IB pass rate decreases from past years


IB freshmen work on a group annotation of “The Storm” in English class.


The IB class of 2019 saw a pass rate of 85% this past year, a rate unprecedented in previous years and 9% lower than the class of 2018. Hillsborough’s IB program has not seen a pass rate below 90% since 2012. However, this year’s class still beat both the US average of 67% and the global average of 78%.  

IB students must receive 24 diploma points out of 45 in order to receive an IB diploma. They also must pass all higher-level courses and complete CAS, Extended essay (EE), and Theory of Knowledge (TOK) requirements. 

The main reason that many students did not receive their IB diploma came down to low pass rates in a few subjects. Higher level (HL) art had the lowest, with only 35% of students passing. Standard level biology and higher-level economics also saw unusually low pass rates of 67% and 65% respectively.

As a result of last year’s pass rate, a few changes are being made in order to ensure that any problems are corrected. One of the main focuses for this year will be HL art. Some students who were previously taking HL art were switched to HL biology in the hopes that they would be better prepared to pass this exam. IB teachers and administration also accessed feedback from the IBO to determine what went wrong with last year’s exams. However, the feedback proved inconclusive as to specific problems. “If you’re not getting concrete feedback and there are still question marks, something else need to be done,” IB guidance counselor Leslie Morter said.

As for HL Economics, the focus will be the internal assessments which students complete during their senior year “When you get that close to something, it may just be a couple students that we could’ve pushed a little harder,” IB coordinator Trisha Fitzgerald said.

Certain general issues that may have contributed to last year’s pass rate will also be addressed by IB staff and administration. “One of the main issues I talked about with teachers was accountability,” Fitzgerald said. Students will be encouraged to use their JA’s wisely, receive and respond to feedback from teachers, turn in work on time, and attend school regularly. Fitzgerald also plans to be more involved in making sure teachers are teaching a way that is understandable to students.

Another major update coming to the IB program this year will be the way mock exams are conducted. Fitzgerald plans to proctor the exams herself, creating a schedule of exams for different subjects. The exams will be conducted throughout the second semester in the media center. “Anytime you can put someone in a testing environment similar to what they actually experience, they’re going to benefit.” Morter said.

Some current IB students felt that the pass rate was not particularly surprising. “I’m honestly not surprised,” senior Dalia Sanchez said. “A lot of IB students aren’t very motivated and many aren’t putting in as much effort as they used to.” Fitzgerald and other IB staff felt similarly. There are certain predictors, including AP European History and AP US History pass rates and unweighted GPA which are used to determine predicted IB results. These predictors for last year’s class showed a predicted pass rate very similar to the actual pass rate. 

On the whole, Fitzgerald feels that that current IB classes must use their time wisely in order to prepare for IB exams and avoid repeating history. “Everyone needs to really focus on why they committed to this program, and realize the end result is to come out with an IB diploma,” Fitzgerald said. “We can’t lose sight of that.”