ASU Nursing Program has the 2nd Lowest Exam Pass Rates in Colorado


According to data on pass rates for the Colorado nursing exam, Adams State University (ASU) is the second-lowest performing nursing school in the state. The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is a standardized exam that each state board of nursing uses to determine whether or not a candidate is prepared for entry-level nursing practice. These exams are taken upon completion of the nursing program and are essential for any graduate wanting to pursue a career as a licensed caregiver.

With an average pass rate of 68.3% between the years 2012 and 2015, Adams State University ranks behind all other schools in Colorado other than the University of Phoenix, with an average pass rate of 64.2%. The highest performing schools are Regis University’s Accelerated and Choice programs, as well as the University of Colorado College of Nursing – all with a pass rate of above 92%. Many schools performed between 91% and 86% and no schools other than ASU and University of Phoenix performed below 82%. The full data set is online here.

Below are the rankings of NCLEX-RN Pass Rates for Graduates of Colorado Nursing Schools, averaged over their years of recorded pass rates.  Schools are grouped in color by percentage range with no schools in the 70-80% range.

1. Regis University – Accelerated: 93.8%
2. Regis University – Choice: 92.6%
3. University of Colorado College of Nursing: 92.6%
4. Metropolitan State University of Denver: 91.8%
5. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs: 91%
6. University of Northern Colorado: 90.3%
7. Colorado Mesa University: 89.7%
8. Regis University – Traditional: 88.3%
9. Platt College: 88%
10. Colorado Christian University: 86.9%
11. Denver School of Nursing: 86.1%
12. Colorado State University – Pueblo: 83.4%
13. Adams State University: 68.3%
14. University of Phoenix: 64.2%

In the ASU nursing program’s first year (2012), 88.2% of the students passed the NCLEX-RN. However in the 2013 year, only 50% of ASU nursing graduates passed, with 66.7% passing in 2014 and 68.4% passing in 2015. ASU’s 2013 pass rate of 50% is the lowest in the state’s recorded history of the NCLEX-RN.

By contrast, two nursing schools scored perfect 100% pass rates on the NCLEX-RN in a given year: Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2011 and Regis University’s Choice program in 2012.

The next Colorado NCLEX-RN will be administered this fall. One source familiar with the nursing program at ASU confirmed that, if the average pass rates do not improve significantly this year, ASU’s nursing program could lose accreditation. One former nursing student explained that thus far in 2016, the pass rate for ASU’s nursing program is around 50%. In response, one report indicated that students took action to address the leadership of the nursing program. One former nursing student said, “14 people have taken it this year, only 7 passed. The seniors signed a petition and the director of the nursing program, Dr. Shawn Elliott, resigned.”

As of date of publication, Dr. Elliott is still listed as the “Director of Nursing” on the ASU Nursing department website – Updated 9/1/16: Dr. Elliott has been removed from this faculty page.  However, multiple sources have confirmed that an interim director has been appointed for this program and that a search will be conducted for a new Director of Nursing.  Dr. Elliott is not listed as teaching any courses in the fall 2016 class schedule.  For more on departed faculty, see At Least 17 Faculty Departed ASU in 2015-2016.

Another observer noted, “the ASU nursing program’s average pass rate is well below almost every other nursing program in the state by at least 15%, including peer institutions like Mesa State and CSU Pueblo.”

They continued, “it is telling that the only nursing program with worse outcomes is the for-profit University of Phoenix, which has been under federal investigation for fraud, accused of deceptive marketing tactics, poor financial management, and predatory admissions practices. Could the same be said of Adams State University?”