"IB" is the abbreviation for the educational program organized by the International Baccalaureate Organization for students aged 3 to 19. Founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland as a nonprofit educational foundation, IB has grown immensely over the past 48 years. In the United States, the first IB school was established in 1971. Now there are 533 schools offering the Primary Years Programme, 655 schools offering the Middle Years Programme, and 912 schools offering the Diploma Programme. As of March 2017, there are 3,104 schools in 147 countries offering the Diploma Programme.
The Diploma Programme is a pre-university course of studies which is designed as a comprehensive two-year curriculum, covering the last two years of secondary education. Students can choose to earn either a certificate (by studying fewer than six IB courses) or a diploma (by completing the full program with six IB courses plus the Extended Essay and the Theory of Knowledge). Both the IB courses and the IB examinations are given at two levels of study. Higher Level (HL) requires a minimum of 240 hours of instruction, whereas Standard Level (SL) covers a minimum of 150 instructional contact hours.
IB test scores range from a low of 1 to a high of 7. Each test score is a combination of grades earned for course work completed in the classroom, which is evaluated by the teacher, and grades earned on final exams, which are evaluated by external examiners. Illinois now accepts for credit test scores of 4, 5, 6, and 7 on all IB exams, whether Higher Level or Standard Level.