A number of characteristics are common to all functional areas, and these commonalities demand inclusion in all current and future CAS standards. As a result, General Standards were devised that CAS Board members unanimously agreed were relevant to all the functional areas within student support programs and services championed by CAS member associations. The CAS General Standards are reviewed and revised prior to the publication of each new edition of the CAS Professional Standards for Higher Education.
The General Standards divide the essential components and characteristics of quality programs and services into 12 parts (these parts were defined and reorganized for the 2019 edition of the CAS Blue Book). Within the General Standards, there are indispensible requirements for units addressing the following broad categories. They are defined as follows:
1. Mission: This section identifies the purpose and essential characteristics of the functional area. It may also provide guidance on themes that are important to include in a mission statement for the functional area. Guidelines in this section may provide insight into how the functional area’s scope varies depending on institutional type or context. This section does not include details of specific program elements and/or services provided by the functional area.
2. Program and Services: This section explains how the functional area is structured and what it does. It further outlines programs, services, and/or resources provided by the functional area, including pivotal aspects of the function’s performance.
3. Student Learning, Development, and Success: This section explains how the functional area contributes to student learning, development, and success, how the approach aligns with a student learning and development model, and how these outcomes are measured.
4. Assessment: This section addresses the functional area’s approach to assessment, including how it is conducted, analyzed, and used. It addresses the key assessment practices for this functional area.
5. Access, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: This section outlines the functional area’s role in advancing and maintaining access, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace and educational environments. It addresses fundamental requirements, philosophies, procedures, and/or approaches specific to the functional area.
6. Leadership, Management, and Supervision: This section describes the responsibilities of functional area leaders, managers, and supervisors and how these individuals advance the work of the functional area. It may address initiatives that are key to the functional area’s success, which leaders must or should advocate on behalf of for their programs.
7. Human Resources: This section covers who is employed by the functional area (including professional and paraprofessional staff and student employees and volunteers). This section discusses employee qualifications or credentials, the functional area’s employment practices, and personnel training and professional development. Communication and Collaboration
8. Communication and Collaboration: This section identifies key collaborators and partners for the functional area and discusses how the functional area shares information and promotes its services. It identifies the key institutional offices/departments, or external organizations with whom the functional area should consult or engage. It may address considerations regarding outreach and information-sharing.
9. Ethics, Law, and Policy: This section describes standards for ethical practice, points to key legal issues and obligations of practitioners, and outlines policies and procedures that are critical to the work of the functional area. This section may identify laws or policies specific to the functional area that should be followed to ensure compliance with institutional policy or with state, provincial, or federal law. This section also addresses required or recommended ethical considerations that are unique to the field.
10. Financial Resources: This section provides an overview of important fiscal considerations for the functional area, including how programs and services must or should be funded; financial planning and accounting processes that may be necessary; and measures that must or should exist for accountability and sound management of financial resources.
11. Technology: This section describes the role of technology in the functional area. It provides insight into the technological needs of the program, ways it is leveraged to engage users, and ongoing management of IT infrastructure.
12. Facilities and Infrastructure: This section details the facilities, equipment, space, and other infrastructure needs of the functional area. It may address issues related to how or where the functional area should be physically located; requirements or restrictions related to space, sustainability, or safety; and considerations that may exist regarding equipment acquisition and/or use.
Although the CAS General Standards were not designed to stand alone, they illustrate commonalities that exist among the many student support programs and services throughout higher education. If you are seeking a starting point for assessing your programs and services, you might use the General Standards as a template.
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