From Frustration to Understanding: Utilising May 2020 results to improve curriculum and student engagement for the 2020-21 school year.

On July 5, 2020, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) released your May 2020 Results. There is enormous confusion in the IB community and in some cases frustration and unhappiness regarding how these scores were derived.  The landscape rapidly changed towards a more positive direction on August 17th, 2020 when IB announced an update to how scores were calculated for 2020. Feedback from this update has proven to be a step in the right direction and overall good news for students. Though schools and students might be in a better place now, there is still a lack of overall clarity for how scores were awarded this year. The current setting provides schools with an ideal opportunity to improve outcomes for all students. This post will cover: Considerations moving forward and supports moving forward.

Considerations Moving Forward

#1: The Internal Assessment (IA) is Very Important:  It is important for teaching teams to gain a deep understanding of student performance on the one variable that classroom teachers have the most control over. Thus:

  • Request your scored IAs from the IB.
  • Engage in teacher-led professional development with grades 9-12 teams to reflect on practice and how to empower students with clear feedback for improved performance in the next session. 

In addition, our statistical analysis finds that student IA performance is a reliable predictor of student success in other areas of IB assessment.

#2: Accurate Predicted Grades are Very Important: If May 2020 has taught our schools anything it is that shifting from discussions of conservative or generous predictions to accurate predictions is essential for IB curriculum teams. First, our practice encourages teams to analyze accuracy of predicted grades as an indication of teacher understanding of IB assessment criteria.  Thus, if predictions are consistently accurate then we know that students are receiving accurate classroom feedback that improves the development of IB intellectual skills. The opposite is true as well: historically inaccurate predicted grades are an indicator of significant distance between classroom practice and IB course aims. 

The road forward in these challenging times is to bring ourselves to closer alignment with IB course expectations by developing a deeper understanding of IB course aims and assessment criteria in terms of your actual student performance. The key is to have a systematic approach that empowers teachers to gain a deeper understanding of their curriculum in action and to focus their feedback to students.

Supports Moving Forward

How to start?: The IB School Improvement’s Data Visualization Tool will provide you with detailed insight to how your scores were awarded in 2020. This will empower your teams with actionable feedback to achieve the goals described above. This analysis will provide you with historical data to understand your team’s accuracy in predicting students results from 2016 to 2020. In addition, this tool will indicate exactly how your May 2020 scores were scaled.

Professional Development: IB School Improvement has already trained over 300 educators this summer through their free professional development initiative in July. ManageBac is partnering with IB School Improvement to offer more free professional development sessions in August and September that will address: IB in the Time of Covid 19 – What has happened and the Road Forward, Focus on the Internal Assessment – Learning from the Past and Strategies Moving Forward, and Predicting Grades – Linking IB Expectations to Assessment. These sessions will also focus on using the data to support teams with curriculum reduction, to help teachers focus on the highest leverage areas of their curriculum.


The end of the past school year posed significant challenges to all of us. These challenges, however, provide an opportunity to reflect and improve practice for our students. Thankfully IB has already taken steps to help create better outcomes for our students. Schools can also utilize this time as an opportunity to focus on assessment outcomes that have the greatest impact. Based on how IB derived scores this year, IA scores are extremely important, as well as your history of predicting grades. Schools that have a deep understanding of IA assessment criteria and a good track record of predicting grades, fared the best this summer. It is beneficial to request your scored IAs from the IB and engage in teacher-led professional development. Additionally, developing a plan on how to better align predicted grades with actual IB course aims and assessment criteria is beneficial. The future may still be uncertain, but with planning and development of staff we can create a more sustainable model for student learning, regardless of environment. IB School Improvement is eager to partner with you on this path.