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 ACOE is seeking to change to its approved scope of Recognition from the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and is accepting comments submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than May 18, 2022 (posted April 18, 2022).
Current CHEA-recognized scope statement
The ACOE’s current scope was approved by the CHEA Committee on Recognition at its November 19-20, 2018 meeting and is as follows:
Professional optometric degree programs (doctoral level), optometric technician programs (certificate level), and optometric residency programs (postdoctoral level) in the United States and Canada.
Proposed CHEA-scope statement
Professional optometric degree programs (doctoral level) in the United States and Canada.
Reason for the proposed change
The updated version of the “CHEA Standards and Procedures for Recognition” (approved by the CHEA Board of Directors on October 4, 2021) included a material change to its Eligibility Requirements for Recognition; specifically, Requirement C states:
To be eligible for CHEA recognition an accrediting organization must:…accredit a majority of institutions or programs that have legal authority to:
- operate as higher education institutions or programs; and
- confer degrees at the associate degree level or higher.**
** CHEA recognition extends only to accreditation activities that are at the associate degree level or higher.
The ACOE currently accredits and plans to continue accrediting three (3) types of programs: (1) professional optometric degree programs, (2) optometric residency programs, and (3) optometric technician programs. Of the three types of programs the ACOE accredits, only professional optometric degree programs confer degrees at an associate degree level or higher; these programs confer doctoral level degrees. Optometric residency programs and optometric technician programs grant completion certificates; neither confers a degree upon its graduates.
To align with the updated requirements put forth by the CHEA, only professional optometric degree programs can be included in the ACOE’s scope of recognition from CHEA going forward.
Impact of the change
The change in recognition scope will have no impact on the ACOE’s accreditation activities, its Standards, or its processes and does not impact the importance of accreditation with respect to access to federal funds or its role with respect to obtaining licensure.
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 2021-22 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||2024|
|Jacqueline G. Davis, O.D., MPH||State Board||2023|
|Julie DeKinder, O.D.||Residency Educator||2024|
|Mark T. Evely, JD, Ph.D||Public Member||2024|
|William L. Miller, O.D., Ph.D.||Educator||2023|
|Janet Millis, AA,CPOT||Optometric Technician||2024|
|Regan Michelle Welch, O.D.||Practitioner||2023|
|David N. Yang, O.D.||Practitioner||2024|
The Council publishes lists of accredited professional optometric degree programs, optometric residency programs and optometric technician programs. To request lists of programs, standards or policy and procedure manual, or to ask questions about the ACOE, contact the ACOE.
Stephanie A. Puljak, MS MBA, ACOE Director, is the principal staff member supporting the ACOE.
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.
December 16, 2020
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