UK NARIC has recently completed an independent benchmarking study of the new Araratian Baccalaureate (AB). Comparability has been evaluated in relation to UK and US education systems.
The AB has been designed for the National Program for Educational Excellence (NPEE) in Armenia by the Ayb Educational Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Science, in collaboration with Cambridge and University College London (UCL). It is currently being piloted at the Ayb School in Yerevan, with a planned roll-out to schools across Armenia in the near future.
Designed to be offered to high-performing students, the programme covers the final three years of the 12-year Armenian comprehensive state school system, starting in Grade 10 and culminating in the award of the AB Diploma in Grade 12. The Diploma is intended to support progression to Higher Education, and legislation is currently under consideration to institute the Diploma in schools as a national university entrance qualification and give Diploma recipients priority admission to universities across Armenia.
In terms of its structure, a range of subjects are taught at two levels - Standard and Extended, including Armenian, English and Russian languages, humanities, social sciences and STEM subjects (mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics), with project-based learning now a compulsory and integral part of the programme. All students are also expected to complete physical education and healthy life style courses, as well as a range of Arts.
AB Standard and Extended STEM subjects are assessed using the Cambridge model of assessment. The NPEE has established the Araratian Baccalaureate Examination Center (ABEC) to administer Standard and Extended Level examinations. The AB Diploma is graded on a three grade basis (Honours, Merit and Standard), whilst individual STEM subjects are awarded a grade ranging from A* to E, with U indicating a fail grade.
UK NARIC’s study found the AB Diploma to provide a rigorous, yet balanced secondary education. A field review of AB programme delivery at the Ayb School highlighted effective teaching of a range of subject-specific skills as well as an emphasis on transferable skills including communication, team work, and critical and creative thinking, considered important for Higher Education readiness. STEM subjects are all taught and assessed in Armenian, however, AB students also study English language with a view to taking the IELTS and TOEFL tests in Grade 12, the results of which can enable progression onto Higher Education programmes in the UK and internationally.
Based on comparative analysis of key qualification components, the study found the AB Diploma comparable to the overall GCE A Level standard in the UK; with subjects passed at Extended Level, jointly certified by ABEC/Cambridge, considered comparable to GCE A Level on a subject-for-subject basis. Jointly-certified subjects at Standard Level can be considered comparable to the GCE AS Level on a subject-for-subject basis. In the context of the US education system, the study also found the AB to be comparable to the overall US Advanced Placement standard.