Graduation Requirement FAQ

Graduation+Requirement+FAQ

On Aug. 26, at the Decatur High School (DHS) International Baccalaureate student assembly, significant changes were announced to the senior Capstone project and graduation requirements. 

Going into their junior year, students are given a choice to participate in one of four different learning paths: The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), The International Baccalaureate Career Program (IBCP), Dual Enrollment, or lastly, any combination of Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and standard level courses without joining any specific program. 

In the past, IBDP students have had to complete three “core” requirements: the Extended Essay, two years of a Theory of Knowledge Course, and Creativity-Activity-Service (CAS). The IBCP program students had to complete a Reflective Project, a service requirement, and a career pathway course, most likely relating to a tech or fine arts class. Students who were not taking either of those courses were required to complete a Senior Capstone project. 

“[CAS] ensures that students are engaged in activities that are not just based in school and that they are thinking about certain outcomes that will help them be prepared for other less academic goals in the future,” DHS IB Coordinator Debra Ledoux said. 

In the past, DHS has used these requirements in an innovative way, combining some of these projects to more easily fit the graduation requirements.

“At the time, we said ‘Let’s call the Extended Essay the Senior Capstone, and we will keep the senior project for kids who aren’t in the program and the Reflective Project will be the senior project for Career Program kids,’” Ledoux said. 

This year, all students except for those in the IBCP program will be required to complete a CAS project in order to meet school board requirements for graduation. For IBCP students, the Reflective Project will still act as their senior capstone. 

“Career Program kids have their Reflective Project and their service] requirements already which overlaps a lot with what is required by CAS, so we didn’t want to add CAS on for them, but the senior project kids could certainly do CAS and that way every senior could be in the same advisement,” LeDoux said. 

The DHS administration also noticed the separation that was happening between students who were in different programs. Previously, advisement classes were split up based on which program requirements students had to complete. As a result, students were not connecting with one another as easily. Now, most DHS seniors will complete the same type of Senior Capstone project, thus are able to talk and share with more ease. 

“IB is very happy to have everyone do CAS. They call it CAS for all so there is really no reason all of our students can’t do CAS,” Ledoux said.

 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs) about Graduation Requirements:

Which students will complete a CAS project this year?

Starting during their junior year, all students, with the exception of those in the International Baccalaureate Career Program, will begin a CAS project which will be completed by the beginning of their senior year. 

Who has to complete the Extended Essay?

Only students who are a part of the IB Diploma Program will have to complete an Extended Essay as part of the core requirements for an IB diploma. 

Who has to complete the Theory of Knowledge course (TOK)?

Only students who are a part of the IB Diploma Program will have to complete the two-year TOK course as part of the core requirements for an IB diploma. The TOK course will take place during WIN time, which happens after advisement on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

What are the requirements to pass TOK?

TOK students must participate in the weekly classes, present an exhibition during junior year, and complete the TOK essay in senior year.

Will students be able to opt-out of CAS if they so choose?

Students may not opt-out of CAS, as it replaces the senior project from prior years. Failure to complete CAS will result in not being able to graduate. 

Will this change be continued in the following years, too?

The Decatur High school IB coordinators plan to continue the new implementation of the CAS project as the senior capstone project in the years to come. 

How does this affect Dual Enrollment students?

Dual Enrollment students will also be required to complete a CAS project. 

What grades are involved in these programs?

Juniors and seniors are involved in these graduation projects, as the majority of students take two-year learning pathways.