ISL High School Diploma

ISL offers a fully recognised US High School Diploma in addition to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, as ISL is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

The IB Diploma and the ISL High School Diploma are two separate qualifications. The IB Diploma is a more demanding programme, and students who successfully complete it are also awarded the ISL High School Diploma.  However, several students each year choose to focus their efforts on achieving the ISL High School Diploma only, rather than both qualifications simultaneously. Achieving greater success with a reduced range of courses that meets the requirements of the ISL High School Diploma is the correct choice for a number of our students. It involves taking individual courses that lead to the same final IB examinations, and results in a portfolio of official IB course results that are recognized by universities in combination with the ISL High School Diploma.

The ISL High School Diploma is sufficient for entry into 4-year universities in both the US and Canada, as well as US-style universities located in different parts of the world. If a student is interested in studying in the UK, then a foundation programme will be necessary after graduating from High School.

The requirements of the ISL High School Diploma

The course requirements for graduation with the ISL High School Diploma are as follows:

  • 4 years of a first language;
  • 4 years of mathematics;
  • 4 years of science;
  • 4 years of social science;
  • 2 years of a second language;
  • Completion of the Creativity Activity and Service (CAS) programme.

In order to receive an ISL High School Diploma, students must meet the following grade requirements:

  • In Year 10 and Year 11, as the first semester grade is a progress grade, students must achieve a final second semester grade of 3.0 or above in each of the subjects above
  • In Year 12 and Year 13, each year, students must achieve an average grade of 3.0 or above in each individual subject (taken as an average of the two semester reports).

Students who do not meet these requirements in an individual subject, but who are awarded a grade of 3.0 or above by the IB in that subject following the final IB Diploma Programme examinations, will receive an ISL High School Diploma awarded in July of their graduation year.

A High School Certificate is awarded to any students who do not meet the requirements of the ISL High School Diploma.

A comparison of the ISL High School Diploma requirements with the IB Diploma requirements

ISL High School Diploma requirements IB Diploma requirements
4 years of a first language (SL or HL) 6 subjects, 3 at Higher Level (HL), and 3 at Standard Level (SL)
4 years of mathematics (mathematical studies SL, SL or HL) No fewer than 24 points accumulated in those 6 subjects
4 years of science (SL or HL) Completion of a 4,000 word extended essay
4 years of social science (SL or HL) Study of Theory of Knowledge (TOK) for 100 hours during the course – this is an additional assessed class in the curriculum, with a final presentation and essay as outcomes
2 years of a second language (SL or HL) No “N”* awarded for TOK, the extended essay or for a contributing subject
Average ISL semester grade of 3.0 or above each year, in each of the subjects above No grade E awarded for TOK and/ or the extended essay
Completion of the CAS programme No grade 1 awarded in any subject/ level
  No more than 2 grade 2s awarded (HL or SL)
  No more than 3 grade 3s or below awarded (HL or SL)
  12 points or more on HL subjects
  9 points or more on SL subjects
  Official IB CAS requirements must be met

*An N is assigned by the IB when a grade is not possible due to requirements not being met - for example, when a subject component has not been submitted.

Summary of the advantages of an ISL High School Diploma over the IB Diploma

  • No requirement to take TOK;
  • No requirement to complete the extended essay;
  • Students can take 5 subjects rather than 6;
  • No requirement to take subjects at HL;
  • No requirement to meet the exacting standards of the IB Diploma (24 points in total across the subjects, no less than 12 points total in HL subjects, etc);
  • Additional study periods provide extra time to devote to challenging subjects;
  • As indicated above, a range of university and college options remain open with the ISL High School Diploma, and the academic counselling team is well able to advise on these options. They can also provide examples of a number of alumni who have successfully benefited from taking the ISL High School Diploma.
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