METHOD OF ACCREDITATION
To ensure educational programs teach the necessary competencies for a Canadian License Optician the programs undergo accreditation by regulatory agencies. The COBC accept the accreditation process of NACO.
Competencies needed by Canadian Opticians are developed from a Task Analysis. This is a survey of what tasks a License Optician performs in order to complete their work accurately and efficiently. The Task analysis for Canadian License Opticians is described in the attached documents (Task Analysis of Canadian Optician & Analytical Review of the Quebec Opticians Workplace).
The development of competencies follows the completion of a Task Analysis. A panel of professional experts review the tasks performed by License Opticians and develop a list of the skills necessary to perform their jobs accurately and efficiently.
The final step in the process is to deliver the competencies to the teaching institutions; the schools then design curriculum to ensure that students are properly trained.
OVERSIGHT OF THE TEACHING PROGRAMS
The COBC maintain oversight of the quality of the teaching programs. This is done in two ways; the first is by periodic evaluations or accreditation of the program, the second is by examining the graduates of programs. The method of program accreditation is described in the attached document(Program Accreditation). An explanation of an examination process follows in this document.
Many people who come to live and work in British Columbia bring with them very high levels of education. Sometimes this education may not be automatically recognized by the COBC. To ensure that there is no barrier to registration for qualified individuals, the Bylaws of the COBC require the Registration Committee to evaluate education programs from other jurisdictions. This process applies to both Canadian and International applicants. Those Canadian Licensed Opticians currently registered in another province may be entitled to register under the terms of a Mutual Recognition Agreement. (See the following Section)
The registration/licensure examination is one of the last hurdles that a candidate must face in the registration process. The COBC board has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the examination meets technical, professional, and legal standards, and, protects the health, safety and welfare of the public by assessing candidates’ abilities to practice competently. Once a candidate has passed a registration examination, the board must be comfortable granting registration, thus assuring the public that the registrant is minimally qualified to practice at the time of initial registration. An easy to read explanation of the registration/licensure examination process is attached. (CLEAR Explanation of Licensure Examinations)
The terminology used when discussing registration/licensure examinations is often confusing to a new reader. Attached is a document that provides definitions for words and phrases commonly used in the field of professional and occupational regulation. (CLEAR Glossary)
Recognition of examinations is not an easy process; to properly compare the equivalency of examinations the National Accreditation Committee of Opticians (NACO) completed a comparative exercise. NACO hired an independent consultant to compare the examinations and present a report to the COBC and other Canadian regulators. This report was completed in October 2002. A copy of the report is attached to this page (External Review of Canadian Certification Examinations).
The COBC adopted the national examination process in 2004 and offered the first administration under the new format in 2006. (See attached Board Resolution)
Student assessment has seen radical changes over the last twenty years, with a move from written based tests to those where competencies are measured. Traditional courses and assessments concentrated on factual knowledge. More recently assessment methods are being developed to assess other areas such as communication, clinical skills, attitudes, ethics and professionalism.
Many schools are developing ‘learning outcomes’ or ‘goals’ that they expect their graduates to achieve by the end of the course. These are sometimes called exit outcomes and may be expressed as ‘competencies’, ‘roles’, ‘outcomes’ or ‘goals’.
So to have examination methods changed; the National Examination for Canadian Opticians has moved away from oral, multiple choice or essay type questions and has adopted an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). While the examination contains elements that are similar in nature to previous examinations the focus is on problem solving rather than on a simple recall of an applicant’s knowledge.
An OSCE is a performance-based assessment method in which trainees are observed and evaluated as they go through a series of stations where they interview, examine and treat standardized patients presenting with some type of problem. Applicants are required to apply their training to solve problems presented in a clinical situation and demonstrate their proficiency in a clinical situation.
Further information about the national examination is available from the candidate’s examination handbook. This is available on line; it describes the examinations and a review of each station, the equipment supplied and the expectations on the applicant. (Candidates Handbook)
This is the process used to establish the minimum score needed to pass an examination. Many methods exist, ranging from regulatory bodies that arbitrarily select a score (e.g. 70 percent correct) to formal processes based on the collective judgment of a group of subject matter experts. In order to be defensible, passing scores should be established using psychometrically sound procedures.
The standard for the Canadian national examination for License Opticians is set using a “Modified Angoff” process. The passing score is computed from an estimate of the probability of a borderline candidate answering each item correctly. After a discussion and consensus of the characteristics of a borderline candidate, each member of a standard setting committee makes an independent assessment of the probability that a borderline candidate will answer the item correctly for each item. Each member’s assessments of an item are averaged to determine the probability of a correct response for that item. Then, each probability assigned to an item on the exam form is averaged to obtain the pass point. The benefit of the Angoff is that it has held up in court, is relatively straightforward, and does not require exam data.
In order to ensure that the standard represented the interests of Opticians across Canada, the standard setting committee was carefully selected to ensure appropriate representation. All the participants are considered to be experts in their field and actively participated in all phases of the process. (See Standard Setting Report 1998 & Optical Sciences I Eyeglass Examination 2005)
APPLICANTS THAT HAVE NOT SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGED AN EXAMINATION BY THE COBC
Many people who come to live and work in British Columbia bring with them very high levels of certification. Sometimes this certification may not be automatically recognized by the COBC. To ensure that there is no barrier to registration for qualified individuals, the Bylaws of the COBC require the Registration Committee evaluate examinations from other jurisdictions.
To be considered to be exempt from examination, applicants who have not completed a certification examination approved by the COBC must supply the following information:
i. An License Opticians scope of practice statement from their current jurisdiction
ii. An outline of the License Opticians programs they have completed which normally includes the learning outcomes of each of the courses within the program as well as a transcript of completion
iii. A blue print or candidates hand book for the examination or in absence of such a document copies of examinations.