ASU Nursing program scrutinized - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

ASU Nursing program scrutinized

The state board of nursing is scrutinizing Albany State University because of an extremely low pass rate among students who took the nursing board exam.   Leaders of the nursing program say it's not indicative of a major problem.   They say they have the scores from previous years to show it.

The Georgia Board of Nursing wants ASU to submit a written assessment of performance and a plan of action to correct the problem students had with passing the Boards in 2010 when the pass rate fell below 80%. But only three students didn't pass during their first try, and I'm told test taking, not a lack of knowledge was the problem.

Dr. Cathy Williams doesn't just sit behind a desk in the nursing department at ASU.  She gets involved in teaching students, and she still practices nursing, so she can teach from experience.  But she recently had a bad experience when she got results of the nursing boards.

She said, "We were extremely surprised with the results of the boards."Extremely surprised because the results weren't good.  In 2007, 2008 and 2009, an average of 97% of students passed.  But last year that number fell drastically, to just 57.1%.

She said, "Yeah, it was devastating and it was devastating because the group of individuals that we sent to state boards were model students."

Students who did well in class, in clinical's and yes, even on tests.  So she was surprised when such a low pass rate came back.

Dr. Williams said, "When our students did not pass we started looking at anything that would give us clues as to what happened."

But Williams believes there are two contributing factors.  The first, only seven people took the boards.  "We had a small number of students going and anytime you have a small number of students, every student counts."

Plus, she says the students who did not pass say they simply got nervous and had test anxiety, making it difficult to finish successfully.  The students who didn't pass the boards on the first try, all successfully passed the second time around.    

The nursing department says they're emphasizing test taking skills in addition to clinical practices and classroom work.     The program is not in danger of any sanctions.   They simply must submit a plan explaining how they'll work to have a higher percentage of students pass the boards on the first round.

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