Landscape of International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in the Asia Pacific Region: Challenges in IB program transition

Moo Sung LEE, Philip HALLINGER, Allan David WALKER

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


In response to the burgeoning demand for high quality education in the Asia Pacific region, the international schools sector has grown rapidly in recent years. Nowhere has this regional trend been more evident than among schools that employ the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. Indeed, the Asia Pacific region has evidenced the fastest growth in IB schools across the world (IBO, 2009). One consequence arising from this rapid growth of 'IB schools' has been a problem of curriculum implementation. IB schools offer three challenging programs that consist of: 1. Primary Years Program (PYP) for pupils aged 3 to 12 which focuses on the development of the whole child, 2. Middle Years Program (MYP) for students aged 11 to 16 which emphasizes academic challenge and life skills, and 3. Diploma Program (DP) for students aged 16 to 19 which leads to an IB diploma recognized by universities around the world. While all three have been developed under the auspices of the IB organization, the three programs operate according to distinctly different curricular philosophies and approaches. This reflects the fact that three programs have evolved 'organically' rather than 'strategically' within the world of IB schools. Thus, even as the IB Organization has encouraged schools to adopt all three programs as a 'full continuum' of quality education, schools that have sought to implement multiple programs have found themselves facing a number of significant programmatic and curricular challenges. Our paper explores these curriculum challenges facing IB schools in the Asia Pacific region. As part of a larger, multi-method study (Hallinger et al., 2010), our study utilizes data collected from a global survey of IB coordinators at175 IB schools located throughout the world. Our quantitative analysis of the survey data seeks to on identify the nature of challenges associated with high-quality program implementation of the IB curriculum transition from MYP to DP. The paper will both explore these challenges within the group of IB schools located in the Asia Pacific region as well as compare the results with IB schools located in other parts of the world. The findings offer insights into both the challenges encountered among IB schools in developing a whole-school approach to curriculum implementation, as well as practices associated with successful implementation in the eyes of the IB coordinators. The key findings are categorized into four areas: learning culture, challenges and changes in the MYP-DP transition, leadership and management, and monitoring and assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010


Lee, M. S., & Hallinger, P. & Walker, A. (2010, November). Landscape of International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in the Asia Pacific Region: Challenges in IB program transition. Paper presented at the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) Conference 2010, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


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