IB Program Info for Juniors

Coordinator's Message

Dear Juniors & Parents/Guardians,

Juniors will be signing up for their senior year courses soon! The purpose of this newsletter is to give you some information about the IB Program and hopefully answer some frequently asked questions. IB courses are an option for students in their junior and senior years. These courses are rigorous, collegiate-level courses that are designed to prepare students for success in a global world.

Below, you will find resources you can explore as you decide which courses you'd like to take next year. We have some exciting potential new course offerings for 2022-23!

I can be available for meetings, or please email me with questions: jnormile@mcs.k12.ny.us

Mrs. Jan Normile

IB Program Coordinator

Click here to go to Massena High School's IB Website



If there is enough student interest, these may be offered for the first time in Fall 2022!

Sports, Exercise & Health Science SL

This course explores the science underpinning physical performance and provides the opportunity to apply these principles. The course incorporates the disciplines of anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, psychology and nutrition. Students cover a range of core and option topics, and carry out experimental investigations in both laboratory and field settings. This course is good preparation for courses in college related to sports fitness and health, and serves as useful preparation for employment in sports and leisure industries.

Theatre SL

This course gives students the opportunity to make theatre as creators, designers, directors and performers. It emphasizes the importance of working both individually and as part of an ensemble. It offers the opportunity to engage actively in the creative process of inquiring, developing, presenting and evaluating. Students have the opportunity to study play texts and formulate a vision for the design and theoretical staging of the entire play text for an audience. Students also collaboratively create and perform an original piece of theatre created from a starting point of their choice. The piece is presented to an audience as a fully-realized production.

Environmental Systems & Societies SL

This course is both a scientific exploration of environmental systems and in the exploration of cultural, economic, ethical, political and social interactions of societies with the environment. As a result of studying this course, students will become equipped with the ability to recognize and evaluate the impact of our complex system of societies on the natural world. Topics studied include ecosystems/ecology, biodiversity, conservation, water and soil systems, and climate change.


These courses are offered in 1 year, so juniors can take these courses their senior year.

Psychology SL

The IB Diploma Program standard level psychology course aims to develop an awareness of how research findings can be applied to better understand human behavior and how ethical practices are upheld in psychological inquiry. Students learn to understand the biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behavior and explore alternative explanations of behavior.

This course is a dual-credit course. For an additional fee, students can earn up to three transferrable college credits through SUNY Potsdam's College in High School Program.

Biology SL

Biology is the study of life. By studying biology in the Diploma Program, students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. Students have opportunities to design investigations, collect data, develop manipulative skills, analyze results, collaborate with peers and evaluate and communicate their findings.

Students will study:

1. Cell biology

2. Molecular biology

3. Genetics

4. Ecology

5. Evolution and biodiversity

6. Human physiology

7. Neurobiology

Physics SL

Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences as it seeks to explain the universe itself, from the very smallest particles to the vast distances between galaxies. Besides helping us better understand the natural world, physics gives us the ability to alter our environments. This raises the issue of the impact of physics on society, the moral and ethical dilemmas, and the social, economic and environmental implications of the work of physicists.

Students study:

1. Measurements and uncertainties

2. Mechanics

3. Thermal physics

4. Waves

5. Electricity and magnetism

6. Circular motion and gravitation

7. Atomic, nuclear and particle physics

8. Energy production

9. Engineering physics

Mathematics Applications & Interpretations SL (Statistics)

The IB DP Mathematics: applications and interpretation course recognizes the increasing role that mathematics and technology play in a diverse range of fields in a data-rich world. As such, it emphasizes the meaning of mathematics in context by focusing on topics that are often used as applications or in mathematical modelling. To give this understanding a firm base, this course includes topics that are traditionally part of a pre-university mathematics course such as calculus and statistics. Students are encouraged to solve real-world problems, construct and communicate this mathematically and interpret the conclusions or generalizations.

Students will study the following topics:

1. Number Algebra

2. Functions and equations

3. Geometry and trigonometry

4. Statistics and probability

5. Calculus

This course is a dual-credit course. For an additional fee, students can earn up to three transferrable college credits through Paul Smith's College.

Music SL

The IB Diploma Program standard level music course seeks to develop students’ knowledge and potential as musicians, both personally and collaboratively. IB Diploma Program music students are required to study musical perception and actively listen to a wide range of music from different parts of the world, musical cultures and time periods. They also develop aural perception and understanding of music by learning about musical elements, including form and structure, notations, musical terminology and context. Through the course of study, students become aware of how musicians work and communicate.


This presentation is geared toward Sophomores, but it gives an overview of the Program.

IB Program Sophomore Presentation Video


What are the requirements of an IB course?

Certain courses are to be completed in one year, while others are to be completed in two years. At the end of each course, students will be required to take the IB examination. The examinations occur over a three week period in May. In addition to exams, there are also mandatory internal assessments (IAs) that occur throughout the year.

Please note two important practices we have instituted to ensure that students maintain the high level of effort needed to be successful:

  • Students must complete all requirements of the first year of study in order to move on to the second year of study. This includes IAs, final exams, projects and any other assessment given by the first year teacher.

  • At the end of the first 5 weeks of course, a student’s progress will be evaluated. If insufficient effort or achievement is evident, a conference will be scheduled and the student will be placed on probation for 5 weeks. If improvement is not seen at the end of this probationary period, the student may be removed from the course.

Can a student receive college credit for an IB course?

Each college has its own policies when it comes to granting college credit. Therefore, I always suggest that a student contact the admissions department of the college to get specific answers. The IB has worked diligently to gather information on many universities, so you can also go to this website: http://www.ibo.org/recognition/university/index.cfm and search for the particular college you are interested in.

What does "dual-credit" mean?

Some of our IB courses have been approved to be offered for college credit (as long as the student has at least a C average in the course). This is because the course curricula is definitely college-level. For an additional fee paid directly to the college, students can receive a transcript with the course and grade. This transcript can then be presented to the student's choice of college to see if they will accept the credits. The student does NOT have to attend the college that the credit is offered through.

This is something we offer to students as a way to get the college credit because it does not depend on the student's IB score on exams. It depends solely on their average in the course.

The college-credit fees are in addition to the IB exam fees, but are considerably less than the cost would be as a full-time student.

Here are the courses that are currently offered for dual-credit:

  • Spanish SL I (SUNY Potsdam)
  • Spanish SL II (SUNY Potsdam)
  • French SL I (SUNY Potsdam)
  • French SL II (SUNY Potsdam)
  • Psychology SL (SUNY Potsdam)
  • Biology HL I (Paul Smith's College)
  • Biology HL II (Paul Smith's College)
  • Math Analysis SL I / Pre-Calculus (Paul Smith's College)
  • Math Analysis SL II / Calculus (Paul Smith's College)
  • Math Applications SL (Paul Smith's College)

How much are the IB exam fees?

There is a sliding scale for fees. Refer to the image to the right.

The school district pays the remaining portion of the exam fee. If a student qualifies for free/reduced lunches, the school district will pay the entire exam fee as long as all the paperwork is filed with Food Services.

Does a student need to have straight 'A's to take an IB course?

No. It is our philosophy that any student that is interested in challenging themselves should be afforded the opportunity to do so. IB teachers value hard work, progress and growth over high grades. Some courses are sequential and do require successful completion of prerequisites. Talk with a Guidance Counselor or refer to the course handbook for more information.

What does an IB score mean?

A student’s overall IB score is based on their performance on external assessments (examinations/written assignments) and the IA. Students are rated on a scale from 1 to 7 points according to the following scale:

7 = Excellent
6 = Very Good
5 = Good
4 = Satisfactory
3 = Mediocre
2 = Poor
1 = Very poor