The Diploma Program aims to develop in students the knowledge, skills and attitudes they will need to fulfill the aims of the IB, as expressed in the organization's mission statement and the learner profile. Teaching and learning in the Diploma Program represent the reality in daily practice of the organization's educational philosophy.
The nature of creativity, activity, service
...if you believe in something, you must not just think or talk or write, but must act.
Creativity, activity, service (CAS) is at the heart of the Diploma Program. It is one of the three essential elements in every student's Diploma Program experience. It involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies throughout the Diploma Program.
The three strands of CAS, which are often interwoven with particular activities, are characterized as follows:
Arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
Physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the Diploma Program.
An unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student. The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected.
- real, purposeful activities, with significant outcomes
- personal challenge—tasks must extend the student and be achievable in scope
- thoughtful consideration, such as planning, reviewing progress, reporting
- reflection on outcomes and personal learning.
All proposed CAS activities need to meet these four criteria. It is also essential that they do not replicate other parts of the student's Diploma program work.
Concurrency of learning is important in the Diploma program. Therefore, CAS activities should continue on a regular basis for as long as possible throughout the program, and certainly for at least 18 months.
Successful completion of CAS is a requirement for the award of the IB diploma. CAS is not formally assessed but students need to document their activities and provide evidence that they have achieved eight key learning outcomes. A school's CAS program is regularly monitored by the relevant regional office.
The CAS program aims to develop students who are:
- reflective thinkers—they understand their own strengths and limitations, identify goals and devise strategies for personal growth
- willing to accept new challenges and new roles
- aware of themselves as members of communities with responsibilities towards each other and the environment
- active participants in sustained, collaborative projects
- balanced—they enjoy and find significance in a range of activities involving intellectual, physical, creative and emotional experiences.
Learning outcomes are differentiated from assessment objectives because they are not rated on a scale.
The completion decision for the school in relation to each student is, simply, "Have these outcomes been achieved?"
As a result of their CAS experience as a whole, including their reflections, there should be evidence that students have:
- Increased their awareness of their own strengths and areas for growth. They are able to see themselves as individuals with various skills and abilities, some more developed than others, and understand that they can make choices about how they wish to move forward.
- undertaken new challenges. A new challenge may be an unfamiliar activity, or an extension to an existing one.
- planned and initiated activities. Planning and initiation will often be in collaboration with others. It can be shown in activities that are part of larger projects, for example, ongoing school activities in the local community, as well as in small student‑led activities.
- worked collaboratively with others. Collaboration can be shown in many different activities, such as team sports, playing music in a band, or helping in a kindergarten. At least one project, involving collaboration and the integration of at least two of creativity, action and service, is required.
- shown perseverance and commitment in their activities. At a minimum, this implies attending regularly and accepting a share of the responsibility for dealing with problems that arise in the course of activities.
- engaged with issues of global importance. Students may be involved in international projects but there are many global issues that can be acted upon locally or nationally (for example, environmental concerns, caring for the elderly).
- considered the ethical implications of their actions. Ethical decisions arise in almost any CAS activity (for example, on the sports field, in musical composition, in relationships with others involved in service activities). Evidence of thinking about ethical issues can be shown in various ways, including journal entries and conversations with CAS advisers.
- developed new skills. As with new challenges, new skills may be shown in activities that the student has not previously undertaken, or in increased expertise in an established area.
All eight outcomes must be present for a student to complete the CAS requirement. Some may be demonstrated many times, in a variety of activities, but completion requires only that there is some evidence for every outcome.
This focus on learning outcomes emphasizes that it is the quality of a CAS activity (its contribution to the student's development) that is of most importance. The guideline for the minimum amount of CAS activity is approximately the equivalent of half a day per school week (three to four hours per week), or approximately 150 hours in total, with a reasonable balance between creativity, action and service. "Hour counting", however, is not encouraged.
Responsibilities of the student
Program standards and practices document states that students should have opportunities to choose their own CAS activities and to undertake activities in a local and international context as appropriate. This means that, as far as possible, students should "own" their personal CAS programs. With guidance from their mentors/advisers, students should choose activities for themselves, initiating new ones where appropriate.
Students are required to:
- self-review at the beginning of their CAS experience and set personal goals for what they hope to achieve through their CAS program
- plan, do and reflect (plan activities, carry them out and reflect on what they have learned)
- undertake at least one interim review and a final review with their CAS adviser
- take part in a range of activities, including at least one project, some of which they have initiated themselves
- keep records of their activities and achievements, including a list of the principal activities undertaken
- show evidence of achievement of the eight CAS learning outcomes.
The most important aspect of evaluation is self-evaluation by the student.
The school should provide students with formative feedback on progress and offer guidance on future activities. The school also makes the final decision on completion, which is reported to the IB regional office.
There is no other assessment of student performance in CAS.
The IB regional office systematically monitors school CAS program and provides feedback to the school.