PCOA_logo.jpgResponding to the need expressed by the United States Department of Education, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and some US colleges and schools of pharmacy for an assessment tool to assist with curriculum development and review, NABP has worked closely with key stakeholders to develop the Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA).

The PCOA is a comprehensive tool for colleges and schools of pharmacy to use as they assess student performance in the curricula. Suitable for students in all professional years, the PCOA provides data to the college or school in order for the college or school to review an individual student’s performance and progress from year to year in relation to the curriculum. The PCOA also supplies schools of pharmacy with data on national results. 

As part of a college or school's commitment to continuous quality improvement, the PCOA may be used to help evaluate if its curriculum is meeting the desired outcomes of its doctor of pharmacy program.

Why Should My School Use the PCOA?

  • The PCOA measures performance and provides a comparison to national samples
  • The assessment provides data on students’ knowledge in four content areas and 28 subtopics
  • Score reports supply the college or school with a tool to provide constructive feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of students
  • Reports allow the college or school to track student scores from year to year and chart their growth over time in the program
  • The PCOA serves as a component of an evaluation plan, as suggested by ACPE Guidelines, that:
    • Has formative and summative measures
    • Provides for collective analyses of findings
    • Evaluates trends over time
    • Includes standardized instruments and data
  • The PCOA can provide documentation of improvement in student performance after curriculum has been modified or updated
  • The assessment imparts score data that can be used in research and correlational studies with existing assessments such as National Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) scores, academic proficiency, and future North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) scores

Format of the Assessment

The 220-question, multiple choice assessment may be administered to students in all four professional years. Content on the assessment follows a blueprint that reflects actual curriculum hours established through a national sample of PharmD programs in the US.

Questions on the PCOA are broken down into four areas:

  • Basic biomedical sciences (16% of the assessment)
  • Pharmaceutical sciences (30% of the assessment)
  • Social, behavioral, and administrative sciences (22% of the assessment)
  • Clinical sciences (32% of the assessment)

PCOA Administration

Currently, colleges and schools have the option to administer the assessment in the computer-based or paper-based format. Only one format may be utilized on an assessment date.

Effective January 2015, the paper-based format will no longer be available. The PCOA will only be delivered in the computer-based format. 

Assessment Dates

The PCOA is administered three times each year. Each participating school selects dates within the three-week assessment windows to administer the PCOA and designates the site(s) where the assessment will be provided. The administration windows are as follows:

2014 PCOA Administration

  • January 13 – February 7, 2014 (testing window closed)
  • March 31 – April 25, 2014 (testing window closed)
  • August 18 – September 12, 2014 (registration closed)

2015 PCOA Administration

  • January 12, 2015 – February 6, 2015 (Register by October 14, 2014)
  • March 30, 2015 –  April 24, 2015 (Register by December 30, 2014)
  • August 24, 2015 – September 18, 2015 (Register by May 26, 2015)