Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE)
The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) is the only accrediting body for professional optometric degree (O.D.) programs, optometric residency programs, and optometric technician programs in the United States and Canada.
Advisory information from ACOE regarding COVID-19 as of December 16, 2020
Both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation recognize the ACOE as a reliable authority concerning the quality of education of the programs the Council accredits. ACOE accreditation means the programs that have attained accredited status:
- Meet the Council's standards of educational effectiveness; and
- Show a demonstrated commitment to quality assessment and improvement.
"The ACOE serves the public and the profession of optometry by establishing, maintaining and applying standards to ensure the academic quality and continuous improvement of optometric education that reflect the contemporary practice of optometry. The scope of the ACOE encompasses professional optometric degree programs, optometric residency programs, and optometric technician programs."
- Professional Optometric Degree programs are courses of study leading to a doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree.
- Optometric Residency programs of postdoctoral optometry clinical education are designed to advance the optometric graduate's preparation for patient care services beyond entry-level practice.
- Optometric Technician programs prepare students to work as optometric technicians with a working knowledge and an understanding of the procedures within the current scope of optometric practice. These programs are a minimum of one academic year.
ACOE is recognized as an accrediting body by two external agencies-the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Through periodic reviews by both USDE and CHEA, the ACOE demonstrates compliance with their respective criteria. CHEA's web site includes important information about the harm of accreditation mills and degree mills and useful information for consumers.
The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) has 11 members:
- 9 AOA members.
- 3 optometric practitioners.
- 2 doctors of optometry who are state board members nominated by the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO).
- 3 doctors of optometry affiliated with an optometric education institution nominated by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) (1 of these members must be residency trained or be a faculty member or administrator in an accredited residency).
- 1 optometric technician representative.
- 2 public members.
The term of appointment for an ACOE member is three years, and an individual may serve a maximum of three terms.
The following individuals serve as members of the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education in the 2020-21 year:
|COUNCIL MEMBER||TYPE OF ACOE MEMBER||CURRENT TERM EXPIRES|
|Stephanie S. Messner, O.D., Chair||Educator||2022|
|G. Timothy Petito, O.D., Vice Chair||Practitioner||2022|
|Patricia M. Capone, B.S. COTA/L||Public Member||2022|
|Luanne K. Chubb, O.D.||State Board||2021|
|Julie DeKinder, O.D.||Residency Educator||2021|
|Rebecca C. Sparks Dougherty, O.D.||State Board||2023|
|Lauren Kelsey Haverly, O.D.||Practitioner||2023|
|Ann Hayden-Finger, CPOT||Optometric Technician||2021|
|William L. Miller, O.D., Ph.D.||Educator||2023|
|Laura M. Neumann, DDS, MPH||Public Member||2021|
|David N. Yang, O.D.||Practitioner||2021|
The Council publishes lists of accredited professional optometric degree programs, optometric residency programs and optometric technician programs. To request lists of programs, manuals or to ask questions about the ACOE, contact the ACOE.
At its October 23-25, 2020 Fall Meeting, the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) reviewed a request submitted by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for residency programs to inform residents of the specific competencies that the resident is expected to learn and demonstrate prior to completion of the residency program. ACOE Residency Standards 2.1 and 2.4 address the expectation of residents’ attainment of advanced competencies upon completion of the program. The ACOE proposes to add to the examples of evidence for these standards a “list of advanced competencies” which the programs may use to demonstrate compliance with the standards. The ACOE distributes the following proposal in a call for comments to the communities of interest:
Addition of Proposed Examples of Evidence of Standards 2.1 and 2.4 of the 2017 Optometric Residency Standards (Proposed wording to be added to the examples of evidence is underlined)
2.1 The residency must have a written curriculum that includes structured clinical experiences, didactic components and scholarly activities, designed to achieve the mission, goals, and objectives including training in advanced competencies.
Examples of evidence:
- Written curriculum description
- Typical weekly schedule of the resident
- Description of clinical, didactic and scholarly activities
- List of advanced competencies
2.4 The curriculum must specify the knowledge, skills and behaviors required for the resident to attain the advanced competencies indicated in the program’s mission, goals and objectives. At a minimum, the resident must attain the core competencies specified in standards 2.4.1 through 2.4.6 below.
INTENT: The intent of Standard 2.4 is to ensure the residency provides clinical, didactic and scholarly activities that will develop advanced clinical competence, effective communication skills, and lifelong learning skills.
Examples of evidence:
- Written curriculum made available to the resident
- List of advanced competencies
The proposed addition of “List of advanced competencies” to the examples of evidence would provide programs with additional guidance on documentation they may wish to provide to demonstrate compliance with the standards in the program’s self-study. Examples of evidence are meant to be examples of possible relevant documentation rather than an exhaustive list. A program may choose to provide some, all, or none of these examples as long as it provides evidence to demonstrate compliance.
The ACOE will consider comments received at its Winter Meeting on February 26-28, 2021. Please submit any comments on the addition of “List of advanced competencies” as an example of evidence for residency standards 2.1 and 2.4 by February 15, 2021 to firstname.lastname@example.org
The call for comments was sent to the communities of interest via memo.
December 16, 2020
On October 23, 2020, the ACOE issued updated Advisory information regarding COVID-19. The updated policies and advisory information specified flexibilities would be allowed for a timeframe not to exceed the allowances by the US Department of Education (USDE). On December 11, 2020, the Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education released updated guidance regarding waivers and modifications of statutory and regulatory provisions ( link ). This updated guidance establishes the timeframe for these flexibilities to be the duration of the national emergency declaration and 180 days following the date on which the COVID-19 national emergency declaration is rescinded.
The American Optometric Association Health Policy Institute (HPI) is closely monitoring developments regarding COVID-19. Access valuable practice and patient resources, FAQ's, CDC recommendations and the latest HPI information for doctors of optometry.
Congresswoman encourages federal recognition of optometry’s utility in COVID-19 vaccinations nationwide as more states activate doctors of optometry alongside new vaccine developments.
The AOA Emergency Children’s Vision Summit will provide the opportunity for doctors of optometry to learn from experts on children’s eye care as they assess the crisis and chart a course forward. The members-only virtual event launches an ongoing conversation, led by the AOA, on children’s eye health and vision care. Its School Readiness Summit is set for July.
Paraoptometric attendance at the AOA’s premier advocacy conference, May 23-25, helps reinforce optometry’s case for immediate changes that will affect the entire practice.