Category: Fellows Posters
Purpose: The Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) is a standardized examination designed to assess student performance within the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum. Although schools of pharmacy are mandated by their accrediting organization to administer the PCOA, there is a paucity of data on how to interpret performance as it relates to success on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX). To prepare students for the NAPLEX, we developed a readiness plan involving exams administered throughout the advanced experiential rotations (APPEs). The purpose of our study is to evaluate the association between student performance on the PCOA and NAPLEX Readiness Exams.
Methods: The PCOA is administered during the last semester of the didactic curriculum. All students are required to take the PCOA, and performance accounts for up to 10% of their total grade in a final year capstone course. Our NAPLEX readiness plan includes a total of 5 required exams administered while students are on their APPEs. The readiness plan also involves one elective block offered outside the APPE schedule. Each required exam is released according to a set schedule (one exam per APPE block), includes specific content, and has a minimum requirement for passing (75%). Students are required to pass a minimum of 3 exam blocks to pass the readiness component of the capstone course. To assess whether an association exists between students score on the PCOA and their score on the NAPLEX Readiness exams, the Pearson product-moment correlation function in Excel was used to determine the strength and direction of the association between the scores. Statistical significance was set at α = 0.05. For our analysis, we excluded data from the elective exam block as not all students participated in that readiness exam.
Results: NAPLEX readiness and PCOA scores for 267 students were analyzed. Our findings suggest a weak negative correlation exists between the average NAPLEX readiness score and overall PCOA score (r = -0.056, p-value = 0.415). When evaluating specific content areas of the PCOA, content areas 2, 3, and 4 had a weak negative correlation between the average NAPLEX readiness scores and the scores for each content area (r = -0.06, p = 0.334; r = 0.096, p = 0.117; r = -0.008; p = 0.9, respectively). Conversely, for PCOA content area 1, there is a weak positive correlation between these scores (r = 0.002, p = 0.962). None of the associations were statistically significant. Overall, students score on the PCOA does not necessarily reflect their average NAPLEX readiness scores.
Conclusion: In our student cohort, PCOA performance did not have a direct correlation to their performance on the PCOA. At this time, the PCOA scores may not be of use to determining who may need additional support when preparing for the NAPLEX Readiness Exams. It possible that making PCOA performance a higher stakes assessment would change student performance and be a better indicator of student knowledge at this point in the curriculum. If such a change were made, it is possible that such scores would be of greater assistance in determining students who require additional academic support.