hours for DP courses and the DP core.

The school schedule must provide for the recommended hours for each standard and higher level subject—Standard Level subjects take up 150 teaching hours and Higher Level take up 240 teaching hours. The schedule must also provide for the development of the TOK course over two years as well as the CAS component. 

The learning community must extend beyond school walls and include important relationships with universities. 

The IB learning community views the world as the broadest context for learning, where everyone involved in the life of the school is recognized as part of the learning process: students and their families, all school staff members, other important adults in the students’ lives and the community at large. 

An important piece of that is the relationship DP schools have with universities to support admissions and enrollment. Because the DP is different from a traditional high school diploma, DP schools collaborate with universities—and even with local governments—to support student’s post-secondary transitions. University admission

Implementation of the IB requires that learning spaces be informed by pedagogy.

Learning environments are made up of multiple learning spaces: built and natural, outdoor and indoor, formal and informal. Spaces should inspire creativity, innovation, and collaboration; support and respond to emerging inquiries; and help students develop and demonstrate the attributes of the learner profile. Students should be involved in the setting up and ongoing maintenance of their learning spaces. This supports greater ownership and influence over their learning. In the DP, this includes specialized spaces, such as studios and laboratories for arts and science courses.

Technology should be leveraged to build strong citizens and deepen conceptual understanding.

Technology, the Learner Profile, and Approaches to Learning work together to develop internationally minded digital citizens able to exercise academic integrity and practice safe and ethical behaviors. Students must understand the functionality of tools, how to operate tools and resources, and how technology can be used to problem-solve, create new opportunities, and communicate. Technology should enable unique opportunities for the learning community to co-construct knowledge and develop conceptual understandings with members and experts within and outside the school community. 

Additionally, the IB has worked closely with Pamoja Education over many years to ensure that IB schools have access to a broad range of individual DP courses online. DP online

Operations must support strong and equitable implementation of the DP.

All students and families in a school building should be given access to the DP and supported to reach their full potential.

Some schools opt to offer DP SL and HL courses to all students, while offering enrollment in the full DP to interested students—though all students should be encouraged and enabled to enroll in the latter. In addition to subject coursework, resources must be allocated to enable the implementation of the CAS (including a coordinator) as well as the TOK course. The DP cannot be implemented piecemeal. 

The IB is a permitted use of Title I, II, and IV funding and federal Perkins V fund, as well as federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. Using federal funds

A digital toolkit can be used for communications.

The IB offers a digital toolkit that provides authorized schools with a wide range of communications materials. Digital toolkit These can be used to present the IB and its programmes to stakeholders such as students, parents, teachers, and school boards, as well as universities and government bodies.

Both the IB and adopting schools must facilitate continuous improvement.

All DP curriculum content is reviewed on a seven-year teaching cycle to ensure that each is fit for purpose in a changing world and incorporates the latest educational research and lessons learned from a thorough evaluation of the existing curriculum. The DP curriculum review is a collaborative process that aims to produce excellent, internationally minded, research-based curriculums and support material that enable students to develop the attributes of the learner profile and achieve the IB mission, thereby providing an excellent preparation for life in the 21st century. Transparency around updates can be found on the IB website. Latest curriculum updates

To maintain its status as an IB World School and to improve practice, it is up to schools to regularly review and follow all IB rules, regulations, and guidelines as well as implement and review systems and processes to improve the operation and sustainability of its IB program. All IB World Schools are required to participate in an ongoing process of review and development, ensuring the continued quality assurance of the programmes delivered.

While schools have some flexibility around curriculum and assessment, there are some unifying approaches across all IB programmes.

The IB is committed to making sure that students meet and exceed local or national standards. With the implementation of any IB programme, schools are required to examine their curriculum carefully to ensure that there is alignment with local, state, and/or national standards. Despite the adaptability to context, there are some unifying themes in the approach to teaching and learning in the DP. The Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills are deliberate strategies, skills and attitudes that permeate the IB teaching and learning environment. These consist of five categories of interrelated skills and associated sub-skills that support students of all ages to become self-regulated learners: 

  • thinking skills 
  • research skills 
  • communication skills 
  • social skills 
  • self-management skills 

These interrelated skills aim to empower IB students of all ages to become self-regulated learners who know how to ask good questions, set effective goals, pursue their aspirations and have the determination to achieve them. 

 In accordance with all of the above, schools develop their own courses of study for each subject on offer and for Theory of Knowledge. The DP curriculum must be balanced so that students are provided with a reasonable choice of subjects at both the Standard and Higher Levels. 

 For most courses, written examinations at the end of the DP form the basis of the assessment. These examinations are highly objective and reliable. Externally assessed coursework, completed by students over an extended period under authenticated teacher supervision, forms part of the assessment for several program areas, including the Theory of Knowledge essay and the Extended Essay. In most subjects, in addition to regular formative assessment, students also complete in-school assessment tasks. These are either externally assessed or marked by teachers and then moderated by the IB. Read more about assessment here: DP assessment

The school community must support learners in realizing the IB learner profile.

While schools have the freedom to create a school culture that reflects the needs of their community, there are aspects that are essential to implementing the DP. Together, all stakeholders sustain a positive school culture by committing to continuous school improvement; well-being; and a safe and engaging environment that nurtures resilient, optimistic, and lifelong learners. 

IB World Schools seek to create an inclusive learning community that: 

  • lives peacefully together by engaging with different ways of knowing and being 
  • prioritizes people and their relationships 
  • assumes shared responsibility for learning, health and well-being. 

 These attributes foster internationally minded people who embody all attributes of the IB learner profile. 

Teachers must be trained in approaches to teaching and learning and collaborate to make connections between subjects.

All DP teachers must undertake at least one professional development workshop in the IB’s approaches to teaching and learning from certified IB workshop leaders. This is because the same six approaches to teaching  and learning underpin teaching in all IB programmes:

  • Based on inquiry
  • Focused on conceptual understanding
  • Developed in local and global contexts 
  • Focused on effective teamwork and collaboration 
  • Designed to remove barriers to learning for all students 
  • Informed by formative and summative assessment

The approaches are deliberately broad and designed to give teachers the flexibility to choose specific strategies to employ that best reflect their own particular contexts and the needs of their students.

Under the DP, collaborative planning and reflection must explore connections and relations between subjects and reinforce knowledge, understanding, and skills shared by the different disciplines. This includes the integration of TOK into each subject.

The schedule must allow for the recommended number of hours for DP courses and the DP core.

The school schedule must provide for the recommended hours for each standard and higher level subject—Standard Level subjects take up 150 teaching hours and Higher Level take up 240 teaching hours. The schedule must also provide for the development of the TOK course over two years as well as the CAS component. 

The learning community must extend beyond school walls and include important relationships with universities. 

The IB learning community views the world as the broadest context for learning, where everyone involved in the life of the school is recognized as part of the learning process: students and their families, all school staff members, other important adults in the students’ lives and the community at large. 

An important piece of that is the relationship DP schools have with universities to support admissions and enrollment. Because the DP is different from a traditional high school diploma, DP schools collaborate with universities—and even with local governments—to support student’s post-secondary transitions. University admission

Implementation of the IB requires that learning spaces be informed by pedagogy.

Learning environments are made up of multiple learning spaces: built and natural, outdoor and indoor, formal and informal. Spaces should inspire creativity, innovation, and collaboration; support and respond to emerging inquiries; and help students develop and demonstrate the attributes of the learner profile. Students should be involved in the setting up and ongoing maintenance of their learning spaces. This supports greater ownership and influence over their learning. In the DP, this includes specialized spaces, such as studios and laboratories for arts and science courses.

Technology should be leveraged to build strong citizens and deepen conceptual understanding.

Technology, the Learner Profile, and Approaches to Learning work together to develop internationally minded digital citizens able to exercise academic integrity and practice safe and ethical behaviors. Students must understand the functionality of tools, how to operate tools and resources, and how technology can be used to problem-solve, create new opportunities, and communicate. Technology should enable unique opportunities for the learning community to co-construct knowledge and develop conceptual understandings with members and experts within and outside the school community. 

Additionally, the IB has worked closely with Pamoja Education over many years to ensure that IB schools have access to a broad range of individual DP courses online. DP online

Operations must support strong and equitable implementation of the DP.

All students and families in a school building should be given access to the DP and supported to reach their full potential.

Some schools opt to offer DP SL and HL courses to all students, while offering enrollment in the full DP to interested students—though all students should be encouraged and enabled to enroll in the latter. In addition to subject coursework, resources must be allocated to enable the implementation of the CAS (including a coordinator) as well as the TOK course. The DP cannot be implemented piecemeal. 

The IB is a permitted use of Title I, II, and IV funding and federal Perkins V fund, as well as federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. Using federal funds

A digital toolkit can be used for communications.

The IB offers a digital toolkit that provides authorized schools with a wide range of communications materials. Digital toolkit These can be used to present the IB and its programmes to stakeholders such as students, parents, teachers, and school boards, as well as universities and government bodies.

Both the IB and adopting schools must facilitate continuous improvement.

All DP curriculum content is reviewed on a seven-year teaching cycle to ensure that each is fit for purpose in a changing world and incorporates the latest educational research and lessons learned from a thorough evaluation of the existing curriculum. The DP curriculum review is a collaborative process that aims to produce excellent, internationally minded, research-based curriculums and support material that enable students to develop the attributes of the learner profile and achieve the IB mission, thereby providing an excellent preparation for life in the 21st century. Transparency around updates can be found on the IB website. Latest curriculum updates

To maintain its status as an IB World School and to improve practice, it is up to schools to regularly review and follow all IB rules, regulations, and guidelines as well as implement and review systems and processes to improve the operation and sustainability of its IB program. All IB World Schools are required to participate in an ongoing process of review and development, ensuring the continued quality assurance of the programmes delivered.

Supports Offered

All schools offering the DP must first participate in the candidacy and authorization process. The IB works with school communities on this journey toward creating a better world through education. IB journey The IB supports schools in obtaining and sustaining the status of IB World School in a few ways. While there are costs associated, the program can be funded using a variety of federal funds. Funding the IB toolkit

All IB World Schools use the Guide to Authorization and the Programme standards and practices (PSP) framework to ensure quality and fidelity implementation of each IB programme. Guide to Authorization Programme standards and practices (PSP) The IB offers short, interactive PD courses to help schools gain insight into the PSP and how it is used to implement, grow, and develop IB programmes. PSP learning resources

IB World School Authorization Process
Cost Associated, Funding Available

During the authorization process, the IB supports schools in building the understanding and organizational structures needed to implement the DP as well as other IB programmes. Authorization support Authorization resource library If you are interested in implementing the DP, please submit the online form to receive more information about how to become an IB World School. 

Professional Development
Cost Associated, Funding Available

The IB provides a range of professional development that supports educators and collaborative learning communities. The professional development opportunities include face-to-face and online workshops, webinars, blended learning, and e-learning resources. These opportunities are open to both authorized schools and candidate schools. PD Offerings Chart

IB Educator and Leadership Certificates (IBEC)
Cost Associated, Funding Available

The IB educator and leadership certificates help educators develop in many areas that benefit teaching and learning and deepen understanding of inquiry, research and project-based learning, among other things. IBEC FAQ

DP resources
Free

Interactive “nano” resources and webinars are offered at no cost for educators wanting to deepen their understanding of the DP approach, including subject groups, assessment, TOK, and more.

Reach

1921
IB Schools in the US
91%
Urban
65%
FRL
962
US Schools Offering DP

Impact

The IB Global Research department collaborates with universities and independent research institutions worldwide to produce rigorous studies examining the impact and outcomes of the IB’s four programmes. Numerous studies have shown that there are many benefits to choosing the DP over other 16-19 curricula in the United States.

Enrollment in the DP has been shown to increase postsecondary outcomes. Global research findings

  • A large-scale study of public schools in an urban US district indicated that enrollment in the DP increases the probability that students will graduate from high school and enroll in college.

  • DP students in the US have higher rates of university enrollment and graduation at four-year institutions compared to the national average.

  • DP graduates in Chicago public schools were significantly more likely to enroll in college, to enroll in selective colleges, to stay enrolled, and to perform better than similar non-DP graduates.

Enrollment in the DP has been shown to have a positive impact on students’ preparedness for the 21st century.

  • DP students are better able than their peers to cope with demanding workloads, manage their time, and meet the expectations placed on them. College readiness research study
  • An analysis of DP students in Canada, the UK, and the US found that the DP’s Extended Essay improves students’ approach to learning in higher education. Benefits of the Extended Essay

The DP has had a similar positive impact on postsecondary outcomes for students enrolled in Title 1 schools. DP Title 1 Research Brief

  • DP students from Title I schools, including students from low-income families, enrolled in college at much higher rates than national averages. 
  • DP students from Title I schools enrolled in college at the same rate as DP students from US public schools generally.

Findings with a more global focus can be found here: Global Facts and Figures Key findings Key findings on the impact of the DP core

Finally, there are many stories of impact coming directly from school communities. DP in Chicago Public Schools

Contact

Outreach Department