Skip To Main Content

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Newport Harbor start the IB program?

Newport Harbor’s philosophy is to offer the best education we can.  We do a very good job at that; our curriculum is one of the richest in the county.  But there is something extra the IB philosophy offers our students.  The IB program asks students to take a number of rigorous classes, but it also asks them to do more. 

They must take a Theory of Knowledge class which explores the topic of knowledge itself: how we acquire it, how we evaluate it, and how we measure the validity of knowledge.  This class looks at each area of knowledge: language, science, math, art, etc., and explores the strengths and weaknesses of each discipline in regards to increasing our knowledge. 

Diploma candidates must also complete a 4000 word in-depth research paper, fully cited.  This paper allows students to explore a topic of their own choice. 

Finally, diploma candidates complete a CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) requirement, in which they document and journal their community service activities, their progress in physical activities, and their creative side. 

Taken as a whole, the IB Diploma offers a rigorous educational experience rarely found in other programs.  It is our hope that the IB concept of “seeing the big picture” will influence all our classes, whether IB or not.

Where and why did IB start?
The International Baccalaureate  organization (IBO) was started by a group of dedicated teachers, including many Americans, at an international school in Geneva in 1968. Since international schools are not tied to a particular country or state, they wanted to develop standards and a curriculum that would meet university requirements around the world. They also wanted a curriculum which centered on critical thinking, open-mindedness and “big picture” thinking.

What’s required for an IB diploma?
Six IB classes, one in each subject area, an extended essay (4000 words), a Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) component, and a Theory of Knowledge class, all to be completed in the 11th and 12th grades. Three of the IB classes must be HL (higher level), three may be SL (standard level).

What’s the difference between HL and SL?
HL classes are very rigorous and always two-year classes. SL classes are less rigorous; some may be completed in one year. Like AP, all IB classes terminate in assessments written and graded by the IB organization.

What about college credit for HL and SL classes?
All colleges are different, but in general individual HL classes receive college credit, SL classes usually do not. However, this is only part of the picture. The full IB diploma can earn a lot of college credit. The UC system, for example, gives 20 semester units (30 quarter units) for a diploma with a reasonably good score (30 out of a possible 45).

Is IB intended to replace AP?
No.  We are following the model of the numerous high schools in our country that offer both programs and that have seen enrollment grow in both AP and IB classes.  In the schools that have been successful at this, the rich academic tradition of AP and the philosophy of the IB work together synergistically to create a deeper, campus-wide academic culture.

Do IB candidates at Newport Harbor also take AP classes?
Yes. Most of our HL classes have at least one AP class included. For example, HL Math includes AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC, and SL math includes AP Calculus AB. Most IB Diploma Program candidates will take AP classes as sophomores; either AP World History or AP European History, AP English Language, and possibly AP Computer Science. There is also sometimes room in the diploma candidates’ schedules to take an extra AP as seniors. Thus the typical IB Diploma Program candidate could also get credit for six or more AP classes.

What training is required to teach IB?
No one is allowed to teach an IB class without taking an intensive 3-4 day training course. Approximately 30 Newport Harbor staff members have received IB training.


For more information about IB at NHHS, contact Ms. DiGiorgio.

Zone Transfers

Incoming ninth graders who live in the NHHS zone apply during course selection in the spring. 

Incoming NMUSD ninth graders who do not live in the NHHS zone apply through the district 
NHHS sophomoresinterested in the IB Diploma Program apply online

Sophomores from other schools and/or districtsshould contact the NHHS IB Coordinator for application information: Alma DiGiorgio, IB Coordinator, at