National Trends in the Adoption of Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment for Student Assessment and Remediation

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Objective. To determine and describe the current uses of the Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) by US schools and colleges of pharmacy.

Methods. Assessment professionals from 135 US schools and colleges of pharmacy were invited to complete a 38-item electronic survey. Survey items were designed to investigate common uses of the PCOA, cut points, and “stakes” assigned to the PCOA, identification of at-risk students, and remediation approaches.

Results. The school response rate was 68%. The most common uses of the PCOA included curricular assessment (76%), individual student performance assessment (74%), and cohort performance assessment (71%). The PCOA was most frequently administered to third-year pharmacy (P3) students. The approach for assigning “stakes” to PCOA performance varied among programs depending on the student’s professional year in the curriculum. Programs used a variety of approaches to establish the benchmark (or cut point) for PCOA performance. Remediation for at risk students was required by less than 25% of programs. Remediation was most commonly required for P3 students (22%).

Conclusion. Survey results indicate wide variability between programs regarding PCOA cut points (benchmarks), stakes, and remediation approaches. In the future, it will be important for pharmacy educators to identify and study best practices for use of PCOA within student assessment and remediation plans.


This article was originally published in American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, volume 83, issue 6, in 2019. DOI: 10.5688/ajpe6796


American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy