Step 3: Evaluate and Certify the Trainers

Elevate standards and protect your organization

In order to avoid situations in which staff perform procedures incorrectly, PCMA has developed the most rigorous competency-based system available that is not simply a training, but a certification program.

Do you recognize these problems?

Although our instructors seem to be consistent immediately after a training, after several months we find that some of our instructors are teaching a procedure one way and others are teaching the procedure very differently. We can’t have this inconsistency in training across our organization.

We’ve been disappointed with trainings that merely give information and demonstration of procedures and have staff demonstrate the procedures for the instructors. This alone does not ensure that new instructors can actually teach these skills to others, which is completely different from simple demonstration.

These days we are constantly threatened by and worried about restraint-related litigation. I’m concerned about liability for my organization as a whole and for both the instructors and front-line staff. Our instructors may tell us that they are conducting trainings properly, but I am not trained in the system and I am a little nervous about truly knowing if they are meeting the minimum training requirements for our staff and not cutting corners.

Are these your goals and desires as well?

We need instructors who will train consistently to high standards and who will not vary from those standards. We also need all of our instructors to be teaching all procedures the same way, whether they’ve just recently been trained or have been an instructor for more than 6 months.

I want a crisis management system that will ensure that my new instructors can actually teach someone who has never seen a procedure before. A system that provides some form of guided “apprenticeship” so my staff can get valuable feedback on their teaching skills.

I need a system that will help to monitor the quality of trainings and check for adherence to training policies and that will stand behind us and provide an extra layer of accountability so that it’s not just my facility maintaining that things were done properly, but an outside organization of experts saying that things were done properly

The PCM 'Instructor Certification Sequence'

Is designed to reach these goals and desires. High initial standards when a training is completed, and the legal protection of an outside certificiation process that allows you to make the case that your organization did everything it reasonably could be expected to do regarding your instructors' training.

The PCM Instructor Training Sequence
The PCM Instructor Certification Sequence is based on observed behavior in the Practicum settnig

“Spending the time to train staff but not properly evaluate their skills and certifying them is like going to law school but never bothering to take the BAR exam.”


Evaluate and Certify is the third step and final step of the 'Training' stage of the PCMA signature Safe organization Prescription. At the end of this stage, you will now have a group of Competent and Confident In-House Instructors that are Certified and ready to begin the roll out of PCM inside your organization.

The Instructor Certification Sequence explained

  1. Practicum

    The PCM practicum is almost like an internship where your new instructors participate in various aspects of training while being led by a highly experienced PCM Instructor. As part of their certification requirements, these newly trained instructors must not only demonstrate competence in performing procedures, but they must also demonstrate competence teaching physical skills to others in addition to a variety of other important skills.

  2. Evaluate

    The Practicum Approved Trainer (PAT) will administer the PAT checklist throughout the training, making note of whether or not the new instructor met minimal criteria.

  3. Certify

    After completion of their practicum PCMA can certify these new instructors as ready to teach their own courses. This means that PCMA has verified:

    • Minimum number of hours of training
    • Minimum number of correct repetitions of physical procedures
    • Minimum 80% score on 2 written exams
      • - Passing the practitioner exam demonstrates competence in prevention, de-escalation, crisis-intervention and reintegration.
      • - Passing the instructor exam demonstrates competence in PCMA policies and procedures and safety practices
    • Answer 3 critical items correctly on written exam
      • - Knowing when physical intervention is justified/unjustified
      • - Knowing the correct positions on the most restrictive procedure
      • - Knowing the criteria for using the most restrictive procedures
    • Passing a practical exam
    • Completed Practicum checklist
    • Crisis simulation



"As I reflect on my years of being a PCM Instructor, I often think of how crucial it was for me to obtain the “co-trainer status” (Practicum) during the practicum portion of my initial instructor certification. Practicum during my initial certification set a successful path for the foundations needed as an instructor. As an educator, I compare the necessity of practicum to the necessity of “student teaching”. Practicum provided a safe space for modeling, monitoring, and demonstrating from an instructor during a “live” classroom situation. Furthermore, the practicum allowed me the opportunity to execute the teachings of PCM content and skills. Being paired with a lead instructor’s guidance provided constructive criticism and recommendations while ensuring that the participants were receiving the maximum training."

Natalie Johnson, Special Education Advisor

Shelby County Schools

Our standards are high, and you will get the full legal back up of our certification process

A sample of the Applied Behavior Analysis Associations we participate with: