‘RANDOM’ GRADES BY IBO IN GENEVA DESTROYS TOP IB STUDENTS’ DREAMS – UPDATE !
UPDATE! IB RESULTS SCANDAL 2020
by Chené Koscielny
Thousands of top IB students at international schools across the world, including Geneva, have lost out on university offers because of so-called ‘standardised’ grading in the absence of 2020 IB exams. The IB diploma is offered by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), headquartered in Geneva.
The issue has been dubbed “IB results scandal 2020” in news publications around the world.
UPDATE: I’m happy to report that my daughter’s story below can be updated – as she has since been offered a place at her first choice university in London to study medicine.
I want to make it clear that her acceptance was in NO WAY due to anything the IBO (International Baccalaureate Organisation) has done – and was purely a decision taken by the university based on her application. They chose to ignore the IBO’s standardised grades.
However, there are still many deserving students, like her, who have not been as lucky and who will miss out on a year of education. The IBO’s much belated and confusing efforts to address the problem had no impact on my daughter’s situation and would have still left her without a university place, had her first choice uni not decided to accept her regardless of her grades, which technically no longer met their entry requirements.
We have yet to receive the results of an appeal on behalf of my daughter from the IBO – and now university places for many courses are full and there is much more competition – following a UK government decision to allow A-level students to use predicted grades for applications. The IBO has refused to allow the same, putting IB students at a significant disadvantage.
My personal opinion remains that the IBO senior management have proven themselves to be totally insensitive to the needs of thousands of their own students – with no clarity, no apology and much delayed and inadequate action to protect students. Their approach, in my opinion, shared by many parents, students and teachers on forums and social media channels around the world, can only be described as seriously incompetent and arrogant. They are a law onto themselves, handsomely funded by us, the international parents.
I truly believe the IB is a worthwhile diploma. Unfortunately, the IBO management renders the diploma worthless if they can’t protect students during times of crisis – as they have shown during 2020.
Our hearts go out to all the IB students who are still faced with the stress and heartache (as described in Paula’s story below) caused by an organisation which has shown weak and ineffective management – letting down and potentially altering the life course of thousands of students.
This is my daughter’s story – but she is one of thousands of children around the world, including Geneva, particularly in the Sciences and Maths – who have had their futures destroyed overnight.
A petition against these ‘unfair’ grades has reached nearly 25,000 signatures.
(Since then the UK A-level results also proved to be a ‘fiasco’, but the situation was swiftly addressed through UK government intervention, allowing students to apply to universities using their predicted grades. This, however, still leaves it too late for some of them to find university places for this year. Note that the IBO has refused to allow IB students to do the same, putting them at a significant disadvantage.
SO CLOSE TO ACHIEVING HER DREAM!
For the past 2 years, Paula, now 18, has put her heart and soul into her dream of studying medicine in the UK.
Based in Geneva, she worked incredibly hard and was 100% dedicated to her studies. She passed the UCAT (medical school admissions exam) with a very good score.
She secured offers from 3 top UK universities after gruelling personal interviews.
She had to choose two universities as her top choices, discarding all other offers, including offers from Canada, confident that one of these would work out based on her performance to date and her exam results. She was very near to achieving her dream.
COVID_19: ‘WE TOLD HER THE IB RESULTS WOULD BE FAIR.’
Then the pandemic hit and she was devastated at not being able to sit the exams and having the opportunity to reap the benefits of her dedicated studies.
We assured her that the IB results for 2020 would be fair and that her dream would not be shattered, believing that there would be leniency in such a difficult time!
We were not prepared for the shock of results that had nothing in common with Paula’s consistent performance during the past two years.
She kept saying: “These are not my results!”
Due to what was first called an algorithm and then ‘standardised grades’, my daughter dropped 6 points (some students dropped as much as 12 points!) and no longer had the grade in Chemistry she needed to qualify for medicine at her two elected universities. She now faces no place in any university and having to start all over again.
As widely reported in the UK, Paula’s case is hardly unique and particularly affects Science and Maths candidates in smaller schools, as well as students in the 37 to 42 point brackets – in other word: top achievers! Small schools appear to have been particularly disadvantaged too.
The algorithm/standardised grades system has not been fully made public, so no-one is clear as to why these students have been affected in this way. IBO’s consistent claim in a universal press statement is that the process was “fair and robust.” There has been no acknowledgement that any children have been disadvantaged.
(Since then the IBO after a huge outcry from parents and teachers amended the appeals process somewhat, but to date my daughter has not received a reply to the appeals. Confusing further amendments resulted in some students being awarded additional points – but weirdly, not those, like my daughter at the top, who needed the points! It appears the latest changes relate to allowing students to apply based on their IA results – internal assessments marked by external examiners, i.e. not predicted grades from their own teachers.
STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN!
Since Monday (results day), Paula has not left the house. She is totally devastated and can’t understand why this is happening and how she could have come so close, only to lose everything.
We, as parents, don’t know how to help her. How do we motivate a child, who has given everything, only to robbed of the results of her hard work by an unfair system?
Paula’s only option appears to be to re-sit not only the UCAT, but also ‘retake’ the exam in November – hoping to achieve a place in 2021 – so, to start all over again and miss out on a year of her education.
PERSONAL APPEALS TO IBO IGNORED
Our personal appeals to the senior management at the IBO have fallen on deaf ears and there has been zero acknowledgement anywhere in any of the media from them that some children may have been disadvantaged. (This is still the case 6 weeks after results have been released.)
Their official statement says the process was ‘robust and fair.’ This is a hard pill to swallow for young adults like Paula, who now have no hope of achieving their dreams anytime soon!
SADLY, I believe any further action, including two potential class action legal cases, may be too late for this year’s IB students, but at the very least our experience this year should act as a warning for parents considering the IB diploma for their children in the future!