For more info: Heather Scott
Teacher/Campus Coordinator
International Baccalureate Program
Leander High School
Room: 323
Phone: 435-8000


Students who complete the International Baccalaureate program can earn up to 24 hours of college credit. Read the bill.

International Baccalaureate Organization

What is IB? (A general PowerPoint Presentation about IB)
IB at Leander (A PowerPoint presentation about the IB program here

For bus transportation routes, click here:
Bus 63
Bus 86
Bus 218

Bus 222
(If a student doesn't find a stop close to his/her home and he/she lives within a regular bus route for LHS, they should check the district website.)

IB in the news...
Hill Country News, January 2007. Print this story.
Hill Country News, October 2005. Print this story.

Read stories below...

LISD awards most IB diplomas ever - Tough course load, community service makes it hard to attain

By Kate Goeke, Hill Country News

Earning an International Baccalaureate Diploma is no small feat. It requires that high school students seeking it study, learn and retain a vast amount of college-level information. It should be no surprise, then, that IB diplomas are awarded to a select, small percentage of a high school's students.

The IB program has been offered by Leander ISD since 1999. The number of diplomas awarded through this program, the district's most rigorous high school course of study, has averaged only two per year. That is, until now.

Seven IB Diplomas were awarded to 2006 Leander High School graduates Brian Benjamin, Ashley Camargo, Zak Fisher, David Jameson, Cozette Kosary, Kathryn Loeffler and Julia Trihn. The international awards were presented to them at a special ceremonial dinner on Thursday, Jan. 4.

The International Baccalaureate program began in the 1960s to ensure the children of ambassadors and diplomats, who moved often, could receive a consistent education recognized by major universities throughout the world. As of December 2006, there were 1,250 IB schools worldwide and 520 in the United States. The prestigious program is only offered in 39 of Texas' nearly 2,000 public and private high schools.

To earn an IB Diploma, candidates must successfully pass college-level courses in six core areas in their junior and senior years of high school, complete a 4,000-word extended essay, perform 150 hours of community service and take a series of internationally-graded exams, from which they must earn a minimum of 24 points to complete the program. Students who do not earn the 24 points or who choose to take only certain exams can earn IB Certificates in specific fields of study.

Nine candidates received certificates at the ceremony: Jonathan Alford, Chelsea Couch, Tyler Kinslow, Ingrid Kong, Devin Matthews, Patrick Mears, C.W. Reynolds, Thomas Saddington and Tony Whitehead.

Kong and Saddington each received 23 points - just one point shy of the diploma - and are retesting this spring. Judy Guerra, LISD IB coordinator, said their prospects for receiving the full diploma are excellent. That would bring the total diplomas awarded to 2006 graduates to a record nine.

The IB classes are similar to the College Board's Advanced Placement classes and tests, but there are several distinct differences. Students may take AP tests without having taken AP courses (although counselors recommend the courses to prepare for the tests). IB students, however, are required to take the corresponding classes in order to sit for the exams. Also, the IB is a “whole curricular” program, requiring students participate in the full program.

Texas recently joined a number of other states in recognizing the accomplishments of IB diploma graduates. The state awarded them an automatic 24 hours of college credit, and allows them to enter college with sophomore standing, potentially shaving thousands of dollars off the cost of a college education. Many private universities also recognize the diploma with various forms of compensation.

This spring, 28 Leander seniors plan to test for the IB Diploma - an increase of more than 100 percent over last year, when 13 sat for the full diploma. Guerra credits this increase to wider awareness of the program throughout LISD's secondary schools.

“Our program has steadily grown,” Guerra said. “We have worked hard over the last couple of years to increase district-wide awareness of the IB program and to promote it to incoming students.”

Guerra expects the program will grow tremendously over the next few years.

“This year, we have had 60 current sophomores and more than 100 freshmen give us letters of intent to participate in the program,” she said.

Still, LISD's IB program has plenty of room to grow compared to other districts that have offered the program longer. There are only two other IB World high schools in Central Texas - Round Rock ISD's Westwood and Austin ISD's Anderson high schools. By comparison, from 1999 to 2005, Westwood averaged 72 IB seniors per year, with an average of 29 per year receiving the diploma.

Students and parents considering the program often fear an overwhelming amount of homework with no time to participate in other activities. The former IB students at the awards dinner admitted the program is challenging and does require a high level of self-motivation and commitment.

“If your parents have to be pushing you in this program, it might not be for you,” Brian Benjamin, now a Rice University freshman, said.

“There are always going to be hard times,” Kathryn Loeffler said, “but when you're done you have something to be really proud of.”

The graduates insisted, however, they still had time to participate in extracurricular activities, and some even maintained part-time jobs after school.

“Don't think if you're in IB that you won't have time to do what you want to do,” Tyler Kinslow said. His afterschool activities included working as a lifeguard at Milburn Pool.

The graduates agreed, though, that the most important benefit they received was being better prepared for the rigors of college.

“I really learned how to manage my time in high school,” said Tony Whitehead, who is now an honors music education major at the University of North Texas. “I was pleasantly surprised how easy it is now in college. It was hard in high school, but it has made the transition to college super-easy.”

The graduates also agreed that, if they had it to do over again, they would still pursue the IB - although several admitted they would procrastinate less on assignments. They also encouraged up-and-coming and potential IB students to stick with the program.

“It's all about your thirst for knowledge,” Kinslow said.

“It forces you out of your box and shifts your paradigm,” Patrick Mears said.

“Everyone at Leander High School has the ability to do IB,” Benjamin said. “It's all about time, commitment and making choices.”

For more information on the International Baccalaureate Diploma program, visit the LISD website at, or contact Glenn Chapin, LISD Advanced Programs Coordinator, at 434-5046.

LISD's IB program offers ‘world' class education

By Charles Wood, Four Points News

You might not expect high school students to demand the hardest - and best - coursework they can get, but for students in Leander ISD's IB program, it's second nature.

IB (International Baccalaureate) is for students in grades 11 and 12 who love a challenge. Students interested in the program take pre-IB courses in the 9th and 10th grades. IB students take courses in six areas: English, a foreign language, social studies, science, math, and one elective.

“ It started as a program for children of diplomats, so they could get a consistent education as they moved from country to country,” said Alicia Russell, coordinator of Secondary Advanced Placement programs for Leander ISD. “Since that time, it has become arguably the most rigorous and best college preparation course of study in the world.”

The non-profit International Baccalaureate Organization was founded in 1968. The organization is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It works with 1,598 schools in 121 countries, and approximately 200,000 students. Headquarters for this area is New York.

The Texas IB program received a major boost during the last legislative session with the passage of Senate Bill 111. That legislation grants up to 24 hours of college credit to any student that has received an IB diploma.

“ The program has grown every year,” said Russell. “This year, we have 15 diploma candidates. Next year, we should have 25 to 30. At the freshman and sophomore levels, there are 130 LISD students pursuing the IB diploma program.”

How does a student know whether he or she belongs in the IB program? “The IB program is designed to create a well-rounded scholar,” said Russell. “It covers a wide range of subjects, so the student needs to have at least a minimal level of interest across the board, not just be focused on one thing.”

LISD recommends that students begin preparing for IB (and AP) as early as middle school, by taking courses such as Algebra I and a foreign language.

IB is much like AP (Advanced Placement) and other college prep courses (students in both plans are often taught in the same classrooms, with a blended curriculum), but IB is especially rigorous.

“ Students who graduate with the IB program are so much more prepared for college than their peers,” said Russell. “The more rigorous the program, the better prepared for college a student is - and you can't get much more rigorous than this. My favorite quote about the program is, ‘we do this to help kids get through college, not out of college.' IB helps them be more successful once they get to college.”

Students with IB diplomas have gone on to great success at prestigious universities all over the world, said Russell. “Even if you don't get the diploma, you still get the benefit,” she added. “You don't even know if you got the diploma till several weeks after you graduate high school, but just going through the program is great preparation for college.”

Leander High School applied to join the IB program in 1997. “There was an intensive application process,” said Russell. “We had to submit a lot of information about the school, curriculum, teachers and training. The program then sent a site team to decide if LHS would be authorized as an IB school.”

The school was authorized by the program in 1999 and graduated its first IB student in 2000.
Teachers in the IB program must attend special training. Leander High School currently has 30 IB trained teachers.

Some of the students' work is externally moderated, being shipped all over the world to be graded. They take exams at the end of their courses. Performance in the class and on exams is graded to give an IB score in each of the six subjects. If a student makes a total score of 24 points, he or she receives an IB diploma.

In addition to their course work, students in the IB program must perform community service and receive at least 150 CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) hours. Math teacher Ralene Gideon coordinates the CAS portion of the IB program.

Each IB student also writes an essay and takes a course about reason and critical thinking called Theory of Knowledge (TOK). Judy Guerra, who is campus coordinator for the IB program, teaches TOK - a course students can only get through IB.

“ It teaches epistemology, asking ‘how do we know what we know?'” said Guerra. “Students learn all the ways we acquire knowledge and discover all of them are flawed. They leave as critical thinkers who ask ‘what do we really know?' It makes them more rational arguers, who don't accept everything they hear without questioning.”

IB courses are different from regular high school courses in creativity as well as difficulty. For example, an IB math course recently dealt with the question, “did people invent mathematics or did they discover it?” As an exercise, the class proposed an alien race on another planet with only three appendages and proceeded to invent a system of mathematics that made sense for that race.

“ We're always looking at refining the IB program,” said Russell. “We review our program on an annual basis. This year, we're going through a five-year review. We will do self-reflection, and will also get a review from the IB program.”

LISD's IB program is for students throughout the district, but it is housed at Leander High School. Those who live in other attendance areas must transfer into LHS to participate in the IB program.

“ We have students who transfer in every year,” said Russell. “When the district decided to apply to the IB program, there was only one high school. As LISD has grown with the program and learned the IB concept, the district has decided to provide transportation rather than try to duplicate it at different campuses. Transportation has been done very successfully, and is very convenient should a student decide to transfer in and participate in the IB program.”

Entering the IB program is a big decision - for the student and the student's family.

“ If they are thinking about it, we will let students come in and shadow some IB courses to see if it's something they might want to do,” Russell said.

Katie Loeffler, a senior, enrolled in IB because she wanted more rigorous courses. “I like the way it's not just about straight facts, but more about in-depth concepts,” she said. “Especially the TOK courses. They come with a lot of good homework and a lot of good reading.” Loeffler plans to study liberal arts and science, and perhaps engineering in college. She has applied to Rice, Duke and the University of Texas.

Senior C.W. Reynolds enrolled in IB because he wanted to get more out of school, and wanted to surround himself with others who felt the same way.

“ I was in basic courses and I got tired of it, because people seemed not to care,” Reynolds said. “First, I decided to take AP, and then I found out about IB and decided to bump it up a notch.”

Published 10/19/05
Copyright © 2005 Hill Country News

  Last Updated: June 5, 2009