Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Reenvisioning Assessment for the Academy and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education's Standards Revision Process

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Reenvisioning Assessment for the Academy and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education's Standards Revision Process

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) plans to revise their standards and guidelines for doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) programs. (1) A stakeholder's conference was held in October 2012 to gather critical feedback on the state of pharmacy practice and education that could be used to inform the next version of standards for accreditation. Given the complex and ever-changing political environment within higher education, coupled with increasing demands on resources for both accreditors and the institutions they certify, it is important for members of the academy to periodically review standards and processes and to approach revision thoughtfully. This examination should be done with an eye toward the literature and evidence in higher education. (2) ACPE's plan to revise the standards provides an excellent opportunity to revisit the overall approach to assessment standards for PharmD programs. As assessment professionals in colleges and schools of pharmacy, the authors feel the obligation to comment on and share recommendations related to how assessment is addressed and operationalized in the upcoming standards revision. This paper sets forth recommendations intended to help strengthen and streamline assessment in the requirements for accreditation.

In addition, the authors intend for these recommendations to create dialogue and debate in the academy. Evolving and shaping assessment practices is not solely the responsibility of accreditation standards. This process requires commitment and dedication from individual faculty members, colleges and schools, and organizations supporting the college and schools, such as the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). Therefore, this paper also challenges the academy to optimize assessment practices.

Any discussion of the future of assessment should begin with an understanding of the purpose, supporting structures, and the best practices that have accumulated to date. Assessment strategies and techniques are generally undertaken to gather data to be used to improve or to judge the worth of a performance, program, or entity (ie, accountability). Most often accreditation processes are associated with the accountability agenda for assessment. Indeed, the entire process of preparing a self-study report, being evaluated by a site team, and receiving an accreditation action is by definition a summative assessment of a program and thus can be defined as an accountability exercise. Administrators and educators may resonate more with the formative or improvement aspects of assessment practices, asking "How can we use data driven approaches to improve student learning, or improve the outcomes of programs or courses?" Both improvement and accountability roles for assessment are important and both should be included in the fabric of the standards that are used to determine accreditation of educational programs.

The fundamental role of accreditation in higher education is ensuring quality. In the United States, both the US Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) play important roles in ensuring the quality and effectiveness of accrediting bodies such as the ACPE. By a process known as recognition, which is similar to the accreditation process, accrediting bodies can be certified by USDE to ensure that they are maintaining the soundness of institutions and programs that receive federal funds. CHEA ensures that accrediting bodies contribute to maintaining and improving academic quality. As such, both CHEA and USDE have their own set of standards and recognition processes, and ACPE is recognized by both. USDE reviews ACPE every 5 years and CHEA reviews them every 10 years. Often these recognition standards translate into requirements seen in the standards for professional programs. For example, USDE requires that accreditors examine an institution's success with respect to meeting their stated mission. …

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