In an apparent effort to standardize optometric institutional requirements, the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) publicized updates to its professional optometric degree standards last week. The group says the changes “will help ensure all optometry schools—whether new or existing—are held to the same accreditation standards.”

The American Optometric Association had called on its members to submit comments on the updates, and the final result is available for review online. Significantly, suggested updates include calls for educational institutions to publish graduation rates, attrition rates, first time pass rates (for parts I, II, and III of the National Board of Examiner’s in Optometry exam), the ultimate passage rate for each cohort graduating within each of the three previous academic years and established criteria for externship sites.1

In regards to optometric education, the AOA also recently noted that it has “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,” wrote Christopher J. Quinn, AOA president. “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.”2

The Tusculum School of Optometry—slated to open on the institution’s campus in Greeneville, Tenn.—announced that it anticipates enrolling optometry students in 2020, according to a March 20 announcement on the school’s website.3

1. American Optometric Association. Standards for professional optometric degree programs seeking preliminary approval pre-accreditation status. Accessed June 13, 2018.

2. American Optometric Association. Tusculum media campaign prompts AOA insistence on accreditation standards.  Accessed June 13, 2018.

3. Richey S. Tusculum expects to enroll first optometry class in 2020. Tusulum University. March 20, 2018. Accessed June 13, 2018.