AOA Calls for ‘Full Adherence’ to Institutional Accreditation Requirements


ST. LOUIS—The American Optometric Association (AOA) is urging its members to submit comments to the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) regarding proposed changes to the ACOE’s Professional Optometric Degree (POD) standards. The deadline to submit comments is today (June 6), according to AOA. AOA said proposed changes to the POD standards will help ensure all optometry schools—whether new or existing—are held to the same accreditation standards and so future generations of doctors are of “the same caliber and quality that optometry expects and patients deserve,” according to the association’s recent statement.

ACOE’s proposed changes can be reviewed here. Comments may be sent via email to

In addition, the association has called for ‘full adherence to the profession's recognized institutional accreditation requirements” in light of “lower than expected licensing exam results,” which were released earlier this spring.

In January, AOA president Christopher J. Quinn, OD, sent a letter to ACOE expressing concern over the National Board of Examiners in Optometry’s (NBEO) and ACOE’s licensing examination results that showed seven schools' pass rates below 90 percent, and two less than 75 percent, according to AOA’s statement. (NBEO and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) had jointly released 2016-17 academic year pass rates for the national licensing examination, which had indicated that several programs were lagging with below 90 percent passing rates.)

Separately in the announcement, AOA noted its “concern” around the plans being put forward to establish a new optometry school in Tennessee. Quinn and the AOA trustees wrote in a May 1 letter to ACOE that “we have become aware of a number of public claims being put forward by those involved with the potential establishment of a school connected to Tusculum College.”

The letter further stated, “We note that this is the fourth new school recently proposed in the same part of the southeastern United States, and this development again brings to the fore the same questions we raised in our January 18 letter about the ability of schools of optometry to continue to attract enough qualified faculty and students, and to provide adequate clinical opportunities to students when so many programs are clustered in one, relatively lightly populated area.”

The combination of new optometry schools and lower test scores has “prompted AOA to call for full adherence to the profession's recognized institutional accreditation requirements,” the announcement noted.

The anticipated opening of Tusculum’s optometry school, which could enroll its first students in 2020 pending accreditation, would bring “the total number of proposed optometric degree programs, or those already in development, to more than a dozen in the immediate future amid data showing a general, declining trend in licensing exam pass rates in recent years,” AOA noted.