BY WATCHING ADAMS STAFF – 11/28/16
The Adams State University (ASU) Nursing program appears to be on life support. For four years, ASU has struggled to improve the pass rate of its nursing students on the state exam. Thus far in 2016, only 40.74% of the ASU Nursing program’s 27 students have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). This is the lowest pass rate ever recorded of 165 classes for Colorado nursing programs since 2000. The previous record for the lowest NCLEX pass rate in Colorado was also from ASU in 2013, with 50% of 18 students passing. Without passing this exam, graduates are prohibited from working as nurses.
7 of the 16 accredited nursing programs in Colorado have 90% or better NCLEX pass rate and another 7 are in the 87%-90% range. As previously reported in ASU Nursing Program has the 2nd Lowest Exam Pass Rates in Colorado, ASU’s Nursing program has performed among the lowest of all Colorado’s 16 accredited nursing programs, just ahead of University of Phoenix (UoP). However, UoP raised its 2016 pass rate to 77.8%, over 37% higher than ASU’s during the same year.
Most Colorado schools averaged a pass rate of 88-95%, with Colorado Mesa University, CSU Pueblo, and Metro State Denver all scoring above 95% pass rates in 2016. ASU has only been above an 87% pass rate once – in its first year (2012).
The average pass rate for ASU’s nursing program is 62.8%. By contrast, success with Trinidad State Junior College (TSJC) students at the same NCLEX exam in a two year associates program is about 20% higher; the average pass rate for TSJC’s Alamosa campus (2008-2015) is 82.2%.
In terms of class sizes, some Colorado nursing programs consistently have over 100, even 200 students taking and passing each year. Some 5-year averages include: Denver School of Nursing: 223 / year; 87.57% pass, Univ of Colo College of Nursing: 224 / year; 93.75% pass, and UNC: 104 / year; 92.97% pass.
One former ASU faculty observed, “This program has been under-performing for many years now, and with a practice of admitting students they know aren’t prepared and then failing to adequately prepare them for standardized exams. By any measure, ASU is a bad investment for nursing students. But as long as students have been willing to pay tuition, ASU has continued to admit them.”
As previously reported, ASU’s Nursing program could lose its accreditation if its NCLEX pass rate does not significantly improve. Dr. Shawn Elliott, the previous director of the ASU Nursing program, vacated the position in the summer of 2016. Melissa Milner has been appointed as interim director.
An ASU employee familiar with ASU’s Nursing program stated, “The Nursing program has made some significant changes to try to increase pass rates. They decreased the amount of students they admitted this semester and they’re going to spend a significant amount of time on NCLEX test prep. If they don’t pass the exit exam they won’t even be allowed to take the NCLEX.”
Another observer noted, “This is basically what ASU should have been doing from the beginning: preparing students for their nursing boards and ensuring they don’t test until they are proven ready. Why it has taken ASU five years (and counting) to correct what should have been preliminary curriculum design for any school, even the embattled University of Phoenix, is a matter of ASU’s abysmal leadership and ineffective administration.”
A parent of a former ASU nursing student said, “If I’d known about the Colorado Nursing Board website and had ASU’s numbers been available, I never would have let my daughter come here. Her other option was UNC!”