Benchmarks Evaluation System

The Benchmark Evaluation System provides the means for graduate programs to evalauate their success in meeting the Competency Benchmarks for Professional Psychology, a set of core competencies for professional psychology that students should develop during their training.

The benchmarks evaluation system, just like the benchmarks document, was designed as a resource, not as a mandate, for training programs. Programs are free to modify the examples (behavioral anchors from the Appendix (DOC, 315KB)) and identify additional examples or competencies that relate to their specific program goals and outcomes and to select the specific clusters they wish to use.

Competency Resources
Updated July 2012
Using the System

How Are the Benchmarks Rated?

  • The working group developed a rating system for use with the Benchmarks.

  • The rating system asks evaluators to determine how characteristic a specific competency-related behavior is of the trainee.

  • The system allows a program to determine the level of observed competence needed to meet the program's standard. 

What Does This Mean for My Program?

  • The benchmarks evaluation system, just like the benchmarks document, was designed as a resource, not as a mandate, for training programs. 

  • Programs are free to modify the examples (behavioral anchors from the Appendix (DOC, 315KB)) and identify additional examples or competencies that relate to their specific program goals and outcomes and to select the specific clusters they wish to use. 

  • Programs can set their own minimal expected level of competence for each cluster and competency as well as for overall performance.

How Do We Use the Benchmarks Evaluation System?

  • Decide which of the clusters are areas of focus in your own training program. For example, a program may want to focus on developing competencies in professionalism, relational, science and applications, but not systems.  

  • Within each cluster, select the essential competency components that you want students to develop.

  • Refer to the Appendix and select examples relevant to your program that help to clarify essential components.

  • Identify additional essential components and examples to include as needed.

  • Each essential component is rated using a characteristic scale (e.g., "somewhat" "very"). For each essential component, decide how characteristic the behavior needs to be of the trainees' observed behavior to meet your program's competence expectations. For example, if your program decides that you want students to be very competent in effectively implementing evidence-based interventions, you may decide that you want the students to demonstrate behavior that this competency is "moderately" characteristic of their behavior by the end of the third year of training and "mostly" characteristic by entry to internship.

About the 2012 Revisions

Why the Change? 

  • Implementation is the next challenge in moving to a culture of competence

  • Programs using the 2009 version of the Competency Benchmarks have expressed a strong preference for a more streamlined document

  • The Competency Benchmarks needed to be transformed into a tool that would preserve its essential content, but would be feasible for regular use by education and training programs.

Who Worked On This?

  • A working group comprised of individuals who were all part of the 2006 benchmarks meeting, with the addition of a (then) postdoctoral fellow.  Their goal was to find ways to make the competency benchmarks document easier to implement for programs. 

What Is New? 

  • The 15 competencies were organized into 6 overarching clusters (PDF, 60KB) to simplify application

  • Redundancy among items was reduced and complete coverage of the identified competencies assured; language was revised for consistency. 

  • The document was reviewed and modified to ensure expectations were consistent across the sequence of training and within developmental level.

  • The specific examples (behavioral anchors) were moved to an appendix (DOC, 315KB) that will be easily accessible when raters need to refer to examples for greater clarification.

This project gratefully acknowledges the financial support of APA and the ASPPB foundation.