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Which preparatory curriculum for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is best? The challenge for international schools with regard to mathematics and science

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There are two mainstream curricula for international school students at the junior high level: the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). The former was developed in the mid-1990s and is currently being relaunched in a 21st-century approach. The latter programme of study was developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations in 1985 and has become popular in recent years among British domestic and international schools worldwide due to the clarity of its learning content. The prevailing uncertainty about which curriculum is best to prepare students for the IB Diploma Programme represents a challenge for international schools. The purpose of the current study is to develop a methodology through causal models which can explain the relationship between student performance in the IGCSE and the Diploma Programme with regard to mathematics and science. The data evaluated here consisted of external examination scores of students who attended a private international high school between the years 2005 and 2012. Two structural equation models were developed. The first model employed a maximum likelihood estimation, while the second model used a Bayesian estimation with a Markov Chain Monte Carlo method. Both models fit the data well. The evidence suggests that the IGCSE provides a good foundational preparation for the Diploma Programme in mathematics and science.


Quel programme préparatoire au diplôme du baccalauréat international est le meilleur ? Le défi des écoles internationales avec les mathématiques et les sciences en exemple – Il existe deux programmes principaux pour les élèves du premier cycle de l’enseignement secondaire des écoles internationales : le Programme de premier cycle secondaire (PPCS) de l’Organisation du Baccalauréat International (IB) et le Certificat général de l’enseignement secondaire (Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education, IGCSE). Le premier a été introduit au milieu des années 1990 et est actuellement remanié selon une approche adaptée au XXIe siècle. Créé en 1995 par l’unité des examens internationaux de l’université de Cambridge, le second programme d’études est prisé ces dernières années par les écoles britanniques nationales et internationales implantées à l’étranger, en raison de la clarté de ses contenus éducatifs. L’incertitude actuelle sur le meilleur programme pour préparer les élèves au baccalauréat international constitue un défi pour les écoles internationales. L’étude présentée ici poursuivait l’objectif d’élaborer une méthodologie au moyen de modèles de causalité, qui peuvent expliquer la relation entre les résultats des élèves en mathématiques et en sciences et chacun des deux cursus. Les données évaluées dans ce but consistent en les notes obtenues aux examens externes des élèves inscrits dans une école secondaire internationale privée durant les années 2005 à 2012. Deux modèles par équations structurelles ont été élaborés. Le premier a utilisé une estimation de probabilité maximale, le second une estimation bayésienne avec une méthode de Monte Carlo par chaîne de Markov. Les deux modèles ont présenté une bonne adéquation des données. Les conclusions suggèrent que l’IGCSE fournit une bonne préparation de base en mathématiques et en sciences pour le programme du diplôme.

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Correspondence to M. Sencer Corlu.

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Corlu, M.S. Which preparatory curriculum for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is best? The challenge for international schools with regard to mathematics and science. Int Rev Educ 60, 793–801 (2014).

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