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High marks for the IB: The role of the examiners in the grading process

Merav Yuravlivker is an Examiner Recruitment and Training, Associate Manager at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Academia Cotopaxi in Quito, Ecuador.

As an IB alum, it amazes me that examiners, despite their disparate geography and cultures, can objectively grade exams for IB students around the world. My Extended Essay on the justification for the Israeli Six Day War may have been graded by a teacher in Kenya or California or Australia; my Language A essay on an excerpt from the Life of Pi could have been read by a teacher in India, Japan or Argentina. With schools in 147 countries and Language A courses in 55 languages, including Urdu, Sesotho, Latvian and Tagalog, it is no small task to keep track of and grade all the Extended Essays, external assessments and digital portfolios that students complete every year.

So how does the IB pull off such a colossal operation in a relatively short span of time? Coordinators send examinations either to one of our two scanning centres or directly to the Global Assessment Centre in Cardiff, Wales. These days the vast majority of student material sent for assessment is stored digitally. Gone are the days when paper exams were distributed by mail to our examiners, who hand-scored exams that would inevitably amass in their kitchen and living room corners. The IB has transformed the grading process into a digital dream that has improved quality assurance, increased scalability, and positively impacted the environment. Most examiners simply log on to our online system and start grading.

Examiners

The IB  Diploma Programme is rapidly expanding in locations such as Ecuador, Chicago and Japan and the IB is determined to maintain the high academic standards that distinguish its four rigorous and challenging programmes. This could not be accomplished without the thousands of teachers who dedicate their time as examiners to assess candidate materials. Examiners participate in examiner training, receive graduate credits, connect with other international educators, and see student work from around the world. In addition to getting compensated for their time, many examiners feel more confident in the classroom and better prepared to guide their students through the examination period. Being an examiner is essentially paid professional development that benefits the educational community as a whole.

In order to become an IB examiner, the candidate must possess:

  • At least one year of teaching experience with students at appropriate ages (16 and above for the Diploma Programme, 14 – 16 for MYP)
  • A bachelor’s degree (or equivalent in the subject or a related subject)
  • Access to high speed internet
  • A complete application that includes two professional references, one of which should be a supervisor or Head of school

The IB also recruits senior examiners, whose role is to oversee the academic rigour of the subject as a whole.  Senior examiners ensure that IB standards are maintained from year to year.

Nothing underscores the internationality and integrity of IB programmes more than the ability of an IB examiner to grade the same paper fairly and impartially, from anywhere in the world. Throughout my time as an IB student, my teachers emphasized the importance of understanding global perspectives; now, as an employee for the International Baccalaureate, I have the opportunity to see this mantra put into action firsthand. I am now more confident than ever that I received my marks fairly, and it is our duty as educators to ensure that any IB alum can say the same.

For more information about the positions and how to apply, you can go to www.ibo.org/examiners

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