International Baccalaureate® Programme

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Programme aims to do more than other curricula by developing inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. We strive to develop students who will build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect.


  • encourages students of all ages to think critically and challenge assumptions
  • develops independently of government and national systems, incorporating quality practice from research and our global community
  • encourages students of all ages to consider both local and global contexts
  • develops multilingual students.

What is IB?

The International Baccalaureate® Programme is an internationally consistent, extensively developed global education program held in high regard by colleges and universities all over the world. The IB is known for its rigor and explicit emphasis on creativity, synthesis, critical thinking and deep understanding.

In a collection of essays by Richard Dawkins entitled Science in the Soul, the author reflects on his excellent early education. He recalls teachers who instilled a sense of wonder about the world and enthusiasm for learning and set him on a path to academic and professional excellence. Dawkins learned from teachers who believed that “what matters is not the facts but how you discover and think about them: education in the true sense, very different from today’s assessment-mad exam culture.” This quote could be used to describe the central approach of the IB, and, if you continue reading on this site, you will discover it also expresses the essence of what teachers at Cheshire Academy love about the IB.

What is the difference between AP and IB?

It is well known that students aspiring to enroll in competitive colleges and universities focus on taking a large number of advanced placement (AP) courses in high school, even as many colleges limit the amount of credit they are willing to give for high grades.

The AP trend has grown steadily in the US since the 1960s, the same time period when the international diplomatic community initiated the International Baccalaureate® Programme (IB). The IB is growing in the United States and all around the world. It is highly established and very well known all over Europe. While both programs offer rigorous courses, there are distinct and important differences between the AP and IB.

There is a consistent theme in all IB courses: a careful and explicit focus on critical thinking and problem solving. Students learn adaptable critical thinking skills and are asked to apply them creatively, and teachers are encouraged to adopt best practices consistent with emerging brain science and modern educational research. There is decreased emphasis on “coverage” as that has normally been understood in high school education. The injunction to teach “critical thinking skills” has been much repeated in the educational world over the last 30 years; we think the IB Program contains a sophisticated and effective focus on this challenge. All students in the Diploma Programme must take three High Level (HL) courses and three Standard Level (SL) courses. The primary distinction between all HL and SL courses is the volume of work; in all other ways, they are the same.

When and where did it start?

The IB program was initiated by the international diplomatic community in the 1960s and has grown consistently in all ways since then. The founders had a clear agenda: to create a consistent, rigorous program that would allow fluid student movement around the world and help promote international understanding and goodwill.

Is it for everyone?

Nearly all of the Academy’s juniors and seniors take one or more IB courses, which include internal assessments guided by detailed rubrics and sitting for an externally graded exam at the end of the course. The top level of the program is the IB Diploma Programme. This elective, two-year program is demanding. A candidate must take three high-level courses, three standard-level courses, and the Theory of Knowledge course.

The student must enroll in a second language. We offer French, Spanish and Mandarin. In addition, a candidate must write an extended essay on a self-chosen topic and do an extended community service project. Along with the course exams, a major essay in Theory of Knowledge and the extended essay are evaluated externally. We strongly encourage our most ambitious students to pursue the “Diploma Programme.” Our general experience is that a “good” student with developed time management skills who is willing to work hard can thrive in this program, and a gifted student can find the level of challenge they need. We enter careful discussion with any new family about what is best for their student.