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Extra Credit: AP Vs. IB

Dear Extra Credit:

have been following the Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate debate. I have a grandson who is a junior in an IB program in Northern Virginia. I have had the honor of reading several of the papers he was required to write, including one in Spanish. If he takes nothing away from the IB program in the form of college credits (which he thoroughly deserves), he will be able to write a paper in proper form, well organized and impressive in the depth of the subject matter, and he will have learned valuable time-management skills. He seems to be able to get 1,500-word papers written on time, hold down a small job, be involved in some school activities, be a leader in his youth group and still have time to smell the roses. The IB classes seem to provide a breadth of learning, whereas my understanding of AP classes is that each one creates a narrow focus of learning to ace the test without a view of how each subject fits into a bigger picture.

Linda S. Spevack


You are right about IB, but wrong about AP. Students also have to become thoughtful, big-picture writers if they want to do well on the three-hour AP exams.

--Jay Mathews

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By Washington Post Editors  | April 16, 2009; 2:00 AM ET
Categories:  Extra Credit  | Tags:  AP, IB  
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I must disagree with Jay Mathews. I've taught IB history for 15 years, and prior to that attended several AP training sessions, though I never taught an AP course. The IB history exam includes a research paper, a document-based exam and five essays on various topics. The AP exam has no research requirement and has significant multiple-choice content. AP classes can vary by teacher. The IB prescribes a curriculum framework for teachers to follow. I think that's a better way to go in districts (like mine) that lack a comprehensive and structured AP program throughout the content areas.

Posted by: wrogers2 | April 22, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

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