On February 11, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) announced to schools that it will not hold a portion of the May 2021 International Baccalaureate (IB) exams. As long as students complete their other Internal and External Assessments, and the IB Diploma will still be awarded. There will be no indication on students’ transcripts that they did not partake in the May exams.
Berkeley High School (BHS) had the option to hold tests, but every test would have had to be completed in-person on the campus, as the IBO did not create an online testing system. Hosting an in-person test wouldn’t have been an issue for IB tests, given their low student enrollment. However, BHS didn’t have the resources to safely hold the exams that needed to be completed by hundreds of students, and therefore had to cancel them altogether. BHS is planning on holding Advanced Placement (AP) language and music theory exams in person because of the necessity and smaller number of participants, but will host all other AP exams online.
The Internal and External Assessments will be weighted as they were during previous years, as a percentage of the overall grade differing from class to class, although the method of scoring has changed slightly. The Internal Assessments will be graded by the IBO rather than the teachers, and students will still receive a grade for their cancelled tests. Their scores will be calculated based on a teacher’s estimation of the score a student would’ve received based on the work they did over the course of the year, in moderation with past test grades.
“[The teachers will] negotiate [with the IBO], saying ‘we think students could do this well, based on the work they’ve done in previous years.’ … It basically ensures the status quo.” said Keldon Clegg, BHS’s IB Coordinator. “Like the IB says on its website … students should be prepared to see results like any other year.”
“It’s a little bit of relief that I don’t need to take two tests in addition to the other [AP] tests I’m taking this year,” said Isaac Salemme, a junior in Berkeley International High School (BIHS). “Since I don’t need to study for [the exams], I can just focus more on my [Internal Assessments].” Salemme, who is taking IB Computer Science, also noted that his teacher is spending more time covering topics that he thinks are useful in life, rather than quickly moving through the entire curriculum to prepare students for testing.
Sophie Chinn, another junior in BIHS, was also thankful that she didn’t have to take the tests in-person, and would’ve felt uncomfortable doing so given the state of the pandemic. However, Chinn wished the testing situation had been organized and communicated earlier, as she had already begun preparation for the IB tests in a few of her classes. “It was frustrating to have [the exams] cancelled after we’d already spent a lot of time working on it, when we could have been spending more time on the [Internal Assessments],” she said.
Though the future of the May IB exams is unclear, the IBO has decided to keep the shortened curriculum they presented at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year to ease students into their next year of learning, as many IB classes occur over the course of two years.
An updated list of the exams required for each IB class is accessible through the Berkeley Schools website here.