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Learning Center Experience
The National Council Licensure
Examination (NCLEX) is a high stakes test administered by state boards of
nursing to nursing graduates to determine if a graduate has the ability to
practice competently (National Council of State Boards of Nursing [NCSBN],
2013). Due to the transforming role of
the nursing profession, amended public policy mandates, and rise in acute and
chronically ill patient mix, the NCSBN changed the NCLEX RN passing standard on
April 1, 2013 to meet the challenges of 21st century health reform.
The change raises an important question, are nursing graduates, US schools of
nursing, and universities prepared for the standard change?
Prepared means, did the institution
anticipate the passing standard change and prospectively provide knowledge
acquisition opportunities for nursing students that focused on trends in safe,
entry-level practice. Prepared also means, will nursing graduates be
academically ready to take the NCLEX-RN examination knowing that the passing
standard has been raised and that competencies have changed from the last time
the test was administered to a colleague in 2012? Having knowledge of the
change may facilitate first-time exam pass success.
of the NCLEX Passing Standard Change
According to the NCSBN, nursing practice
is in a state of continuous change requiring licensing agencies, responsible
for public safety, to assess whether the passing standard cut point reflects the
minimal ability to practice nursing. In December 2012, the NCSBN board of
directors determined that due to a higher level of patient acuity, graduates
needed to demonstrate a higher level of knowledge and competencies than was
required in 2009. As a result, the passing standard for the RN test was changed
from -0.16 to 0.00 logits (NCSBN). The modification
in pass-fail measurement units, called a logit, causes nursing graduates,
administrators, and educators fear because with the changed cut-point comes the
potential for a national drop in passing results that may diminish reputational
value and regulatory status for nursing programs across the country.
of the 2013 NCLEX Blueprints
In order for new graduates to prepare to
sit for the 2013 RN licensing examination, it is important to review the 2013 NCLEX
test blueprint to identify specific areas of weakness to focus study before
taking the test and to take a formal NCLEX test preparation review with a
reputable education service or with a professional NCLEX tutor or coach.
In order for universities to prepare for
the changed NCLEX passing standard, it is important to use the 2013 test blueprint
as a topical outline checklist for RN education programs. If a topic in the
blueprint plan is missing from the curriculum then it is important to add the
content and plan ahead now for more changes in three years. If the university or
school has curricular revision rules, this is an opportunity to teach the
institution about the importance of revising curricular documents that map to
the NCLEX blueprint and safe practice trends in entry level nursing.
A delay may cause the first-time pass
data to drop which means that the nursing program may not meet the required
first-time NCLEX pass benchmark set by regulators. In addition, waiting until
the next round of curriculum revision dates may mean that nursing students will
not be learning what is needed to pass the NCLEX-RN on the first attempt and
the failure would reflect on the student, the community, and future organizational
for Innovation and Continuous Disruptive Change
With economic policy reform and full
implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nurses who
practice in the US health system will see innovation and disruptive change
strategies emerge coupled with a surge capacity of insured public stakeholders
entering health networks that will need a higher entry-level skillset. The US health
system will continue to be in flux and as a result the NCLEX-RN passing
standard will continue to be reviewed by regulators to protect the public. To
stay ahead of the next disruption, nursing educators and leaders will need to produce
cycles of prospective, curricular document revisions to match progressive change
to provide nursing graduates the cognitive tools that will facilitate high
stakes test-taking success.
Council of State Boards of Nursing. (2013). Passing standard. Retrieved fromhttps://www.ncsbn.org/2630.htm
the Author: Linda Carl, Ed.D,
RN has a passion for communicating solutions to challenges faced by
providers and networks related to health reform, technology, advanced practice,
and ethical-legal decision-making and is a full
time online nursing professor at the Kaplan University, a health policy reform
subject matter expert, a freelance writer, a public speaker, consultant, tutor,
and coach. Dr. Carl's research and experience focuses on NCLEX-RN first time
pass-fail attempts, technology and patient outcomes, nursing education program
evaluation and change, appreciative inquiry, disruptive change, administration,
risk management, and organizational redesign. Dr. Carl has consulted,
published, and conducted podium and poster presentations worldwide and provided
leadership for the Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform Foundation (TIGER) open door project initiative in 2012.