RPHS's IB Newsletter

Issue No. 4--Explaining the Program: What is CAS?

The Full Program

In previous issues of this newsletter, we've detailed the classes that students need to take to complete the full IB program and earn the IB Diploma. This and upcoming issues will focus on the other requirments of the Diploma Program that include:

  • Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
  • Creativity, Action Service (CAS) Program
  • The Extended Essay

Please remember that students who do not want to do the full Diploma Program can still take IB classes for certificates. This means they can pick and choose the IB classes they want and sit for the IB examinations with the hope of scoring high enough to earn college credit (similar to they way our AP classes work). Students and parents should understand that score requirements sometimes differ between colleges and that some colleges do not yet offer credit for IB coursework.

Students who work towards IB certificates do not have to take part in "the core" of the IB program such as Theory of Knowledge, CAS, or the Extended Essay.

So What is CAS?

The Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) component of the IB Diploma Program was put in place to provide students a more well-rounded experience during high school.

CAS enables students to enhance their personal and social development by learning through experience. At the same time, it provides an important counterbalance to the academic pressures of the rest of the Diploma Program.

Students involved in CAS activities learn and grow by setting and working towards challenging goals. Throughout this process, students are asked to reflect on their experiences in order to measure their learning and growth. These reflections are then compiled into a portfolio that students will submit at the end of their CAS program (spring of their senior year).

Most students take part in 6 to 8 activities throughout their junior and senior years to successfully complete their CAS program. Students are not asked to complete a certain number of hours, but they are advised to spend a couple hours each week working on their CAS activities.

What Do Students Have To Do?

While planning out their CAS program, students must make sure that each of their activities can be categorized under one of the three CAS strands:

Creativity: For these activities, students push themselves artistically through experiences that involve creative thinking. Students might learn how to paint or draw portraits, learn to play an instrument or participate with a choir, or take photography lessons or learn the basics of website design. Students can also take a creative activity that they take part in already and build on it. A student who is also a musician could learn a particularly difficult piece of music or a different style. A student who has produced different pieces of artwork, might try a different medium such as oil painting or sculpture. However, it is important to note that CAS activities are not merely "more of the same"-- more practice, more concerts with the school band, and so on.

Action: For this strand, students have to take part in physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the Diploma Program. To put it simply--students have to sweat for this part of their CAS experience. Students might try an activity that they have never done before such as train and run a 5k, take part in some hiking experiences, or try out a new sport. Students who are already involved in athletics can also use their sport or activity as long as they build on their experience. For example, a football player might help coach or train middle school students involved in football. A track athlete might take on the challenge of running a half-marathon. Students, however, can not just use the practices and competitions that they are already doing as part of their CAS.

Service: Students also have to take part in unpaid and voluntary work that has learning benefits for them. This rules out mundane, repetitive activities, as well as service without real responsibility. For example, organizing and participating in a coat drive could definitely be a part of CAS, but just showing up to the coat drive and loading boxes on to the truck does not go far enough to count as a CAS activity.

Some CAS Ideas


· Art gallery/museum volunteer

· Debate or public speaking

· Write for a magazine or newspaper

· Learn another language

· Instrument lessons (learning or teaching)

· Art lessons (learning or teaching)

· Symphony volunteer

· Web page design for an organization


· Community clean-up/beautification

· Learn a new sport

· Run a marathon

· Habitat for Humanity volunteer

· Little league coaches, referees, and umpires

· Martial arts

· Race for the Cure

· Relay for Life

· Volunteer lifeguard

· Walking, running, hiking with an organization (Ex. Boys Scouts of America)


· Big Brothers/Big Sisters

· City Rescue Mission volunteer

· Environmental clean-up

· Food banks

· Goodwill Industries

· Habitat for Humanity volunteer

· Hospital volunteer

· Humane society volunteer

· Kansas City Zoo volunteer

· March of Dimes volunteer

· Meals on Wheels

· Non-profit summer camp volunteer

· Public library volunteer

· Retirement and elder care

What Cannot be Counted as CAS

CAS is not a points-scoring exercise. It should be an interesting variety of activities that students find intrinsically worthwhile and rewarding, and is mutually beneficial to students and to their community. Generally, CAS is not taking place when students are in a passive role. There should be interaction. If students are passive, little is gained by either the students or the other people involved, and no real reflection occurs.

Although students are given quite a bit of leeway on the activities they choose, there are some restrictions that are in place for different reasons. Examples of activities, which at first sight might be inappropriate for CAS, are listed below:

  • Any class, activity, or project that is already part of the Diploma Program
  • Any team or activity in which a student have already been participating, unless the student sets new growth goals and achievements that will transform the student into an active, reflective participant
  • Any activity for personal reward, financial or benefit-in-kind (including school credit)
  • Doing simple, tedious, and repetitive work
  • All forms of work within the family
  • Work experience that only benefits the student
  • Fund-raising with no clearly defined end in sight
  • Religious devotion and any activity which can be interpreted as proselytizing
  • A passive pursuit, such as museum, theater, exhibition, and concert visits
  • An activity where there is no responsible adult on-site to evaluate the student's performance
  • Activities that cause division among different groups in the community

Other Info for CAS

CAS Advisors: The school will provide a CAS advisor who will help students plan out their activities, give advice throughout the program, and guide them through the different forms that must be completed.

Choosing/Approving Activities: CAS advisors must approve every activity a student wants to do for CAS BEFORE the activity begins.

The Portfolio: At the end of the their CAS program, students will put together a portfolio of their experiences and reflections that reveals their growth and learning. Students will have to show that they have completed the eight learning outcomes that are required of all CAS Programs.

When can students start CAS?: Students cannot begin working on their CAS program until the summer before their junior year.




Steven Meek

IB Coordinator-RPHS



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