Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

The Academic Impact of Enrollment in International Baccalaureate Diploma Programs: A Case Study of Chicago Public Schools

by Anna Rosefsky Saavedra - 2014

Background: In schools accredited as “IB World Schools” by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), teachers use IB curriculum and pedagogy to teach a range of courses that are intended to prepare IB-enrolled students for college. Over the past 18 years, the number of U.S. schools that implement IB programs has increased nearly tenfold, from 133 in 1994 to 1,390 in 2013. Despite the IB program’s rapid expansion, little is known about whether IB enrollment causally improves students’ academic outcomes, including their high school academic achievement, probability of high school graduation and/or subsequent probability of college enrollment.

Purpose: This study examines whether enrollment in the IB Diploma Program increases students’ academic achievement as measured by their composite ACT college admissions examination scores, probability of high school graduation, and probability of college enrollment, and whether the estimates differ by gender.

Setting, population, & data: This study uses data on the demographic characteristics, IB enrollment status, ACT scores, high school graduation status and college enrollment status of 20,422 students attending 13 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high schools from 2002-2008. Data sources include the CPS and the National Student Clearinghouse.

Research Design: The analytic strategy is to first assume students are selected into the IB Diploma Program based on their observed characteristics, and then to use a propensity score approach to estimate the impact of IB enrollment on three measures of students’ academic success. The second step, following Rosenbaum (2002), is to test the sensitivity of the estimates to different levels of selection bias.

Results: This study shows that IB enrollment increases students’ academic achievement, probability of high school graduation and probability of college enrollment. Though selection bias may contribute to overstating the propensity score estimates, the conclusion from the sensitivity analyses is that it is unlikely that this internal-validity challenge negates the principal finding. All estimates are greater for boys than for girls. Calculations demonstrate that the IB Diploma Program is a cost-effective way to increase high school graduation rates.

Conclusions: The results are valuable for three reasons. First, they provide valuable information with which to make decisions about future investments in IB. Second, they contribute to knowledge of the means through which to improve high school education for disadvantaged urban youth. Finally, the results suggest that IB enrollment is especially beneficial for boys, for whom the probability of graduating from high school and enrolling in college—in CPS and at the national level—is substantially less than for girls.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase The Academic Impact of Enrollment in International Baccalaureate Diploma Programs: A Case Study of Chicago Public Schools
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 4, 2014, p. -
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17406, Date Accessed: 5/27/2020 10:37:54 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Anna Saavedra
    RAND Corporation
    E-mail Author
    ANNA ROSEFSKY SAAVEDRA is an Associate Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation. Her research interests include education policy, educational equity, educational program evaluations, civic education, 21st-century skills education, and international education. Recent publications include “Do Colleges Cultivate Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Writing and Interpersonal Skills?”, co-authored with Juan Esteban Saavedra, in Economics of Education Review (2011), and “From Dry to Dynamic Civics Education Curricula” in Making Civics Count (2012), published by Harvard Education Press.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue