Recently, I conducted an independent survey of admission professionals at IB World Schools in order to gain perspective on how admission professionals felt about communicating the IB curriculum and also their experience in how they themselves learned about the IB program in their schools.

Much of this inquiry stemmed from my own experience having worked in Admissions at two IB World Schools that had two very different approaches at presenting the IB to prospective parents.

In addition, in China where IB is becoming an increasingly popular curriculum of consideration for parents, it has taken time conducting my own research and self-training to truly feel comfortable explaining the IB to prospective parents (in my native language English and also second language Mandarin).

Why IB?

The IB program (especially the DP) is quite pervasive in international schools and is growing in popularity globally. As an IB World School, we share in the mission of the IB and adhere to the standards set out by the IB. Thus, in the context of admissions, we share the similar function of introducing prospective parents to the IB and also showcasing how the program and curriculum is delivered at our specific schools. Because of our shared experience of introducing and articulating the IB to prospective families, I wanted to know how Admission professionals felt about this function and also whether or not there were any additional training needs.

How long have you been working in admissions?

Respondents

There were a total of 91 respondents with 86 respondents completing the full survey. The majority of respondents were concentrated in two regions, Asia and Europe. The number of respondents from full continuum IB schools (offering IB curriculum only) and those schools offering IB in addition to other curricula was almost exactly 50/50. Approximately 60% of respondents have worked in Admissions for 5 years or more and 40% under 5 years.

I understand the IB Mission Statement and refer to it with prospective parents.

IB Foundations

Admission professionals show a strong baseline understanding of the IB Mission Statement and Learner Profile, two important tenets of the IB curriculum. In addition, the survey results reflect that the majority of respondents understand how the IB curriculum is integrated into their respective schools and have confidence to share aspects and outcomes of the IB to prospective parents. Under the assumption that “Agree” shows full confidence in these areas and “Somewhat Agree” and “Disagree” show wavering confidence or little confidence, the results show that approximately 75% have strong confidence in these areas of understanding and communicating the IB in the admissions context.

I received training in understanding the IB when I started in admissions.

I believe additional training in understanding the IB will be of added value to my work.

Training

When it comes to admissions training in the IB, the numbers are actually reversed. 73% of admission professionals did not receive training in the IB. Thus, this makes the above “confidence” index very interesting, as there was no formal training given in Admissions.

In addition, 87% of respondents have been working in admissions for two years or more, thus, it can be deduced that admission professionals are largely self-taught relying on colleagues and resources to gain perspective and understanding. Please note, that this is specific to understanding and articulating the IB and not a comment about standard training practices for Admission professionals in respective schools.

Resources

Respondents use a variety of resources to understand the IB and how it is delivered in their schools. With the exception of classroom teachers, 50% of all respondents selected all the resources listed as references with an overwhelming majority (85%) seeking the guidance of the IB Coordinator. Additional resources including online and print are the IBO website and Admission, Marketing materials and curriculum information produced by the school.

Added value training

The opportunity to receive additional training would be well received by the majority of the respondents. Common areas of interest based on comments include :

  • IB as compared to other curricula: What are the different approaches to learning and are their differences in outcomes for higher education?
  • Understanding IB in the school context at a deeper level: What are specific examples of IB learning happening in my school
  • Being made aware of any changes to IB or implementation in the school

When dissected for years of experience, respondents with 5 years or less tend to be more interested in overall IB information and statistics wanting further details about the curriculum (courses offered, grading scale, and comparative outcomes). For respondents with 5 years or more experience, understanding how IB works at a deeper level within the school context; closer connections with the classrooms and how IB is delivered to students with specific examples of student learning were more important.

Conclusion

When a parent asks, “why IB?” we want to be able to answer this question, with confidence, using data-driven answers and/or specific examples within our school community to showcase our programs.

Based on the results of this survey, it is reasonable to conclude that additional training for IB Admission professionals would be something schools should consider when it comes to a deeper level of understanding the IB in both a global and also localized context. In-house training seems to be the most reasonable approach as the majority of respondents already utilize the IB Coordinator as a main resource. Devising space and time for Admission professionals to systematically connect with the IB within the school context will only strengthen the understanding and ability to tell the “IB stories” happening in the school. For the wider, global context, having a key connection to IBO website, blogs and social media would be of great benefit to the admission staff to understand the wider reach of the IB. Having a key point person in the schools (can be someone in Admissions) aggregate and curate important news and information regarding IB globally to share with Admissions staff would be of added value to the function of Admissions.

For more information on survey results or to be a part of the conversation of training for IB Admission professionals please connect with me at menglish@wiss.cn

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