Revising the G&P: Introducing the standards for accreditation

CoA announces the outlines for the new standards for accreditation.

An extra day was added to the July CoA meeting to review the comments received during the Phase II public comment period that was open from Nov. 29, 2012 through June 1, 2013. As with Phase I, more than 400 pages of rich comments were received from constituent groups, interested parties and individuals. At the end of the meeting, CoA completed draft “skeletons” or detailed outlines for each level of accreditation. The content of these outlines were released to the public during the CoA Open Forum at the 2013 APA Convention in Honolulu on Aug. 2, 2013. In preparing to move forward with drafting the new accreditation standards, CoA made a number of key decisions that are discussed below.

Sequence of Training

First, public comment from groups and individuals during Phase II indicated support for preserving internship prior to conferral of the doctoral degree. CoA concurred and this sequence will be maintained for the new accreditation standards. 

Competencies

With regards to competencies, based on careful consideration of public comment, the new accreditation standards will incorporate a common set of primary, core professional competencies. Currently, CoA is conducting a review of all of the major competency documents from across the psychology community to identify the core professional competencies that will be expected of all students/trainees in accredited programs. The final common core professional competencies will be available later this fall as part of the draft standards, following review and approval by the full commission. Programs will be granted flexibility to define secondary competencies that go beyond the core articulated by the new standards.

Diversity

Another major question addressed through public comment had to do with how programs document the various aspects of diversity that need to be considered during program review. CoA had often received feedback that the way in which diversity was addressed in the current G&P often led to redundancy in the CoA self-study. To address these concerns, in the new accreditation standards there will not be a separate and distinct section on diversity. Instead, programs will be expected to address diversity in each of the relevant parts of the “skeleton” specific to the area under consideration. 

Next Steps

CoA will develop the language of the new standards consistent with the outlines approved at the July meeting. Following approval by the full CoA, the new standards will undergo technical writing and legal review for a targeted release for 6 months of public comment by the end of 2013.

Standards for Accreditation

The new standards for accreditation will contain five “areas” consistent across the three levels of accreditation: doctoral, internship and postdoctoral residency. The specifics contained within the areas will be tailored to the unique needs for each education/training level. Diversity will be integrated throughout the standards as relevant to the particular area, but will not be duplicative as it is currently perceived with the current G&P.

I. Institutional and Program Context

  1. Type of program.
  2. Institutional & program setting and resources.
  3. Program context and policies.
  4. Institutional/program context and diversity.

II. Curriculum, Outcomes and Evaluation

  1. Goals of the program.
  2. Competencies: This will include core competencies as defined by the profession as well as program-defined competencies; in postdoctoral residency programs in specialty areas the program will also have to discuss specialty-defined competencies.
  3. Evaluation of student/intern/resident competencies and ongoing continuous quality evaluation of the program.

III. Students/Interns/Residents

  1. Selection processes and criteria.
  2. Educational environment and climate.
  3. Program efforts to maximize student/trainee success.
  4. Student/Intern/Resident diversity.

IV. Faculty/Staff Credentials and Sufficiency

  1. Program leadership.
  2. Faculty qualifications.
  3. Faculty sufficiency.
  4. Faculty diversity.

V. Communication Practices

  1. Public disclosure.
  2. Communication with program applicants.
  3. Communication and relationship with the accrediting body.