IB cancels testing for the CCSD class of 2021

The IB Organization deemed Clark County School District unable to administer exams come May 2021 as a result of ongoing COVID-19 cases in Nevada.

Isabel Hillers, News Editor

The International Baccalaureate Organization has officially canceled all exams for CCSD high school seniors, as announced onThursday, Feb. 11. 

IB is rolling out a “dual route” testing program for the 2021 exam session, which will see students in some areas of the world take the tests while others don’t. IB sent a survey to each school that asked if they felt they could have every student take the exams in person. Principals, coordinators and counselors from every IB high school in Clark County met together to discuss the survey and whether administering exams would be feasible. Everyone felt it just wasn’t possible, according to IB Coordinator Anthony Gebbia. 

“We all got together … with the district people, and we said, ‘Given the situation here in Las Vegas Clark County school, is it possible to do IB exams?’” Gebbia said. “I think everybody said logistically we could probably pull it off, but ethically, medically, it’s probably not a good idea. We certainly would not be able to get 100%of students to opt in.” 

Gebbia also talked to multiple parents and students, many of whom said they would not opt into taking IB tests because of COVID. IB is also requiring that a school is able to have every single student take their exams in person or they cannot happen at all. 

Exams were also canceled for the class of 2020. IB was quick to determine students’ final scores using their Internal Assessments, predicted final scores from teachers and historical data from the school. A similar grading system was implemented for last year’s graduating class. This makes Gebbia hopeful for this year’s session.

The exam cancellation has been favorable among many seniors as well. 

“I personally think it was a good idea for them to be canceled,” senior Samantha Newson said. “I know a lot of people, including myself, who struggle more with online school, and removing the IB tests takes a lot of weight off our shoulders. While it does put more emphasis on our IA assignments, I think they’re easier for us to accomplish at home.” 

Many students found themselves stressed about completing exams and felt the pressure placed upon them. 

“I think a lot of my fellow senior peers can say the same in that they feel relieved of the stress of no longer having exams,” IB senior Alan Tam said. “I felt pretty stressed because of the immense pressure that is put onto IB students. The tests were the deciding factor of whether these past four years would’ve been a waste or not.”

It is true that not having exams increases the importance of IAs, which are projects students complete throughout the year in all classes. This new exam route also requires that each assessment from every student be graded externally by teams working for IB rather than by the students’ teachers. 

Each IB student is also given a predicted grade from each of their teachers. This predicted grade is standard for the IB program and is a reflection of what final score the teacher thinks their student will receive based on their work in class. IB will now also take these scores more into account than before. 

“Teachers had to write a rationale for each score they give, and they need to predict your one to seven final grade,” Gebbia said. “That goes to IB, and then IB is going to use that plus historial data from the school. Now we have two years of exams. They’re going to look at all of that and assign results.”

 As for the rest of the year in IB classes, Gebbia has advised teachers to be more patient with students and help them improve their IA grades as appropriate.

“We communicated to teachers: ‘Look exams are off,’” Gebbia said. “‘We’ve told IB we cannot hold them. That means everything is about internal assessments. You need to support your kids like never before and make sure they focus and do their absolutely best work on this because it’s the whole ball game.’”