An International Baccalaureate® World School

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) programme aims to do more than other curricula by developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. We strive to develop students who will build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect.


  • encourages students of all ages to think critically and challenge assumptions
  • develops independently of government and national systems, incorporating quality practice from research and our global community
  • encourages students of all ages to consider both local and global contexts
  • develops multilingual students.
The International Baccalaureate® Programme is an internationally consistent, extensively developed global education program held in high regard by colleges and universities all over the world. The IB is known for its rigor and explicit emphasis on creativity, synthesis, critical thinking and deep understanding.

In a collection of essays by Richard Dawkins entitled Science in the Soul, the author reflects on his excellent early education. He recalls teachers who instilled a sense of wonder about the world and enthusiasm for learning and set him on a path to academic and professional excellence. Dawkins learned from teachers who believed that “what matters is not the facts but how you discover and think about them: education in the true sense, very different from today’s assessment-mad exam culture.” This quote could be used to describe the central approach of the IB, and, if you continue reading on this site, you will discover it also expresses the essence of what teachers at Cheshire Academy love about the IB.

It is well known that students aspiring to enroll in competitive colleges and universities focus on taking a large number of advanced placement (AP) courses in high school, even as many colleges limit the amount of credit they are willing to give for high grades.

The AP trend has grown steadily in the US since the 1960s, the same time period when the international diplomatic community initiated the International Baccalaureate® Programme (IB). The IB is growing in the United States and all around the world. It is highly established and very well known all over Europe. While both programs offer rigorous courses, there are distinct and important differences between the AP and IB.

You can read below about some IB courses taught by Cheshire Academy teachers possessing experience with both AP and IB courses. There is a consistent theme in all IB courses: a careful and explicit focus on critical thinking and problem solving. Students learn adaptable critical thinking skills and are asked to apply them creatively, and teachers are encouraged to adopt best practices consistent with emerging brain science and modern educational research. There is decreased emphasis on “coverage” as that has normally been understood in high school education. The injunction to teach “critical thinking skills” has been much repeated in the educational world over the last 30 years; we think the IB Program contains a sophisticated and effective focus on this challenge. All students in the Diploma Programme must take three  High Level (HL) courses and three  Standard Level (SL) courses. The primary distinction between all HL and SL courses is the volume of work; in all other ways, they are the same.

The IB program was initiated by the international diplomatic community in the 1960s and has grown consistently in all ways since then. The founders had a clear agenda: to create a consistent, rigorous program that would allow fluid student movement around the world and help promote international understanding and goodwill.
Nearly all of the Academy’s students take one or more IB courses, which include internal assessments guided by detailed rubrics and sitting for an externally graded exam at the end of the course. The top level of the program is the IB Diploma Programme. This elective, two-year program is demanding. A candidate must take three high-level courses, three standard-level courses, and the Theory of Knowledge course.

The student must enroll in a second language. We offer French, Spanish and Mandarin. In addition, a candidate must write an extended essay on a self-chosen topic and do an extended community service project. Along with the course exams, a major essay in Theory of Knowledge and the extended essay are evaluated externally. We strongly encourage our most ambitious students to do the “Diploma Program.” Our general experience is that a “good” student with developed time management skills who is willing to work hard can thrive in this program, and a gifted student can find the level of challenge they need. We enter careful discussion with any new family about what is best for their student.

Patrick Brown '17

“The IB Diploma Program provides the best educational experience available to a high schooler. It forces you out of your comfort zone — within the classroom and beyond — and allows you to grow not only as a student, but as a citizen. Each IB class includes a broad and deep exploration of the topic at hand, but it is the way that all of this material comes together between subjects that makes the Diploma Program truly rewarding.”

“I would consistently find my classes in the humanities informing the most logical way to communicate an idea in the sciences, and likewise, scientific investigation forming the basis of a research paper in history. The IB further provides opportunities for interdisciplinary studies that allow students to continue these experiences as far as they desire.”

“Since completing the Diploma, I have found myself very well-prepared for my first year at Yale. I believe my experience in the IB has shaped me as a critical thinker, and will continue to impact my life wherever life takes me next.”

Karl Garvy '13

“I started my IB journey as one of the few people in the full diploma program during Cheshire Academy’s inaugural year offering the program. This is the hardest year I ever had academically, including college. It was the first time in which i felt i was really challenging myself academically. This experience was both positive and negative. It was great in that I developed an intense work ethic which would continue into college and help immensely as i tried manage my time between academics and a Division I football program.”

“I was able to leave the football team with the highest GPA on the team and attribute much of this to the time management learned through the IB program. It was also great because I learned to think differently, which I attribute to the fantastic IB teachers I had at Cheshire Academy.

We were told to question everything, to figure out why things happened instead of just what happened, and to challenge our own preconceptions about the world around us. One of my favorite parts about the program was that the classroom embraced debate and promoted intellectual thinking. The IB program was not all good however and is not meant for everyone.”

“I would not be the person I am today, and would not be as successful and driven, if not for the IB program and its passionate educators.”

Nicolina Lamberti '14

“The IB program gave me a new perspective on education that proved invaluable as I headed into college. Through the IB curriculum, I realized that education is not merely about memorizing facts. Nor is it about studying with the sole goal of acing a test. It’s about discussing, sharing perspectives, and reaping the benefits of learning with a diverse set of classmates. It’s about critically thinking, forming connections, and challenging the way that we see the world. It’s about learning for the sake of learning. Now, as a college student, I am able to approach my studies with not just the intention getting a degree, but with the intention of growing as a human being and using that degree to be a catalyst for change in this world.”

Evan Solomon '15

“Although I did not complete the diploma program, I did a majority of the requirements for it: HL History, HL English, SL Spanish, SL Math, and Theory of Knowledge. It was without a doubt the best choice I made at Cheshire Academy (besides just deciding to attend the school!). I greatly appreciated the focus on learning and thinking skills rather than memorizing information. I am far better at conceptualizing, expressing, and critically analyzing ideas because of the program. These classes also opened my mind to a more international lens that forces me to consider other perspectives and question everything instead of taking information at face value. I can say without any reservation that the IB program has fundamentally changed the way I think, the way I view the world, and the things I want to accomplish in life.”

“After graduating from CA, I have been fortunate to continue a similar method of schooling. I graduated from Fordham University in May 2017 cum laude as a double major in Philosophy and International Political Economy. The Jesuit tradition reinforced the same educational principles that I learned at Cheshire Academy, particularly through Fordham’s Core Curriculum of subjects all students must study. Taking Theory of Knowledge in high school exposed me to philosophy, a subject area I have not only studied academically but also extensively in my personal time. I have found the transition to college much easier for myself (and my friends who completed part or all of the IB program) than many of my classmates at Fordham. We were already used to meeting high expectations, managing commitments, and working hard. I would not have been as prepared for college if it wasn’t for the IB program.”

Rachel Wallace '16

“I would definitely say the IB program helped me prepare for college. My favorite part would have to be my extended essay, which I still think about quite often. Writing a paper of that length and scale was something that allowed me to think more deeply on a single topic than I ever had to before or than I have since. I’m now a sophomore at Vassar College, double majoring in Russian Studies and International Studies (focusing on Political Science and German Studies within International Studies). I would say that the IB helped give me international perspective that I’ve found useful in university-level critical analysis, as well as the extensive writing experience I’ve needed in my essay-based courses. I don’t yet have career plans, but I know I want to continue to use my global skills for some kind of international career.”

Marissa Sisco '15

“I am currently a Junior at the University of Richmond studying Mathematics and Computer Science. During my time at Cheshire Academy, I took three IB courses. At the time, I had no idea how important these classes would be to my future academic career. Being at a liberal arts school now, many courses emphasize the importance of analyzing text and writing papers. These are two key components of the IB program.”

“My freshman year of college, each student was required to take a seminar course aimed at making sure everyone had sufficient reading and writing skills. Because of my IB courses, I was prepared for these classes and was one step ahead of the other students who did not have the opportunity to take these high level classes in high school. I am forever thankful for the impact the IB program had on me from the teachers, to the small classes, to my peers who were always supportive of me and the other students. The IB program brings students and teachers together creating a bond that carries with them throughout their future.”

Emma Gawronski '14

“The most important thing I got out of it all is learning how to effectively manage my time, given that extracurricular activities are a big part of Cheshire Academy on top of academics. Through experiencing the IB Diploma Programme, I gained the skills and work ethic that together have made it possible for me to succeed as a double-major in Psychology and Art and be a varsity athlete at Connecticut College.”

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