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Case Study 1

(PDF format)

Discovering Trends in Component Scores

In this case study, we show how our displays helped a school discover surprising trends in their History HL scores.
(Although the data presented are real, the name of the school and the subject have been changed.)

1. History HL - Overall Subject Scores

We begin by looking at the Subject Score display for History HL at Acadamigo International School. The display presents an overall picture of that subject at that school over the last five years.

History HL - Subject Score Display

Focusing on the graph in the upper left, one can see that the school's average subject score has hovered around 5.0 over the last five years.

History HL - Average Subject Score

The middle chart in the top row shows that the difference between the school's average and the world average has varied between -0.1 and -0.4 over the last five years.

History HL - School Avg. minus World Avg.

At the level of overall subject scores, then, History HL at this school is steady and not particularly noteworthy.

2. History HL - Internal Assessment Scores

Now let's investigate the component scores.

A student's overall score in History HL is based on four components: an internal assessment and three externally assessed papers.

The Internal Assessment display paints a picture of internal assessment scores that have moved rather dramatically over the last five years.

History HL - Internal Assessment Score Display

The IBO does not publish worldwide averages for component scores, so this display does not have a middle chart in the top row comparing the school's average internal assessment scores to world averages.

But the five years of data show a jump in this school's scores from 2010 to 2011, followed by a steady decline. From an average of 6.1 in 2011 to 4.8 in 2014.

History HL - Avg. Internal Assessment Score

Looking at the distributions of scores for each year at the bottom of the display, we see that the decline in the average is not because of a greater number of low-end scores, but rather because of the absence of high-end scores. In 2014, for instance, no student earned a 3, but also no student earned a 6 or 7.

History HL - Internal Assessment Score Distributions by Year

3. History HL - Paper Two

Finally, let's take a look at the score display for History HL, Paper Two.

History HL - Paper Two Score Display

Here we see a sharp drop in the average score from 2010 to 2011, followed by a steady increase — the very opposite of what we saw in the Internal Assessment scores.

History HL - Average Paper Two Score

While the average Internal Assessment score declined more than a point over the last three years, the average Paper Two score rose 1.8 points. From 3.8 in 2011 to 5.5 in 2014.

Furthermore, where no student at this school earned a 6 or 7 on the Internal Assessment in 2014, nearly 70% earned a 6 or 7 on Paper Two in that year.

History HL - Paper Two Score Distributions by Year

4. Conclusions

We've discovered that the rising scores on Paper Two were being offset by declining scores on the Internal Assessment, resulting in little change year-to-year in the average overall subject score.

These are trends worth knowing. The goal, of course, is to use insights gained from data to improve teaching and learning.

Teachers can use these insights to reflect on their teaching methods, to think about the amount of time they allot to various aspects of the syllabus, and even to reflect on how well they understand the IBO's expectations of students on each of the assessments.

Admittedly, variation in student scores might be more a result of the variation in abilities and aptitudes of the students enrolling each year than of anything teachers are doing or not doing. And it is important to remember that there's always a context surrounding scores.

But knowing that such trends exist is what leads to investigation, reflection, and productive conversations among colleagues.

And while we would hope that the History teachers at Acadamigo International were already aware of these contrasting trends, our experience tells us that they may not have been. Unless someone is helping your teachers organize and display their data clearly, it's actually quite easy to miss important trends.

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