The American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Perspective on the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)

By Pariser, David A.; Ward, R. Scott | Journal of Physical Therapy Education, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

The American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Perspective on the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)


Pariser, David A., Ward, R. Scott, Journal of Physical Therapy Education


The purpose of this perspective is to contribute to the ongoing discussions concerning the nature of the administrative relationship between the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). In recent years, CAPTE has considered its existing relationship with APTA and has expressed an interest in becoming an autonomous agency independent of APTA. The stated mission of CAPTE is to "serve the public by establishing and applying standards that assure quality and continuous improvement in the entry-level preparation of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants and that reflect the evolving nature of education, research and practice." We believe that the relationship of CAPTE and APTA has been complementary and supportive. In any relationship, involved parties should seek opportunity for improvement. In that vein, CAPTE and APTA are currently in conversation about opportunities for the future of their relationship.

There are a number of relevant APTA policies/positions (that either originated in APTAs House of Delegates (APTA House) or APTAs Board of Directors (APTA Board) that are relevant to the understanding of the current discussions. Two policies/positions that we wish to highlight are APTAs House policy, "Accreditation Agency Recognition (CAPTE/APTA) (HOD P06-97-11-07)" and APTA's House policy, "CAPTE Responsibilities (HOD Y06-89-33-73)." We will frame our points about this current APTA and CAPTE conversation around these 2 items.

The first position (Accreditation Agency Recognition) states that "there should be but one agency . . . recognized to accredit physical therapy education programs. . ." The essence of this policy forwards that "APTA supports the maintenance of the recognition of CAPTE by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the accrediting agency [for physical therapy education programs] and APTA . . . will render appropriate support to ensure accomplishment of the purpose of the accreditation program." We appreciate the wisdom of APTA's House of Delegates in clearly stating the importance of CAPTE and outlining the need to support the purpose of this important professional entity. We acknowledge that statements of support can be clear, while the details associated with carrying out the logistics of these declarations require ongoing diligence. It is that ongoing work and the challenges of those details that are the basis of the current dialogue between APTA and CAPTE.

Some of the areas that APTA provides support for CAPTE include finance, information technology, Web services, meeting services, legal counsel, facilities, storage, and additional operational resources (offices, computers, etc). Beyond providing the oversight of educational programs, CAPTE also provides information to APTA member services and supplies data about programs and students that help in the areas of research, member services, and education agendas. All of the implications related to the current levels of support and exchange and how these relate to any change in relationship are a serious part of the consideration of both APTA and CAPTE as we discuss the future.

The APTA House policy "CAPTE Responsibilities" states that "CAPTE shall be responsible for formulating, revising, adopting, and implementing the evaluative criteria for the accreditation of physical therapist assistant and physical therapist professional education programs." Again, APTA's Hosue was clear in its vision for CAPTE's mission. APTA has been a consistent supporter as CAPTE has established itself as a respected accrediting body.

In recent years, CAPTE has demonstrated that it is capable of generating excess revenues beyond operating expenses. These revenues are primarily acquired from educational institutions. Under CAPTE's current arrangement, these revenues are returned to APTA at the end of each fiscal year- which is consistent with any of the revenue-producing units at APTA. …

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