Last year, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry made waves in the educational community when it released the National Board of Examiners in Optometry Yearly Performance Report for the first time publicly. The data’s release left some schools in a bind to repair their reputations. A year later, new data shows slight increases in the ultimate pass rates, as well as the Part III first-time pass rates.1

In the previous year’s report, the lowest ultimate pass rate was 68.42% (Western University). This year, that institution’s ultimate pass rate was 81.67%. However, this year’s overall lowest score was slightly lower than last year’s at 67.31% (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences), down more than seven percentage points from that institution’s previous numbers. Southern College of Optometry (SCO) maintained its top spot with the same 100% ultimate pass rate as the previous year.1 SCO (as well as University of Alabama at Birmingham) requires its optometry students to pass parts I and II of the boards, but not part III for graduation. University of Alabama at Birmingham’s ultimate pass rate this year was 97.73%. Michigan College of Optometry required parts I and II in previous years, but adjusted their requirements so that students need to take parts I, II and III, but not necessarily pass, to graduate. Nonetheless, its ultimate pass rate was 94.29%.1

After last year’s publication, administrators sought to clarify their policies regarding the board exams. For instance, Salus University’s Dean Melissa Trego released an explanatory video online after the school’s part I scores showed only 67.11% passing the first time.2 That number is down to 55.21% this year. Dr. Trego vowed last year to end a program that allowed third-year students to work in an off-campus clinic in January to help prepare for part I of the boards. “Ultimately, when students graduate, they are able to pass part one,” Dr. Trego said in that statement.2 Salus’s ultimate pass rate this year was 85.28%, up a bit from last year’s 84.21%.1

1. ASCO. NBOE 10/2017 – 9/2018 Institutional yearly performance report. December 3, 2018. Accessed December 3, 2018.

2. National board of examiners in optometry pass rates. Salus University.–-Traditional-Program/NBEO-Pass-Rates.aspx.