This past Spring, Williamsburg Christian Academy, received approval for the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Organization’s Diploma Program. “WCA’s approval for the Diploma Program makes our ministry the first evangelical Christian Diploma Program of its kind in the United States,” commented Head of School Johnny Graham. “Additionally, WCA is on pace in early 2022 to become the first evangelical Christian K-12 IB continuum school in the United States with Primary Years, Middle Years, and Diploma Programs.” Although there exist many IB programs in Christian education worldwide, WCA would be the first continuum school here in America. The International Baccalaureate platform combines rigorous college preparation, self-management and communication skills, and best pedagogical practices where young people are challenged to be reflective inquirers, knowledgeable thinkers, and principled leaders. Graham added, “We praise the Lord for blessing us with a talented faculty and the provisions to deliver such a dynamic program to our students.”
The Diploma Program (DP), which is elected by students in their sophomore year, is completed over the student’s junior and senior years. According to the IB website, the Diploma program ‘aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally, and ethically.’ Its curriculum is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising theory of knowledge (TOK), creativity, activity, service (CAS), and the extended essay. Through the Diploma Program (DP) core, students reflect on the nature of knowledge, complete independent research, and undertake a project that often involves community service.
Established in 1968, the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Program (DP) was the first program offered by the IB and is taught to students aged 16-19. The DP was started to provide students with a balanced education, facilitate geographic and cultural mobility, and promote international understanding. It was created by teachers at the International School of Geneva, with assistance from several other international schools. Since then, innovative and committed teachers and examiners from around the world have played a significant role in the development of the program.
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) programs aim to do more than other curricula. Their four programs develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. The IB gives students distinct advantages by building their critical thinking skills, nurturing their curiosity, and their ability to solve complex problems. The IB’s programs are different from other curricula because they encourage students of all ages to think critically and challenge assumptions, develop independently of government and national systems, encourage students of all ages to consider both local and global contexts, and develop multilingual students. In addition, the IB’s Program Continuum adds the Primary Years Program (PYP) for children from kindergarten to fifth grade, and the Middle Years Program (MYP) for students grades 6 through sophomore year. The continuum establishes a consistent and uniform curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade, a more organized and fluid structure where skills are learned and then built upon year after year. WCA is targeting next year for approval in the PYP and MYP to make them an IB Continuum school.
The IB and Advanced Placement courses are comparable in terms of rigor. Advanced Placement courses are standalone, while the IB courses are part of a contiguous structure designed for interrelation and interaction between courses. Similar to Advanced Placement, IB courses have end-of-year exams, which if scored well upon, can provide advanced credit at some colleges depending on major. In the DP, however, courses are broken into Standard-Level (SL) and High-Level (HL). The key difference in a High-Level course is that it is taught over the full two years of the student’s Diploma Program.
Over 5,000 schools worldwide deliver IB programs, and the Diploma Program, offered by 3,421 schools in 157 different countries worldwide, is recognized and respected by the world’s leading universities. Evidence suggests that not only do higher rates of DP students go on to university and higher education study than non-IB students, but graduates of the program can also expect higher college admissions acceptance rates as well. A study conducted by Crimson Education, an admissions support company, indicated that students successfully completing the IB saw dramatically higher admissions rates to major and Ivy League colleges than students from traditional high school curriculums. For example, typical students applying to Stanford had an average rate of acceptance of 4.25%, while IB Diploma Program graduates saw that rate increase to 17%. In the Ivy League, students, on the whole, were accepted to Cornell University at a rate of 14.1%, but that percentage skyrocketed to 47% for IB Diploma program graduates. There can also be substantial benefits for students who perform well on IB subject exams. Students with certain levels of aggregate scores are admitted as sophomores for all intents and purposes to some colleges and universities (such as McGill University in Toronto), saving them an entire year of college tuition.
How to Join WCA’s Diploma Program
Williamsburg Christian Academy is still taking enrollments for rising juniors who wish to enter the school’s Diploma Program. Families interested in learning more about the IB for their child now, or progressing into future years, should reach out to their admissions department at firstname.lastname@example.org. They may also call 757-220-1978.