AICE and IB: An opportunity to expand our knowledge

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AICE and IB vary in many beneficial ways from the standard AP class. (Photo/People Images)

Here at American Heritage, we like to challenge our knowledge and pride ourselves in getting the best education. The privileges we receive are quite broad when it comes to aiding and planning our futures, ranging from the diverse clubs to college visits and tours. With this mindset, it’s in Heritage’s best interest to offer a wide variety of programs, tracks and classes. Currently, students can be placed in a specialty track and varying levels of curriculum (college placement, advanced, honors, and advanced placement, better known as AP). Heritage, does not, however, offer similar college-preparing AICE or IB classes. These programs differ from AP courses and adding these options would be a good addition to the school’s curriculum. 

In 1998,  Cambridge Assessment, a department of the University of Cambridge in England, created AICE, which stands for Advanced International Certificate of Education. Similar to AP classes, AICE classes allow students to earn college credits that will let them bypass basic college freshmen requirements. Besides the individual classes, one can earn an AICE diploma, which allows for a lot more creative choices than AP. To earn a diploma, students must earn seven credits (one of which is a required core course that everyone must take). The remaining six credits can be earned from the fifty classes that are divided into four different groups; mathematics and science, languages, arts and humanities and interdisciplinary skills.  Students need at least one credit from the first three groups; the fourth group is optional. These already countless classes are divided into A level (1 credit) and AS level (2 credits). The better you do in a class, the better the diploma title you earn (Pass Level, Merit, Distinction). Students can take rigorous college-level courses, while having the liberty to adjust their classes to their interests and needs at the same time. From basic classes like biology and english language to intricate ones like Nepal studies and environmental management, there are a lot of options to choose from. If students prefer to take less classes from the math and science section and more in languages, they’ll do better learning things they’re passionate about instead of being required to. With so much room for variety, students can alter the classes they take based on their choosing while still earning a diploma, which AP can’t offer. Additionally, while AP classes attempt to touch a wide range of topics in a single course, AICE’s flexible curriculum allows teachers to go more in-depth in some subjects than others based on student interest.  Basically, instead of having a set course material that needs to be covered, like AP, AICE teachers can choose to delve deeper in on certain modules and skim over others in order to maximize student engagement and interest. All of these perks contribute to the idea that this program offers a lot more creatively than AP.

AICE can also grant a lot of financial compensation to Floridians. The majority of colleges that accept AICE are centered in Florida. If students earn the AICE diploma and complete 100 hours of community service, students automatically become eligible for the Florida Academic Scholars award, granted by the Bright Futures Scholarship. Even if students do not complete the diploma but complete a combination of AICE coursework, community service hours, and minimum scores on the SAT/ACT, they may also be eligible for the scholarship. As well as preparing students for college, the financial benefits of this program can greatly help with tuition.

The Swiss-created IB program, which stands for the International Baccalaureate program, intends to provide high schoolers with a more rigorous and tougher education. When you hear about IB classes at high schools, it usually refers to IBDP, or IB Diploma Programme. In order to earn an IB diploma, one must take courses and pass exams in six distinct topics (three/four of which must be taken at their more difficult “Higher” level and the rest can be at their “Standard” level).  Additionally, students must write an extensive essay based on independent research, take a Theory of Knowledge course and participate in a range of extracurricular activities (clubs, etc.). Students choose the diploma-necessary essay topic they write about, allowing for a greater deal of expression in their essays. The essays students choose to write as a part of this course base off of their passions, which says a lot about themselves to colleges (kind of like a college dissertation paper). IB deals with a single, course-long, independent and longer essay reflecting their interests rather than the multiple assigned essays students write according to topic in AP. Upon completing the diploma, students’ academic potential and ability will reflect due to the program’s rigorous reputation. Not to mention, due to the program’s rare availability in schools, the exclusiveness creates a smaller number of students who can put the prestigious qualification on an application. 

Like AP, IB does allow colleges to determine class placement. However, IB stands one step further in the sense that its curriculum is based on an international standard, not just US standards. Thus, students who took IB and want to study abroad will have already familiarized themselves with the universal academic system, not just american standards. Countries like France, Spain, Italy, India and Turkey all accept the IB diploma for entrance to colleges. Some international universities even grant scholarships to those with IB diplomas. While some schools may need extra requirements, IB remains very impressive on an application.

This variety of learning styles, opportunities and curriculum that AICE and IB outline are almost necessary for goal-oriented kids at Heritage. Different students can learn more efficiently when given the option of different learning techniques, and may want to choose these distinctive programs in these vital years. Unfortunately, the availability of AICE/IB depends on whether or not a school offers AICE and IB, which is out of the hands of students. Unfortunately, Heritage does not offer these classes due to the fact that there isn’t enough room for the programs due to the variety of classes already offered. Administration states that in order to add AICE and IB on top of AP curriculum, they would need to eliminate pre-existing courses in order to make space. Hopefully, as Heritage expands and grows, it can still be possible to see these great options added into the school’s curriculum in the future. If the opportunity were to arise, considering these programs in Heritage’s future will help further expand its wonderful learning system as well as their student’s knowledge. 

Noor is a sophomore at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. She has always been passionate about her writing, and is looking forward to being a part of the Patriot Post. Noor is a passionate Arab-Muslim American who is proud of her heritage. She loves trying new things and traveling the world and hopes to broaden her horizons as a part of this team.

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