IB cancels all April and May exams because of coronavirus-related school closures worldwide

Seniors+worry+about+being+eligible+to+receive+their+International+Baccalaureate+diploma+following+the+program%27s+decision+to+cancel+all+exams+this+school+year.+Image+taken+by+Accolade+news+editor+Tyler+Pak

Seniors worry about being eligible to receive their International Baccalaureate diploma following the program’s decision to cancel all exams this school year. Image taken by Accolade news editor Tyler Pak

Tyler Pak

Unlike the College Board that has gone on to offer a much abbreviated Advanced Placement exam for its various subjects next month, the International Baccalaureate [IB] program has issued a statement canceling all tests between April 30 and May 22, prompting many seniors to feel anxious about receiving their diplomas. 

“As an organization, it is critical for us to ensure that the options we provide for our IB community, students and teachers are fair and compassionate during these difficult circumstances,” according to a March 22 statement posted on IB’s website. “As a result, the IB with considerable advisement from stakeholders across the globe including schools, students, universities and official bodies have tried to determine the most responsible and ethical way forward.”

In a statement on its website, IB reassured students that they will still have the opportunity to receive their diplomas and certificates.  

“The achievement will be based around the students’ coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes,” according to the statement.

In an email sent out to all IB students, IB coordinator Brian Wall said all internal assessments [IA], supporting commentaries and predicted grades must be uploaded for IB by April 20. Because of this, Wall told teachers that Sunny Hills’ deadline would be April 15.   

You may have already heard from your teachers about this,” he said in a March 28 email to all Sunny Hills IB students. “If they had given you a deadline based on IB’s past statements (which were in May), they will now be adjusting to April 15.”

IB council president senior Cecilia Lee was more concerned about how IB’s decision will affect some of her IB peers.

“As someone who definitely performs better on the tests than the written assignments, I feel as if the IBO made a really unwise and rushed decision to rely solely on written assignments and predicted grades,” Lee said. “Personally, I have no concerns about earning my diploma, but I do know some of my peers are definitely feeling pressure especially since they’re in situations where they have already submitted their IAs with the prior knowledge that they would also be having a test to boost their actual scores.”

IB Biology teacher David Kim, who has several IB seniors in his classes, understands IB’s decision, adding that it’s been a challenge for IB teachers and students.

“The students and teachers did the best with the situation at hand,” Kim said. “It was difficult to conduct in-depth experiments for the biology IA when we were not physically present together. Students needed equipment and technology that they did not have at the home environment. The international governing bodies of IB were not very flexible with due dates. The students and faculty did the best they could to meet the deadlines and requirements.”

Junior Harbinder Dhariwal, who took the standard level IB Math class this year, was disappointed that he lost his opportunity to showcase what he has learned. 

“I feel kind of upset that I can’t take the test,” Dhariwal said. “I feel as if I got denied my chance to prove myself with the test. Because we can’t take the test, part of our IB grade is based off our predicted grade, so if you didn’t do well in class but are an excellent test taker you’re put at a disadvantage.”

Principal Allen Whitten was one of the first to break the news to Sunny Hills students on March 26 in his weekly digital newsletter. 

IB is a global organization,” Whitten wrote. “I am comforted by the fact that our students will not be disadvantaged in any way due to their decisions.”

Wall said he’s confident that Sunny Hills students and staff will be able to work through this unusual situation. 

“I think everyone was generally anxious especially during the wait to hear what IB was going to do about external assessments, but we have great teachers, and they are adapting and finding solutions to complete the IA’s on time,” Wall said. “Our IB students are resilient, and I think the bond they have with each other and our staff is reassuring to them. We’ve never been through something like this, but I think we have a strong self-belief and a collective spirit that anything is possible and doable.”