IB transition brings tension

Starting the 2019 academic year, the Class of 2021 entered the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), discontinuing the Advanced Placement curriculum, with mixed reception.

The preparation for the transition started in September 2018: every week, students attended extensive sessions about the courses offered, the grading format, and more. In addition, teachers attended workshops throughout the year to meet International Baccalaureate (IB) requirements.

Regarding the IB transition, “everybody was scared at the end of 10th grade,” Jinju Park, Class of 2021, also an Academic Delegate, said. “Everyone was used to AP. But I think the teachers tried hard… though it was not effective enough.”

Although some students had met the Woodstock Diploma requirements for certain subjects, the credits had been nullified, due to the different requirements of the IB Diploma. In a few cases, students dropped the IB Diploma to pursue the Woodstock Diploma.

“[IB] is a lot of work, and I know my capabilities,” a student who is pursuing only the Woodstock Diploma, Jai Batra, Class of 2021, said. “I didn’t want to take some of the subjects which would have been required by the IB Diploma. I’m not gaining anything.”

The students had to choose and finalize their courses by February. However, at the start of the school year, a majority of students were notified of course conflicts, and there were extensive meetings between students and Ms. Mou Maiti, Academic and DP coordinator.

“We just had to adapt to IB,” Park said, “the way the school transitioned to IB was not the best way.”

Students generally had mixed feelings on IB.

 “IB teaches you how to think,” Karis Hsu, Class of 2021, said. “It’s useful but tiring.” 

Similarly, Zabihullah Akbar, Class of 2021, said, “IB comes with a lot of pressures but with a lot of opportunities.”

For some, the workload was the defining characteristic of IB. 

“It’s too much work,” Farzin Haque, Class of 2021, said. “They are cramming everything in; the expectations are too high,” Kung Wijunamai, Class of 2021, said. 

Many students shared this sentiment of pressure. 

“Teachers are having difficulty cramming in all the content for SL classes,” Kyutae Kyung, Class of 2021 said. 

But for others, complaints were focused on the schedule. 

“There’s not enough study halls,” Sunkwan Kim, Class of 2021, said. “If we were still in the AP curriculum, I would have more time to prepare for college. Really, they’re setting us up for failure.”

The school also transitioned from using Google Classroom to ManageBac as it is the standard platform for IB schools. This change has caused some issues. For example, teachers had to abandon Google Drive – which is currently incompatible with ManageBac – for Dropbox and Microsoft Office for sharing files and this has been quite inconvenient for both teachers and students.

Google Drive allows sharing files through the Internet without students having to individually download them in class. This allows doing real-time editing, commenting, and collaborating on documents. However, with Microsoft Word and PDF being the primary file formats, all files for class have to be downloaded by every student, and some teacher comments are inaccessible to students. 

As of September 30th, Google Drive is still incompatible with ManageBac. However, Google Drive integration should be implemented in the following weeks.

A major part of the IB Programme is Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) in which students do extracurricular activities that explore the IB learning outcomes such as engaging in global issues and working collaboratively.

There are many interesting CAS projects students are working on, on top of the already existing CARE programs in the school.

Shivam Singhal and Shoaib Ansari, Class of 2021, are planning on moving the school towards more eco-friendly energy solutions, primarily, solar power. 

Singhal said, “I feel like CAS is motivating people to be more innovative. Fewer people would have gone to the recent BBBS [Big Brother Big Sister] event if it were not for CAS. More people are getting out of their comfort zone to get their IB credits.”

The Film PASSAGE has also planned many CAS projects to develop a film culture at Woodstock. Sachin Rijal, Class of 2021, is leading a project on showcasing a certain film every week. 

Naman Agarwal and Araan Suares, Class of 2021, are creating a documentary on Win Mumby to underscore the hard effort of the basketball team. Similarly, Swastik Kundu, Class of 2021, said, “For my CAS project, I want to make a documentary about the often neglected Mussoorie history, with all the social relevance in our community.”

Rahul Gandhi, Class of 2021, is making political paintings to sell them for a charity art exhibition in which all payments go to cancer research in New York. 

“I think this would be helping society,” Gandhi said, “and CAS is inclining me to pursue this project.”

The first two months of this academic year have been a transition phase, in which many problems have arisen but slowly being solved.

Ms. Renee Bowling, Head of Upper Years, said, “The IB emphasizes depth and breadth, more in the way that AP [Advanced Placement] didn’t.”

“[The IB Diploma] was the right path for Woodstock, because we already have a lot in common with IB schools,” Ms. Bowling said. “We’re already doing a lot of the core of IB, now the world can recognize all of what we’re doing.”

Jinho Yoon is the A&E editor for The Woodstocker

Edited by Archita Aggarwal

Featured Image by Janvi Poddar

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