Why use professional standards of practice? A standard to guide practice is an essential characteristic of any established profession. The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) was founded in 1979 as a profession-wide entity to establish standards to guide practice by student affairs, student development, and student support service providers employed by institutions of higher learning. The standards, intended to describe quality practice, are developed through collaboration and consensus and are designed to apply broadly across institution types and sizes.
Program review using the CAS standards Because CAS believes in the importance of self-assessment, the standards and guidelines are offered as criteria that can be used in multiple ways toward the goal of assuring and enhancing quality practice. CAS does not prescribe or proscribe ways of using the standards; they are intended to be tools for practitioners to use to improve practice. The CAS Self-Assessment Guides (SAGs) and CAS Program Review module in the Anthology Platform are examples of possible program review tools. The Anthology partnership with the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) provides the resources for a more holistic program review process.
With the addition of the Anthology Program Review tools to the already invaluable CAS materials, you’ll be able to coordinate a meaningful and informative process that is dynamic and moves your assessment practice forward. - The entire library of CAS standards and self-assessment guides is built right into one system, where an unlimited number of users can access them. New and updated standards are made available the moment they are released by CAS. - Choose the applicable set of standards and assign them to the appropriate department or office. Incorporate additional fields for institution-specific assessment processes. - Organize, track, and review everything through a central online location. You’ll have the reassurance that comes with a consistent process, but still benefit from the flexibility of immediate access. - Manage workflows with ease and clarity by customizing templates, leveraging annual assessment and planning efforts, and identifying areas for improvement. - Build upon your existing processes by making the most of the data you already have. In addition to our user-friendly management tools, you’ll be able to link your assessment data and connect it back to your program review. - Access the CAS Do-It-Yourself Guide and work directly with an Anthology Assessment Consultant for expert assistance launching a program review process and assessment culture.
Discover more about becoming a Anthology + CAS Program Review Member and visit the website to schedule a demo.
The most thorough and, perhaps, productive use of the standards involves a self-study process for program evaluation. This process involves others at the institution (and sometimes those external to it) in examining evidence to determine collectively whether the program is in compliance with the standards. Involvement of others serves several purposes; it ensures a broader and more objective perspective, increases knowledge and awareness of the program across the institution, and develops support for implementation of identified improvements. CAS recommends the several basic steps for implementing a program review based on a self-study model. The chart below provides an overview of the full model, and the following text details additional nuances of several steps:
Reporting Your Findings.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE AND RESPONSIBLE PARTIES
Identify Your Audience (e.g., internal vs. external, within department, within division, assessment committee)
Determine How the Report Will Be Used
Determine How Often a Report Will Be Required (Also, will updates/progress reports be required?)
Determine Where the Report Will Be Stored
Determine Who Is Responsible for Implementation
STEP 2: SUMMARIZE AND PRIORITIZE RECOMMENDED ACTIONS
Respond to the Overview Questions at the end of each Self-Assessment Guide section
Identify areas of strength (Areas where program performance exceeds criterion and is viewed as exemplary)
Identify areas of weakness (Program areas that fail to meet criterion measures and/or discrepancies among raters exist)
Describe practices requiring follow-up (Program areas deemed less than satisfactory and shortcomings to be strengthened)
Summarize and prioritize actions required for program to meet standards (List criterion measures and related practices the self-study process identified as unsatisfactory, list actions identified through the self-study that require implementation, and prioritize the list by importance, need, and achievability of the desired change)
STEP 3: WRITE ACTION PLAN FOR IMPLEMENTING CHANGES
Identify resources (i.e., human, fiscal, physical) that are essential to program enhancement
Set dates by which specific actions are to be completed
Identify responsible parties to complete the action steps
Set tentative start-up date for initiating a subsequent self-study
STEP 4: PREPARE YOUR DESCRIPTIVE REPORT
Explain the mission, purpose, and philosophy of your program or service
Summarize the available data
Provide list of recommendations and action plan
Include resources needed, dates for completion, and identify responsible persons
STEP 5: CLOSE THE LOOP
Recommend and communicate action plans for program enhancement
Ensure specific actions are aligned with strategic plans
Pursue appropriate channels to request needed resources
Examples of Report Formats.
There are many ways to report findings of a self-study or program review. See the example template linked here, or reference the approaches below for more options.
EXAMPLE OF INITIAL REPORT FORMAT#1 I. Executive Summary: Who chaired review, who served on team(s), when review was conducted, why review was conducted II. Copy of Standards and Self-Assessment Guide III. Summary of Initial Findings IV. Copy of Original Action Plan Including Scores, Strengths, & Recommendations V. Other Comments EXAMPLE OF INITIAL REPORT FORMAT #2 I. To whom report is addressed II. Components of report a. Introduction b. Executive Summary of Areas/Components Under Review (e.g., Mission, Program) c. Organization & Leadership, Staffing/Human Resources d. Relationships/Partnerships: Academic, Campus, External e. Financial, Facilities and Technology Resources f. Ethics, Law, Policy, Governance, Diversity, Access g. Assessment h. Recommendation Summary III. Review Area Commentary and Recommendations IV. Concluding Remarks EXAMPLE OF FINAL REPORT FORMAT #1 I. Summary of the Self-Assessment Process II. Executive Summary of Selected and Consolidated Overview Questions from the SAG sections III. Summary of areas of Program Strength IV. Summary of areas with Insufficient Evidence and Rating Discrepancy V. Summary of areas of Program Weakness with a prioritized Action Plan based on importance, need, and achievability VI. Lessons Learned to be Used for Next Program Review VII. Appendices (including copy of standards and collective ratings) EXAMPLE OF FINAL REPORT FORMAT #2 In addition to the CAS rating sheets, leadership may want the external teams provide a narrative report for each department reviewed. The report should support the CAS ratings and encourage units to make improvements in their programs and services. In the narrative report, you might provide:
The name of the program or subspecialty program that was reviewed
The date of the program review
The names and titles of the CAS review team members
Body of Report
Areas of Departmental Strengths (going beyond compliance and making the program great)
Areas of Concern (where a program is generally not in compliance and will need to make changes to become compliant)
Recommendations of the committee (strategies for attaining excellence and areas needing improvement)
Comments on the Review Process (impressions of the review processes and logistics)
Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. All Rights Reserved. 2455 East Sunrise Boulevard, Suite 816| Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304 800.889.7270 (p) | [email protected]