An analysis of the use of Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) scores within one professional program

Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2017 Mar-Apr;9(2):178-184. doi: 10.1016/j.cptl.2016.11.008. Epub 2017 Jan 31.


Objective: The Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) is a recent assessment requirement for US pharmacy professional programs. This study analyses PCOA scores for uses described in the 2016 Standards with data from one professional program.

Methods: PCOA data were analyzed for two consecutive classes (n=215) of pharmacy students at the end of their didactic curriculum to explore relationships among PCOA scores, grade point average (GPA), and North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) scores utilizing regression analyses.

Results: Decisions about student learning based on PCOA scores and GPA indicated remediation would have been prescribed for approximately 7% of students. In comparison, NAPLEX scores revealed a 1% failure rate among the study sample. Relationships between PCOA scores and GPA (r=0.47) and NAPLEX (r=0.51) were moderate to large, respectively. GPA explained a larger portion of unique variance (14%) than PCOA (8%) in NAPLEX scores.

Conclusions: In this sample of students, academic decisions would have varied depending upon the learning assessment, which is consistent with a moderate correlation between GPA and PCOA scores. Although PCOA scores correlate with GPA and NAPLEX, PCOA scores explained a smaller portion of unique variance in NAPLEX scores than GPA. The ongoing establishment of validity evidence of PCOA scores is important for meaningful interpretation of scores for the intended uses.

Keywords: Assessment; Board exam; Evaluation; Milestone exam; NAPLEX; PCOA; Validity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Curriculum / standards*
  • Curriculum / trends
  • Education, Pharmacy, Graduate / methods*
  • Education, Pharmacy, Graduate / standards*
  • Education, Pharmacy, Graduate / trends
  • Educational Measurement / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Licensure, Pharmacy / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Students, Pharmacy / psychology
  • Students, Pharmacy / statistics & numerical data*