The International Baccalaureate Organization’s Diploma Program was founded in 1968. It is a demanding pre-university course of study that leads to external examinations. It is designed for motivated secondary school students aged 16 to 19. The program has earned a reputation for rigorous assessment, giving IB diploma holders access to the world’s leading universities. The Diploma Program’s grading system is criterion-referenced, which means that each student’s performance is measured against well-defined levels of achievement. These are consistent from one examination session to the next and are applied equally to all schools. Visit the website www.ibo.org for more detailed information about the program.
The program has the strengths of a traditional and broad curriculum, but with three important additional features, shown at the centre of the hexagonal curriculum model.
Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
TOK is an interdisciplinary requirement intended to stimulate critical reflection on the knowledge and experience gained inside and outside the classroom. The course challenges students to question the bases of knowledge, to be aware of subjective and ideological biases and to develop the ability to analyze evidence that is expressed in rational argument. TOK is a key element in encouraging students to appreciate other cultural perspectives.
Creativity, action, service (CAS) (150 hours)
It is our goal to educate the whole person and foster responsible, tolerant citizens. The CAS program encourages students to share their energy and special talents with others. Students may, for example, participate in theatre or musical productions, sports and community service activities. Students should, through these activities, develop greater awareness of themselves, concern for others, and the ability to work cooperatively with other people. The CAS requirement is the outgrowth of the ASV PEP program which promotes community and service in the whole school.
Each student has the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest. The essay requirement acquaints diploma candidates with the kind of independent research and writing skills expected by universities. Students devote a total of about 40 hours of private study and writing time to the essay. It must be written in one of the IB subject areas. The essay may be written in English, Spanish or French.
The Six Academic Subjects
These are studied concurrently. Students are required to study both the humanities and the sciences. Diploma candidates must select one subject from each of the six groups. At least three and not more than four are taken at higher level (HL), the others at standard level (SL); HL courses represent a recommended minimum of 240 teaching hours, SL courses cover 150 hours. Students are thus able to explore some subjects in depth and others more broadly, a deliberate compromise between the early specialization of some national systems and the breadth found in others.
Group 1 - Language A1
ASV students study English A1, a comparative world literature course in which they develop strong written and oral skills, respect for the literary heritage of the English language, and an international perspective.
Group 2 – Second Language
ASV students normally study Spanish as their Group 2 language. Several options accommodate bilingual students with a very high level of fluency, genuine second language learners with previous experience learning the language, and beginners.
Group 3 - Individuals and Societies
Subjects included in this group at ASV are: economics and 20th century world history.
Group 4 – Experimental Sciences
The subjects available in group 4 at ASV are: biology, chemistry, and physics. Practical laboratory skills are developed and collaborative learning is encouraged through an interdisciplinary group project. Students develop an awareness of moral and ethical issues and a sense of social responsibility is fostered by examining local and global issues.
Group 5 – Mathematics and Computer Science
All candidates for a diploma are required to complete a mathematics course. We offer two different levels, mathematics HL and mathematical studies SL to accommodate the different abilities and levels of student interest. Both courses aim to deepen a student’s understanding of mathematics as a discipline and to promote confidence and facility in the use of mathematical language.
Group 6 – The Arts
Students at ASV may study visual arts which focuses on production by the student and exploration of a range of creative work in a global context.
Instead of a group 6 subject, a candidate may select an additional subject from groups 2 to 4.