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PCC puts ADN program on hold to improve test passing rates

21 April 2017

Pratt Community College has put its Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Program on hold for one year to allow faculty the opportunity to conduct a complete transformative restructuring of the ADN program starting with the mission and concluding with sustainable and repeatable measures to help ensure a high quality program in the future. PCC was granted approval by the Kansas State Board of Nursing (KSBN) on Mar. 29, to voluntarily cease admissions to the ADN Program for one academic year. Enrollment postponement for the program across all delivery modalities will occur for the 2017-2018 academic year.

With approval from KSBN, the ADN Program will resume August 2018 for the 2018-2019 academic year.

“We want to rebuild the program to the shining star is once was,” said PCC president, Dr. Michael Calvert.

PCC is taking this action because the ADN program lost national accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) in August 2015. Also at that time, KSBN lowered the program’s status to conditional approval. Since then, significant action was taken by the college to increase admission standards, adjust course content, and assess program rigor; aligning delivery modalities, integrating the campus community, and mentoring. However, the ADN program has been unable to achieve expected student and program learning outcomes.

Subsequently in November 2016, KSBN conducted a Focused Site Visit in response to three consecutive years of deficient ADN National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates comparatively to the KSBN 75% benchmark. (2013: 56.16%/2014: 52.14%/ 2015: 66.94%). As of April 2017, the 2016 ADN-NCLEX annual pass rate is 31.25%.

For reasons that are unclear, students in the PCC program are not passing the exam the first time with only 31 percent of the class passing. That fails to meet the required 75 percent of the class passing required by the State Board of Nursing.

But when the students take the test again, the pass rate jumps to 85 percent.

However, the Board only looks at the first time taking the test numbers. For five years, the PCC students in the ADN program have not met that 75 percent pass rate and they were placed on a conditional status.

 “Why the difference is unknown. The data is inconclusive. We just don’t know why,” Calvert said.

For the students that have already enrolled for next year’s ADN Program, the staff is working with those students to find an alternate program. Some students may prefer to delay their entry and enroll in 2018.

Calvert said PCC had met with hospitals they work with that supply facilities for practical testing and they are on board with the college as they go through this evaluation.

The college also has a Practical Nurse program that has met and exceeded the required NCLEX pass rates so it will continue operations as normal.

The PN students also have to take the NCLEX. It’s not as difficult as the ADN version but students understand what is required of them for the exam. Why the pass rates drop so dramatically for the ADN program tests is a mystery since they know what is coming, Calvert said.

Also unknown is why the pass rates for on-line students, a dramatic drop from 77.8 percent in 2014-2015 to just 16.7 percent in 2015-2016.

The PCC nursing program, both the ADN and PN programs, had been exemplary for many years but the expansion of the program lead to a big turnover of 60 faculty members and seven directors over a five year period. During that time, the problems with ADN passing rates continuously failed to meet the 75 percent pass rates on the first time taking the test. During the same time period, the PN program continuously met and exceeded the 75 percent pass rate.

PCC administration and nursing staff are now on the path to provide clearly defined, measurable, and assessable goals, objectives and benchmarks will be established and evaluated weekly, monthly, and quarterly to help ensure ADN faculty are meeting administrative expectations during this transformational period. In addition, the ADN faculty will submit an action plan timeline for tracking progress.

A Strategic Communication Plan will include timely updates to stakeholders, including KSBN, regional medical providers, Board of Trustees and internal PCC constituencies throughout the review process.

Since the first graduating class in 1984, PCC’s ADN Program had exemplar NCLEX pass rates and was considered a premier provider of healthcare professionals in the state. The solvency, stability, and sustainability of maintaining programmatic excellence began to erode around 2012 when a myriad of factors drastically changed the size, scope, and quality of graduates.

The increase of program capacity to 180 students across face-to-facade, multi-campuses, and online created an un-scalable growth model resulting in continuous turnover. Since 2012, turnover included 60 faculty members and 7 Directors over a five-year period.
PCC is committed to delivering quality academic programs and services to students and stakeholders. The Board of Trustees and administration are driven to restore quality to the ADN Program. The Board of Trustees was recognized by KSBN for their dedication and support of nursing education during this challenging time.