We, the Nursing Students of the MDC School of Nursing, united we will stand for our rights as students for fair testing practices and for our dreams to become licensed registered nurses.
We are not against the MDC School of Nursing. We are also not against the HESI (Health Education System, Inc.) Exit examination, however what we are against is being held accountable for achieving a passing score on the HESI Exit exam or risk the withholding of our nursing degree despite having successfully passed all other academic requirements, especially when we were only given access in the last two months of our nursing program.
We believe that the HESI Exit Examination should only be used as an assessment tool to evaluate the competency of nursing students, to help us gain strength in our areas of weakness, and to prepare us for the NCLEX-RN rather than to penalize us at the last moment. Our reasons include:
2.MDC School of Nursing program does not incorporate HESI style questions in its curriculum. Yet we are now required to pass this style of testing in order to graduate.
3.Each vendor is different. We had used Pearson until August 2014, when the school decided to drop them as the official vendor because it failed to meet the standards of MDC School of Nursing. This means that we essentially missed out on eight months of preparation due to the unpopularity of Pearson amongst the student body and the faculty. HESI is different than Pearson, but it is still a new system which should be fully vetted and undergo the proper due diligence in order to assess its effectiveness for MDC given the high-stakes associated with this exam and the past incidences with ATI/Pearson. Switching vendors at the last minute is not a fair testing practice, and therefore our Exit score should not be used as the single determinant for our graduation status.
4.Access to HESI was only given at the end of September 2014, with absolutely no training in how to use the software, and with no feedback as to how to interpret scores to gauge our true performance. As of today, our own faculty is still trying to figure out how to use the study materials provided.
5.Several errors have been found in the test questions. The student body has reported these errors to the administration for review by providing screen shots or pictures. The program is faulty, not only riddled with errors in its multiple choice questions, but their hot spot questions are impossible to select correctly, unjustly classifying a question marked wrong when it is clear that the student understood the concept and marked it correctly.
It is a fact that the only nationally recognized competency exam is the NCLEX-RN. Utilizing the HESI as a predictor falsely inflates its numbers because a student who does not pass the HESI is not given an opportunity to sit for the real NCLEX and to demonstrate their true competency.
It is unjust to hold the students' diploma, career, and future based on a third-party examination software, especially one which has not been fully tested and approved and which not even the administration is fully equipped to navigate and understand. It would be a disgrace to deny students who have clearly demonstrated their competency by passing MDC’s curriculum, many with GPAs greater than 3.5 by this Exit exam.
The MDC Nursing class of 2014 requests that the HESI Exit exam not be used as a means to deny our degree or eligibility to take the NCLEX or delay our upcoming graduation. We are students that have successfully met all demands of the MDC Nursing program and deserve to graduate in Dec. 2014.
Excerpts from study conducted by the National League for Nursing
THE FAIR TESTING IMPERATIVE IN NURSING EDUCATION
“It is the prevalent use of standardized tests to block graduation or in some other way deny eligibility to take the licensing exam that is most concerning to the NLN. Using a test to predict individual student NCLEX outcomes and as the principle means for faculty and schools to make decisions about individuals can have serious ramifications for student progression and graduation, hence the term “high stakes.”
“But requiring a predetermined score for students to graduate and/or take the NCLEX in order to ensure that program pass rates remain at state board-prescribed levels is especially problematic for those who have successfully passed all other components of the nursing program. Students who cannot achieve the predetermined score may be forced to take the exit examination repeatedly until they achieve the score. They may fail the nursing course in which the test is a required component and endanger their standing in the nursing program. They may be denied their degrees or authorization to take the NCLEX. Cases like these can adversely affect the students and their families economically, i.e., while licensing is postponed, full salary potential is in jeopardy.”
“In an emerging trend, students or groups of students who have suffered negative consequences for performing poorly on standardized tests have filed suit against their nursing programs using a variety of legal bases. Grounds for litigation may include breach of contract, lack of due process, and even educational malpractice, if standardized tests were inappropriately placed in the curriculum and utilized.”
“As Giddens (2009, p. 124) noted, “Is there really anything to celebrate when a nursing program with only a 50% persistence to graduation rate boasts of a 100% first-time [test taker] NCLEX-RN pass rate?”
“Recent literature indicates that most commercially available standardized predictive tests provide individual student scores that are linked to a probability of passing the NCLEX-RN. Research has shown that while predictive tests often work well in identifying high-performing students who are likely to pass the NCLEX, they are much less precise in identifying the likelihood of failure (Spurlock, 2006; Spurlock and Hunt, 2008).”