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Call for Task Force on Graduate Outcomes

Jun 14, 2016, 01:43 AM by Jeffrey Braxton

On October 2, 2015, ACAPT membership approved the motion that: “ACAPT implement a task force to explore the possibility of a common, standardized set of expected graduate outcomes to be adopted by all programs.”

As part of the accreditation process physical therapist educational programs are required to identify expected outcomes for their graduates. Expected outcomes are defined as “competencies that the program expects students to have achieved at completion of the program.” There are, however, no uniform and consistent guidelines for setting expected outcomes for graduates. According to accreditation guidelines, expected graduate outcomes are meant to reflect the mission of the program which, in turn, must be consistent with the institutional mission. Therefore, expected outcomes currently vary across programs.

Given that professions are derived from society’s recognition of their special status, unique knowledge and the right to practice-autonomy of its members, there is an underlying duty for professionals to meet certain obligations. It seems reasonable to assume that these obligations would not differ significantly among physical therapists or be conditional on the educational program from which one graduated.  It may be possible, therefore, to identify a ‘core’ set of graduate expectations that are common to all physical therapist educational programs, with each program potentially also having mission-specific graduate outcomes.

The concept of a set of uniform outcomes with a supporting standardized measurement tool has been discussed among members of the physical therapist education community long before ACAPT was an organization without any significant forward progress. Looking forward to a time when we might realize the hope of a single graduate outcomes assessment tool that can be used by all programs, a first step would be to have agreement that there can and should be a set of common, standardized expected graduate outcomes.  Once there is consensus on that point, identification and adoption of a set of common graduate outcomes would be the next step before development of a tool to measure them.

The goal of the Task Force on Graduate Outcomes is to make a recommendation to ACAPT on the feasibility of identifying a common, standardized set of expected graduate outcomes that has the potential to be adopted by all programs.

  • The task force’s work is limited to exploring the feasibility of identifying a core set of graduate expectations that could be applied to all programs regardless of institution and program mission.
  • The task force’s work should be informed by professional practice and values expectations articulated by current APTA and CAPTE documents, upon health professions educational literature, and upon the work of both the PTE21 group and ACAPT’s Benchmarking Task Force.

The four person task force, under the leadership of its chair, will meet regularly and will forward a recommendation with a rationale for that recommendation to the Board of Directors within 6 months of the first task force meeting.

The task force’s recommendation on feasibility of a common set of graduate outcomes will inform the Board’s decision to discontinue this initiative (with a report to ACAPT’s membership) or to extend the charge of the task force to formulate a common set of graduate outcomes to present to the ACAPT membership at a time to be determined.

Interested individuals should forward a brief statement that describes your qualifications and a copy of your CV or resume by April 28, 2016 to acapt@apta.org to be considered for invitation.Task force members will be selected by ACAPT’s Board of Directors and all applicants will be notified by mid-May.
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