In recent times there has been a considerable amount of debate and discussion about International Baccalaureate (IB) students faring better than Secondary School Certificate (SSC) students. There are several pointers that go on to show how IB edges SSC.
From teaching pedagogy, application, classroom strength, opting subjects and review of syllabus there is a huge difference between the two. An IB Programme is inquiry based, which means that the content is focussed on how to learn. It also focuses on the in-depth understanding of the subjects and practicality in application of these topics outside of school. State boards focus more on the recall of the subject, which means that success is based on effectively reproducing the select subject’s content during exams.
The unique difference in the teaching pedagogy is a clear reflection of the child’s intensely intricate development. While SSC students have teaching that is centred on recall, IB students are exposed to a more intensive practical application of this knowledge. The latter teaching approach is more aligned with the current milieu, as interactive spaces are currently trending. Questioning is encouraged in the classroom and student talk time is always more than teacher talk time in an IB Classroom. This approach fosters student curiosity and helps develop skills that will enable these young learners to solve the problems of tomorrow. By applying the knowledge learnt in the classroom, students have the opportunity to translate theoretical information to fit a practical scenario.
Assessment in an IB classroom is not only the summative kind, but includes a range of formative tasks. Further, besides the regular teacher assessment, students also have opportunities for self and peer assessment. Focus in an assessment is less about recall of information and more on understanding of content and application of the same to different contexts. Thus, the inquiry approach and evaluation followed in an IB classroom, allows students to become more responsible for their own learning and helps them make a smooth transition to institutes of higher learning.
Additionally the syllabi across boards like SSC, IGCSE and CBSE are standard and formulated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). With syllabi and teaching capabilities similar across the boards, another point of difference is the classroom strength. SSC students are accustomed to a large classroom capacity averaging 40-70 students. However, this differs for IB students as the maximum classroom strength is 20-25 students. IB schools recognise that smaller class strength helps drive additional focus on the oneto- one ratio and other elements that enhance learning. When the class is more student-oriented rather than teacher centric, many more expressive and significant engagements are possible.
To add to this, international boards additionally offer students a chance at choosing the levels that a subject can be studied in. For example, a child, who is weak in a core academic subject that is compulsory to study, can opt for the basic level in that particular subject. In this way, IB schools have programmes that are very flexible and suitable for a host of students, even those with learning needs. To cater to a unique teaching pedagogy, teachers must regularly attend required training and multiple workshops to enhance their existing skillsets. The training received and knowledge gained will help the teachers to drive additional focus to the behavioural approach, while dealing with students in the classroom. Apart from ensuring that the right teaching methods are adopted for different students, the research-based training also guarantees a more nurturing approach when managing these undeveloped aspirants. The idea behind going beyond giving teachers content-driven training, is in the hope that students start viewing knowledge as a whole and integrated concept, rather than memorising the content of a few subjects.
This, however, is not the case for state schools. State schools focus on intensive learning that tests the parameters of a child’s recollection capabilities. This has risen to become a major area of concern.
So the difference is not attributed completely to the curriculum, which across boards is standard. With changing times IB has become more popular because it is relevant to the context that we are living in. With numerous disruptions happening in every sector, a variety of new companies are on the rise and there is an availability of new job opportunities requiring different skills-sets. The focus of this teaching is centred on subjects for jobs that existed 10 years ago. However, 10 years ago, the entire job scenario was different. With a constantly evolving space, the job market has changed considerably. Understanding this, schools have started changing their offerings and now include subjects that cater to the digital age as well. While SSC boards undergo a review every 10 years, international boards undergo a review every five years. Subjects like business or economics, whose concepts may not be applicable in five years, can be reviewed and changed to suit current scenarios and up-to-date concepts that can be applied. Therefore, every five years a new syllabus is introduced to the students and they remain informed about the current topics of interest as well that is in connection to their course. The notion of being brighter is definitely misleading. If given similar opportunities in terms of nurturing student curiosity and focusing evaluation on understanding rather than recall, students from state board schools can be as better than, if not outperform, their international school counterparts.