What is the CAS When Earning an IB Diploma?

by Grace Dickins

Accepted by universities around the world and valued for its interdisciplinary curriculum, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB) assesses student strengths in six subjects. It also has three core requirements: Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS). Let's take a closer look at this requirement, along with how students can incorporate CAS into their busy schedules.

The CAS Experience

A well-rounded academic experience incorporates more than core subjects like math and English. CAS aims to promote student involvement in activities outside academic pursuits in order to achieve meaningful balance and enrichment.

The CAS rationale supports student-directed learning that encourages students to learn more about themselves, as well as the world around them. Additionally, CAS strives to help students develop positive character traits, such as initiative, perseverance, and critical thinking skills. Many IB students report their CAS experiences to be profoundly life-changing.

The CAS Structure

CAS includes three separate yet related threads. Each complements the program's academic requirements while providing students the increasingly important opportunity to learn through experience. CAS's three components are

1. Creativity

Any experiences, such as art, music, or creative writing, which promote creative thinking outside the normal curriculum fall under this umbrella. These must be goal-driven, showing the ability to plan, reflect, and measure success.

2. Activity

This element, which includes physical activities, is aimed at promoting healthy behaviors and encouraging the adoption of an active lifestyle.

3. Service

This includes unpaid volunteer work designed to help students connect and make a difference within their own communities and others.

Each student is required to take on a CAS Project in order to demonstrate understanding of these essential concepts.

Documenting CAS

While CAS documentation involves no formal assessment and varies from school to school, all programs require formal proof-typically in the form of a signature-of the completion of each activity. Students are also expected to keep records of their hours and involvement in order to comprehensively document their experiences.

Failure to complete CAS and/or provide adequate evidence of its completion may result in failure for the entire IB program. However, students can finish the program during the following year in order to receive their diplomas.

The IB's mission is to "develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect." CAS is an integral part of this mission. While fulfilling the CAS requirement can also enrich a student's college application and future job marketability, its value far exceeds this. CAS teaches students to use their time and talents not just for their own advantage, but also for the greater good.