"IB" stands for "International Baccalaureate" and is the abbreviation for the non-profit educational foundation serving students aged 3 to 19. Founded in 1968 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, IB has grown immensely over the past half-century. In the United States, the first IB school was established in 1971. Now there are 606 schools offering the Primary Years Programme, 708 schools offering the Middle Years Programme, and 961 schools offering the Diploma Programme. The relatively new Career-Related Programme is offered by 98 schools around the country.
As of July 2018, there are 37 schools in Illinois teaching the IB 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.
End-of-year exams are given in May or November, depending on hemisphere. 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.