The IB Five Year Review - Experiences at Scotts Valley High School

David Crawford
IB Diploma Program Coordinator

The IBO has significantly altered the requirements for a school undertaking the Five-Year Review. Instead of a few short reports and evaluations, the task has grown to be the near-equivalent of a WASC accreditation process. In 2008-2009, SVHS completed its first self-study report and passed the review cycle with commendations about our process. This short narrative is designed to show how we were successful and offer a few tips for other schools.


SVHS is fortunate to have 90 minutes of scheduled professional development every week. We used 12 of these sessions for the group work in discussing, evaluating and writing the major portions of the self-study. In addition, the school's principal and IB Coordinator met to review the group reports and to write the summary of findings over a period of 10 hours. Finally, the IB Coordinator worked for approximately 40 hours to plan the group meetings, edit or write summary reports, collect the evidence, and digitally upload the documents to the IBO.

One key to our success was front-loading the review schedule. It was not done on an ad-hoc basis but rather as a deliberate plan of action. An approximate monthly timeline for our study may be found below. SVHS is a northern hemisphere, May-session school.

September Initial planning with administrative team and IB teachers (5 hours)
October Section C IB Group self-study and reporting (4 x 1.5 hours)
December Section C Interdisciplinary Team self-study and reporting (4 x 1.5 hours)
February Section A, B, and D Focus Group self-study and reporting (4 x 1.5 hours)
March Principal and IB Coordinator Summary Report (10 hours)
April IB Coordinator edit or write reports, collect evidence, and upload documents (35 hours)

Self-Study Report

First, let's look at the self-study report itself. The school must evaluate and rate itself in four major sections, A to D, with each section having its own set of standards.

Section A: Philosophy
A1 There is close alignment between the educational beliefs and values of the school and those of the programme.
A2 The school promotes international-mindedness on the part of the adults and of the students in the school community.
Section B: Organization
B1 The school demonstrates ongoing commitment to, and provides support for, the programme through appropriate administrative structures and systems, staffing, and resources.
Section C: Curriculum
C1 A comprehensive, coherent written curriculum, based on the requirements of the programme and developed by the school, is available to all sections of the school community.
C2 The school has implemented a system through which all teachers plan and reflect in collaborative teams.
C3 Teaching and learning at the school empowers and encourages students to become lifelong learners, to be responsible towards themselves, their learning, other people, and the environment, and to take appropriate action.
C4 There is an agreed approach to assessment and to the recording and reporting of assessment data, that reflects the practices and requirements of the programme.
Section D: The Student
D1 Students learn to choose to act, and to reflect on their actions, so that they contribute to their own well-being and those of the community and of the environment.
D2 In the final year of the programme, all students complete a programme-specific project that allows them to demonstrate the extension and the development of their learning in the Diploma Programme (Extended Essay).

SVHS decided to tackle Section C first, and we took the entire first semester to do this. Section C first must be evaluated by each of the six IB Subject Groups, in addition to TOK. SVHS only included the subject teachers in each group and did not ask parents, students or other stakeholders to participate in the Section C evaluation. After the IB Subject Groups finished reporting, an interdisciplinary team made up of one member of each subject group plus the IB Coordinator must take into account the group findings to create a final evaluation. They must also write the narrative reports for Section C. This is an important step to help create one overall set of findings for strengths and areas of growth. It is also important to remove the less-noteworthy teacher concerns that may arise in the subject group findings.

Early in the second semester, focus groups for Sections A, B, and D met simultaneously to evaluate their respective sections and write the narrative reports. These groups were made up of students, parents, teachers, site administrators, counselors, and school board members. The students and parents have valuable insight into the program and their role is vital. Having board members take and active role has allowed them to see the inner workings of the Diploma program and has helped to create strong advocates of IB on our board of trustees. This support has been vital in allowing us to weather the current budget crisis. It should also be noted that the IB Coordinator recused himself from the focus groups in order to promote discussion and create a more unbiased report.

At the beginning of each section there is a series of questions that require a detailed narrative for the response. We asked each focus group to write these reports rather than the IB Coordinator. We also asked each group to determine and discuss our strengths, areas for growth, and plan to achieve this growth. These components were essential for a genuine bottom-up review and an honest evaluation of our current needs.

The principal and IB Coordinator Summary Report took about 10 hours of work. Because our principal was involved in many stages of the self study, this was a straightforward process. It is extremely important to have a clear vision and avoid politicizing the summary report.


SVHS provided the following evidence as digital documents. The majority of these are required by the IBO while a few items were included for thoroughness.

Appendix 1 – Current and Proposed Budget
Appendix 2 – IB Subjects Offered
Appendix 3 – Attendance at IB Workshops and Conferences
Appendix 4 – 5 Year Exam Results

Summary Report on Recommendations of Previous Review or Authorizing Visit

Summary Report on School's IB Statistics (student and course)

School IB Language Policy
School IB Assessment Policy

CAS Program Questionnaire (CAS/PQ form)
CAS Handbook
Extended Essay Handbook

Facilities Map and Description

Description and Timeline for Completing the IB Five-Year Review
Timetable and Schedule Description, Analysis of Time Allocation

Organizational Flowchart
School Board Members
Staff Profiles
Staff Involvement as IB Examiners, Moderators, and Workshop Leaders
Training Summaries and Schedules (if different than Appendix 3)
Diploma Program Coordinator's Job Description

Internal Calendars of IB Assessments

School Mission Statement and ESLRs
School Profile
School Brochure
Summary of School Services
School IB Brochure
Course Catalog
Four-Year Plan of Study

All IB Schools are required to have an IB Language Policy and an IB Assessment Policy. If a school already has these documents, they should be reviewed by administration and staff as part of the evaluation. SVHS did not have these policy documents at the start of the Five-Year Review and they were written as part of the process. This took approximately 10 hours out of the 35 hours of work in April. In our case, the IB Coordinator reviewed sample documents from around the world and then wrote the policies. These documents were then reviewed by administration as staff as part of our monthly IB Staff meetings.

Final Reporting

The final Self-Study Report and evidence are uploaded to the IBO's site maintained by Ecampuspro. We converted all documents to .pdf format to simplify the upload. The actual process of uploading was very straightforward and we had no issues.

As the last part of our review, the full report was presented to our SVHS School Advisory Council. We would advise a formal presentation to a school governance body as a way of promoting the IB within the community. In our case, the Five-Year Review provided us with a comprehensive list of strengths and areas of growth. More importantly, we have developed the plans of action for the next few years in working on our areas of growth. We now have the road map forward.

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