Academy, AP & IB Comparison

Characteristics Academy & Pathways Advanced Placement IB Diploma

Academy schools were developed in the 1980s to deliver a balanced learning approach that combines AP-based curriculum with real-life career pathways.

AP was developed in the 1950s in the U.S. to help high school students prepare for college by taking advanced courses.

IB was developed in the 1960s in Switzerland to be an internationally recognized diploma.


Students have the option to enrich their core academic experience with advanced Academy learning, honors, AP, and concurrent and dual enrollment coursework. There are four different Academies focused on Arts, Business, Health and Science.

Within this Academy structure, students have access to 14 different Pathways that delve deeper into specific yet complementary disciplines.

Students can take as many AP classes in high school as they like. Each AP exam is scored on a 1 to 5 scale. Scores of 3 or higher are typically granted college credit.

The IB Diploma Program is a 2 year (11th & 12th grade) program. Courses are either standard level (1 or 2 years of study & an IB exam in each course) or higher level (2 years of study & IB exam in each course). Students must earn 24 points (based on exam of 1 to 7 and an extended essay) to receive an IB Diploma. 129 courses in 6 core subject areas.

Curriculum Flexibility

Yes - Students can select which Academies and Pathways they enroll into in high school. Students can complete multiple Pathways and change their Pathways while in high school.

Yes - Students can select which AP classes they enroll into in high school.

No - Prescribed curriculum for IB diploma.

College Credit

Yes - Students can earn college credits in any of the following three ways:

1) AP coursework.

2) Concurrent enrollment coursework. (Currently available through Red Rocks and CU Denver.)

3) Dual enrollment coursework. (Currently available through Colorado Christian University. Working to add CU Denver to this program.)

Yes - Varies by college/university.

Yes - Varies by college/university.

Open Enrollment

Yes - Open to all students.

Yes - Open to all students.

No - Open only to students accepted into the program.

Career Exploration

Yes - Students have access to various learning opportunities outside of the classroom.

No - Academic focus only.

No - Academic focus only.

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