IB Testing Canceled Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Seniors to earn IB diplomas without completing May exams, juniors may take them in November


Wikipedia Commons

The IB Diploma Programme has been offered to Shaker juniors and seniors since 2010. Ninety-six juniors and seniors are currently enrolled.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision to cancel International Baccalaureate testing worldwide was confirmed today.

“They are making the best decision in an unprecedented, terrible situation,” Dr. John Moore, district IB Coordinator said. 

Students can still receive the IB diploma, but it will be based heavily on internal assessments done in class rather than on performance on an external IB exam. According to the IB website, students will receive their diploma or course certificate “based on student’s coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes.” A course certificate is awarded when an IB class is completed.

The Diploma Programme considers more than just final exams for a students final grade. According to Moore,“between 20-25 percent of a student’s final achievement score in each class is from work that they’ve actually done with the teacher over the course of that class or over the two years of the program.”

Senior DP student Jordan Green said he is disappointed by the decision. “Obviously it sucks, but the whole point of this IB diploma program is way more than just taking tests,” said Green. 

“I don’t like the idea of spending so much time thinking about something and devote time to it, only for it to disappear,” junior DP student Dalton Mosley said.

Normally, 75-80 percent of a student’s final IB achievement score depends on final IB exams. Additional diploma requirements include the Extended Essay score, Theory of Knowledge performance, successful completion of Creativity, Activity and Service, and teachers’ predicted grades. TOK is a mandatory course for DP students based on inquiry and questioning, while CAS are activities to be completed alongside structured learning. Predicted grades are based on how the teacher believes a student will do in a specific course based on their work throughout the year and IB standards. 

Senior DP student Sophia Stein said that canceling the exams will relieve her of stress. “I was kind of concerned about how I would be able to learn new content that I would need for the exam,” she said. “But at the same time, there is a lot of confusion about college credit, how that’s going to work going forward into the next school year and whether my scores that are determined by IB right now can be translated into college credit and how much colleges will value them.”

Since testing for seniors is no no longer an option this spring, Moore said, “the preferred method is going to let your coursework stand for itself, get those assessment scores and go from there.”

As for junior DP students, internal assessments could be the only factors this year contributing to their diploma credit. 

IB tests are given each May and November. Generally they are associated with different school sessions around the globe, but not always. “If a student chooses, they can defer from the May session and instead go with the southern hemisphere and test in November,” Moore said.

Moore recommends different testing options for one-year standard level courses and two-year higher level courses. 

For juniors whose classes end after this semester, Moore recommends letting internal assessment constitute their final scores. For classes that juniors will still be enrolled in next year, he said, students should take the November exam.

Seniors can also defer to the November administration, but they would have already graduated by the testing date.

Green said the decision will affect his feelings about the program.“I think the opportunity to get an IB diploma is so great, though I will admit it’s just not going to feel as complete — not having experienced the exact same IB round that everyone else and all my predecessors had,” he said.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that was first identified in December in Wuhan, China. It can spread between people who are within approximately six feet of each other through respiratory droplets produced when infected individuals cough or sneeze.

The IB program was founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland. Today’s announcement marks the first time the organization has canceled its exams. The IB Organization will send details and FAQs to schools by Friday.

Green said, “I’m still kind of processing it all. It’s just such a crazy time.” 

The Shakerite will continue to cover this story as it develops. Web Managing Editor Lauren Sheperd and Spotlight Reporter Vivian Bowling contributed reporting.

Comment using your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail account