All against all competition: the incorporation of the International Baccalaureate in public high schools in Canada

Julia Resnik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Since the 1980s, education in Canada has been through a process that led to school choice, targeting the improvement of students’ performance through school competition. These policies fostering an education quasi-market became an ideal framework for the expansion of IB schools. Since the Diploma Programme of the International Baccalaureate (IBDP) offers a differentiated international curriculum and is perceived as a program that contributes to students’ achievements, it has been increasingly adopted in school districts and schools. This paper explores the marketing strategies developed in schools and districts in response to school competition by tracing the incorporation of the IBDP in high schools in different districts in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Based on interviews with school staff, district officials and IB local association representatives, this study analyzes schools’ marketing decisions from a consumer and producer orientation taking into account the macro environment (federal government) and micro-environment (provincial government and districts). Rather than fostering efficiency and improving students’ achievement as intended, marketization policies resulted in an increased focus on the recruitment of high achieving students, which led to a competition between schools, between districts and between other programs in the districts or in other words –an ‘all against all’ competition.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)315-336
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • International Baccalaureate
  • School choice
  • marketing strategies
  • school competition


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