PATERSON, NJ  – Paterson Public Schools officials are celebrating the academic success of the 46 members of the International High School Class of 2020, notably 25 that were vying for the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Program Diploma.

Of these students, Superintendent Eileen Shafer announced Monday, three graduates have received notification that they met the “rigorous requirements” required to attain the distinction of IB graduate while 14 IB students passed the IB Mandarin exam and nine IB students passed the IB World Religions exam – one with a perfect score.

This year’s IB Diploma recipients are:

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Additionally, Class of 2020 graduate Fabeha Choudhury earned a perfect score on the exam for IB World Religions, a course that was offered for the first time in the 2019-2020 school year.

Shafer spoke of the perseverance of the students, offering that “because of the pandemic, these students did not have the benefit of seeing their teachers every day. Some of them went through weeks without the technology they needed until we could provide them with a device.” Despite the challenges, Shafer added, the students did not waver in their “pursuit of excellence,” and were successful in large measure the support of their parents and families, as well as their teachers and administrators. 

With classrooms shuttered since mid-March, the students faced even greater difficulties earning the IB Diploma, Principal of the IB Program at International High School Catherine Forfia-Dion pointed out. “Because they couldn’t take the required exams, the students had fewer scoring opportunities,” she said. “They were evaluated primarily on course assessments, the extended essay and oral exams as well as the other requirements they were able to complete before school buildings closed.”

Forfia-Dion shared that the pandemic brought some hardships that were particular for individual students. For example, Cindy Munoz was completing her IB Diploma requirements on a smart phone until she was provided with a Chromebook on April 21. The principal also commended the teachers in the IB program for providing the students the support they needed to succeed in the program.

To earn an IB diploma, a student in the IB program must take six exams in different subject areas during the junior and senior years of high school, and score a minimum of 24 total points. Each exam has a maximum score of 7 points. An IB diploma also requires a student to have completed an extended essay, the Theory of Knowledge course, as well as a Creativity, Action and Service project. One to three bonus points can be added for completion of the Theory of Knowledge course and the Creativity, Action and Service project. The extended essay and the exams are graded externally by the IB worldwide organization.

The highest possible score for an IB diploma is 45 points. Candidates can earn 45 points by getting the highest score of seven on all six of the required exams (for a total of 42 points), plus getting another three bonus points for the extended essay and the Theory of Knowledge course.

The three IB Program graduates are the latest to earn the IB Diploma since Amaya Perez became the district’s first IB Diplomas recipient in 2019. Two students who missed qualifying for the IB the diploma by 1-2 points who will be reevaluated in May 2021 while five students from the Class of 2019 who narrowly missed qualifying and were originally scheduled to be reevaluated in May will now be reevaluated in November.

International High School is the only school in Passaic County, and only one of 17 schools in New Jersey, to offer the IB Program. The other schools are Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, Biotechnology High School in Freehold, Donovan Catholic in Toms River, East Side High School in Newark, Howell High School in Farmingdale, Fort Lee High School, Freehold Township High School, Linden High School, Morris Knolls High School in Rockaway, Newark Academy in Livingston, Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver, Salem High School, Science Park High School in Newark, Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch, West Morris Central High School in Chester and West Morris Mendham High School in Mendham.

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