The 2022 IB cohort did not have a 'normal' run up to the exams in May, given that for the first year of this two-year programme, and indeed for part of the second year in some cases, life had not returned to 'normal'.
Distance learning was a significant part of the learning process for most students and undertaking the practical elements of the IB Diploma and Career-related programmes, which required external activities related to CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) have been a challenge. Add to this the general issues related to student wellbeing, which have been widely acknowledged, and the lead up to the May 2022 session could hardly be described as 'typical' of the historical preparation for the final examinations.
The following table illustrates not only the impact of the pandemic in 2021 and 2020, but more revealingly perhaps, the details of awards over the previous four years and the significant changes in the global points average, and the global pass rate.
From a situation where the global points average had not exceeded 30 points in the previous four years, and with pass rates not exceeding 80%, these two figures alone reveal the extent of the uptick in points and passes in 2021 and 2020.
|IBDP global average points||Global pass rate %||No of students globally|
Not only has there been a significant increase in the average point score across the globe, but both those of 2021 and 2020 broke boundaries that had previously only been achieved back in 2002 to 2005, as the following table shows.
|IBDP global average points||Global pass rate||No of students globally|
The IBO Bulletin for May 2006 - the earliest available on the IBO website - also shows higher global pass rates than those for the period 2016 to 2019, but given the difference in student numbers, which had doubled by 2016, it is to be expected, with a more inclusive approach enabling students with a wider range of abilities to participate in the IB programmes, that a lower overall figure might be expected.
Prior to the exams in May, the IBO issued a statement acknowledging pandemic’s ongoing disruption to education, as a result of which the IB had made adaptations "to help address the challenges caused by the pandemic, including adjustments to assessment, which have been extended to examinations in 2022."
The statement included the following information:
"Wherever it is possible, students sitting examinations is the best method to assess student capability and the IB expects schools to make all reasonable efforts to administer the examinations. We want to reassure you that we will deeply consider the impact of the pandemic when awarding results for students this year. We will undertake significant review of results at a country, school, subject and student level to ensure that we can mitigate for the disruption students have faced.
“To ensure individual students do not receive a lower outcome because of missed face-to-face teaching, we will adjust our grade boundaries. This follows the successful approach we took in the 2021 sessions. The IB understands that the pandemic has been, and continues to be, an exceptionally difficult time for students and their families. You have been required to be more flexible with your education than ever before, adapting to changes between face-to-face classroom learning and the demands of online learning. Throughout all remaining focused on your studies despite the unique stress of living through a pandemic and continued disrupted educational experience.
“The IB continues to work closely with schools to understand the circumstances faced by our community globally to ensure we can provide the correct support, resources, and mitigations for the disruption to learning you have experienced throughout the pandemic.”
In June, the IBO published an article from Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director General of the International Baccalaureate, which clearly indicates that the IBO is also considering other potential options aside from traditional examinations – somewhat perhaps in conflict with their pre-examination statement.
The article by the Director General, reflecting on the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic and, latterly, the war in Ukraine notes:
"For students to thrive and make a difference, we are called to engage in open, forthright conversations about what we teach and how we teach it; how we can help our students become the agents of change we so desperately need. It is never easy, but I believe the IB is uniquely placed to empower the next generation of students with the confidence – and the agency – to make a significant impact on the world they are to inherit."
He continues; "So, what is the role of the IB in 2022? How do we help today’s world as it faces its own unique challenges and uncertainties? The IB’s founders would not have wanted us to stand still in the face of this opportunity, but instead to evolve, and turn the Covid-19 crisis into a chance to renew and refresh their vision.
“Certainly, the challenges confronting us today are different in nature from those that came before. They are more complex, more global, and more multifaceted. They demand that we think differently. Take for example the climate emergency. Tackling this huge international crisis is not just an academic problem, it is a moral one. We also need to think about ways to tackle the selfishness, greed, and apathy - human conditions connected to what we value, how we behave and treat each other - around the globe.
"As well as surveying the aftermath of Covid-19, we must also look around at the digital revolution that is transforming the world at a rate previously unthinkable. New technology is a challenge to education on two fronts. Firstly, it is a challenge to how we teach. Secondly, it is a challenge to what we teach. The IB cannot afford to ignore either of these – the change in society is accelerating and not slowing – and the IB needs to be at its cutting edge.
"First, the “how”. For too long we have thought about education as the synchronous relationship between a teachers at the front of a physical class, imparting information to a group of children writing things down on pieces of paper. Similarly, the idea of linear courses culminating in in-person exams feels to me, archaic.
"The standardized ways of teaching and learning only fit some, and therefore fail to uphold the principle of equity. This way of thinking about teaching was a function of a bygone era, and it completely fails to reflect the world our students – but also our teachers – now occupy. The near future of the IB involves moving beyond these anachronistic ways of thinking about pedagogy and assessment. There are developments to explore in terms of digital teaching, digital assessment and digital qualifications that we must commit to exploring and piloting.”
The article is wide-ranging, addressing not only 'how' the IB programmes should be taught and assessed, but also the 'what'and the 'who', the latter acknowledging that the IB programmes are often seen as elitist and the need for greater inclusion (though in fact half of schools offering the IB programmes are in the state sector). You can read it here.
Next: IB Results Roundup 2022