CAS Standards for Self-Assessment and Improvement
Director - Division of Undergraduate Studies
Dean for Academic Advising
Pennsylvania State University
in 1979, the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher
Education (CAS) is a consortium of more than 43 professional associations.
The goal of CAS is to promote standards for various aspects
of the higher education endeavor that foster student learning
and development, quality assurance, and professional integrity.
A list of the CAS member organizations is available at http://cas.edu/
significance to the profession of academic advising are the
Standards and Guidelines for Academic Advising that have been
developed by CAS and endorsed by the National Academic Advising
Association. These Standards and Guidelines are available at
the NACADA web site https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1172/article.aspx.
The Standards and their accompanying Guidelines cover thirteen
areas from Mission to Assessment. The current Standards and
Guidelines were last updated in 2005.
what value are these Standards and Guidelines?
are many uses but principally CAS Standards are used as a template
for establishing or assessing an academic advising program on
a campus or in a particular department. For those seeking to
establish an academic advising program the CAS Standards and
Guidelines provide a template for implementing and addressing
the necessary components to run a quality academic advising
program. These standards often serve as the primary mechanism
to attain acceptable standards of practice or to self assess
either for self-initiated improvement or to meet requirements
for various accrediting agencies, be they discipline or regionally-based.
Standards and Guidelines, along with the complementary document,
the Self-Assessment Guide https://store.cas.edu/catalog/index.cfmcan be used to determine whether or not one's academic
advising program meets the established standards. Such an approach
can be used as part of professional development or as a routine
process to determine movement toward meeting acceptable standards.
In some cases, states, discipline-based accrediting agencies,
or regional accrediting agencies may ask for assessments of
academic advising programs. While these accrediting agencies
typically do not endorse a particular approach toward assessment,
these agencies recognize the CAS Self-Assessment Guide as a
viable assessment vehicle.
CAS Standards and Guidelines for Academic Advising contain the
following twelve standards: Mission, Program; Organization and Leadership; Human Resources; Ethics; Law, Policy and Government; Diversity, Equity, and Access; Institutional and External Relations; Financial Resources; Technology; Facilities and Equipment; and Assessment and Evaluation. Each standard
establishes the criteria that every institution of higher education
is expected and able to reach with reasonable effort and diligence. For example, one of the Mission standards is that
an institution must have a clearly written statement of philosophy
pertaining to academic advising, including program goals and
advisor and advisee responsibilities.
Standard also includes Guidelines which either further elaborate
on a particular Standard or provide additional suggestions for
the continued improvement of a program. While these guidelines
do not carry the weight of a Standard, those completing a Self-Assessment
have the option of whether or not to include Guidelines in their
new to the Standards and Guidelines for Academic Advising are
the Student Learning and Development Outcome Domains. The domains
are: Intellectual Growth, Effective Communication, Enhanced
Self-Esteem, Realistic Self-Appraisal, Clarified Values, Career
Choices, Leadership Development, Healthy Behavior, Meaningful
Interpersonal Relationships, Independence, Collaboration, Social
Responsibility, Satisfying and Productive Lifestyle, Appreciating
Diversity, Spiritual Awareness, Personal and Educational Goals.
These learning domains also include examples of specific measurable
outcomes that can be considered when assessing an academic advising
example of a specific domain and its achievement indicators
(learning outcomes) is:
Growth: Produces personal and educational goals statement; Employs
critical thinking in problem solving: Uses complex information
from a variety of sources including personal experience and
observation to form a decision or opinion; Obtains an degree:
Applies previous understood information and concepts to a new
situation or setting; Expressions appreciation for literature,
the fine arts, mathematics, sciences and the social sciences.
Standards and Guidelines are an invaluable tool in preparing
for a visit from an accrediting agency. Likewise they can be
used to restructure an academic advising program when there
is a sense that the current operation is not functioning effectively.
From the point of view of a regional accrediting agency, having
the capacity to both define specific learning outcomes for academic
advising and provide assessment of how well these outcomes are
achieved is one of the central tenets to twenty-first century
regional accreditation. In addition, discipline-based accrediting
agencies also call for the assessment of learning outcomes and
often want to know how academic advising in a particular department
or discipline is responsive to the issue of learning outcomes
just as they are asking about the learning outcomes in traditional
able to address learning outcomes (even though not all outcomes
may be achieved) shows that an advising program is responsive
to the directive of accrediting agencies. Further, while the
achievement of all outcomes is not de rigueur, agencies are
particularly interested in what is learned from such an assessment
exercise and how it can be used to improve learning, in this
case, within the academic advising context.
is precisely what the CAS Standards are all about. Understanding
the Standards is Step 1. Step 2 is assessing where a particular
advising program is in relationship to meeting the Standards.
Step 3 is developing an Action Plan to attempt to move the particular
status of a Standard closer to full compliance. Step 4 is retuning
to assess the effectiveness of the Action Plan (once implemented)
in terms of achieving the stated goals. With this continual
round of assessment and action, the goals of quality assurance
are met, thus guaranteeing that the academic advising needs
of students are fully addressed by an institution, a department,
or an advising unit.
should not, however, take on the task of self-assessment lightly.
The process requires significant commitment, especially to determine
whether a particular Standard has been met or how much more
needs to be done to achieve a desired level of compliance. In
addition, typically the assessment process requires a group
effort with a level of consensus reached; such self-assessments
are rarely done alone. Likewise determining priorities for an
Action Plan may required input from many sources and may require
CAS Standards have existed for well over a quarter of a century.
While better known in student affairs and student support services
circles, the Standards for Academic Advising readily cross over
into the academic realm. The Standards are designed for use
by anyone providing academic advising on a campus, including
advising delivery models that involve only faculty advising.
focus, in addition, is on self-assessment rather than external
assessment with the underlying assumption that those who deliver
advising programs are the best ones to chart their own improvement
and the ways to make such improvements. Such are the hallmarks
of a profession.
attempting to use the CAS Standards as a self-assessment vehicle
will find that Council for the Advancement of Standards provides
much assistance. Each edition of the CAS Professional Standards
in Higher Education contains a detailed account of the history
of CAS along with an explanation of the CAS approach to self-regulation
and self-assessment. Likewise the Self-Assessment Guides provide
step-by-step directions on how the process works. CAS also maintains
a list of programs nationwide that have engaged in the self-assessment
ultimate value of using the CAS Standards and Guidelines is
for self-assessment and consequent improvement. It should be
quite clear that professionals must monitor their own behaviors
and that they should constantly examine their assumptions, practices,
and outcomes. Likewise, in an era where accountability is often
the final word, it makes sense that professionals should monitor
their own practices, set their own standards, seek to achieve
these standards and alter them when necessary. For if we as
academic advising professionals do not do this, it is quite
certain that some one else will seek to do it for us. But beyond
this notion of self-assessment is the final responsibility to
our clientele...the students. We owe it to our students to provide
the highest quality of academic advising programs that we possibly
can. Few will doubt that quality academic advising leads to
better educated students and citizens. By using the CAS Standards
and Guidelines, we are demonstrating our commitment to this
this resource using APA style as:
E. R. (2006).Using
CAS Standards for Self-Assessment and Improvement.Retrieved
from theNACADA Clearinghouse of Academic
Advising ResourcesWeb site: [insert site link here].