ARC-PA 5th Edition Standards: Presenting Data for Appendix 14E, Competencies

scott's thoughts Sep 13, 2022

Welcome back. I want to spend this blog addressing the last requirement of the ARC-PA 5th Edition Standards Appendix 14E, “Faculty evaluation of the curriculum to assess its ability to prepare students to achieve program defined competencies.”

As we approach this topic, here are a couple of questions to consider:

  1. Does your program have competencies or program learning outcomes that are currently measured?
  2. If so, how are the competencies/learning outcomes mapped to the curriculum?

I attended a recent “Accreditation and You” conference given by the Commission, and I asked that question. “Regarding the competencies, what are the expectations? Should they be mapped?” And the answer I got was, “That’s a good idea.”  Well, I agree that it is a good idea! So here I’ll show you how we went about mapping and quantifying competencies.

I have a faculty appointment at the University of Pittsburgh, and one of my responsibilities is the assessment and research component, in that I help to lead these processes. So there, we looked at the PAES Competencies and the ones that were recently released.  

We decided which of the competencies were appropriate for students.  We looked at each competency, considering the sum of its parts, because there are multiple components within a competency. That’s one of the limits for it, if you have one that has lots of different components.  We then looked at the instruction within the didactic year and clinical year.  

Starting with didactic year, the only time we used courses to connect to a competency was when instructional objectives did connect to that specific competency. Then we determined milestones, which in essence, was successful completion of didactic courses, and then maybe more specific nuanced elements too that connected to certain aspects of that. Faculty are responsible for checking students off during the course of their program. So essentially, what they have is an entrusted level of performance based on their completion. 

In the clinical year, there’s always some component connected to it. In some cases, it’s the summative. In some cases, it's the preceptor evaluation of the students. There we have the first competency. You can see that this is medical literature, evidence-based medicine. Again, it’s tied to a course, tied to an assignment, and tied to something specific that the student completes. 

Looking at society and population health (Competency 4), the same thing holds true. It ties to specific curricular elements that have instructional objectives. We look at specific assignments for the milestones that connect directly to the specific competencies, in which by virtue of successful completion, the student then is checked off, that they have achieved that.

In the end, our examination and results took quite a bit of diving. It did result in some curricular modifications, because we felt that we didn’t have a very good curricular element connected with some of the competencies. We actually had to create some in order to prepare students to meet these competencies.

Some programs have program learning outcomes, and that is acceptable. Program learning outcomes might be a bit more granular.  Maybe they’re able to be connected better to particular elements.

Each element of these components must be addressed within your SSR. If you have a 100% pass rate, then there’s not going to be any feedback from students who are unsuccessful, but if you do not have evaluation of all the data related to elements, your report will be deemed to be inadequate. Therefore, I wanted to give you some examples of how some of these elements could be addressed.  

Below, I offer the charts we created based on Competency 1 and Competency 4.

If you would like more detailed information on addressing other individual competencies, I welcome you to attend Massey Martin, LLC’s free webinar on ARC-PA 5th Edition Standards. I’m available for questions at the end of each session, as well.

In my next blog, we’ll move on to Appendix 14F, which relates to PANCE performance and its various predictors. I hope you’ll join me then!


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