Co-Lin disputes nursing standards report

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A recent Mississippi College Board report showing Copiah-LincolnCommunity College’s nursing program fell short in one of 13accreditation standards is misleading, according to schoolofficials.

According to the annual college review, Co-Lin did not meet thelicensure passage requirement, which counts the number of graduateswho pass the national licensing examination to become registerednurses.

“This is the first time we have not met a standard so this issomething new to us,” said Mary Ann Canterbury, director of theAssociate Degree Nursing program. “We’re very close.”

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The results come after the College Board approved revisions tothe nursing standards that raised the licensure passage requirementfrom 75 percent passing the exam to a floating number that is 95percent of the national average test scores, Canterbury said. Thenational average for 2007, on which the results were based, was82.4. Co-Lin fell short of that number by 2.4.

Only 10 of the state’s 21 nursing program’s met allrequirements, including Southwest Mississippi CommunityCollege.

An additional nine programs, including Co-Lin, fell short byonly one standard. Alcorn State missed two standards and CoahomaCommunity College failed to meet 10 standards.

Dr. Jane Hulon, vice president of academic instruction atCo-Lin, admitted the college fell short of the passage raterequired under the new rules, but added that the result was”somewhat” misleading.

Part of the revision was to allow a second attempt for passageof the exam, she said. The school soared past the 82.4 nationalaverage to 93.3 percent following second attempts.

“We exceeded that benchmark when you consider second attempts,so we partially made that benchmark,” Hulon said.

Canterbury said she could not say whether the second attemptsshould have been factored into the review.

“I’m trying to get that clarified myself,” she said. “Certainly,the goal is to achieve (first passage).”

The size of classes plays a role in determining how well Co-Lindoes in meeting the requirements, Canterbury said.

Co-Lin graduates approximately 35-38 students each year. Whencompared to some larger schools, which may pass 100 or morestudents each year, each student has far more impact in the numbersof a smaller school.

Hulon said another factor in the discussion is recent revisionsin the national licensure exam that added more “high-end”questions. Both associate and bachelor degree nursing graduatestake the same licensure exam and the new questions made it moredifficult for associate degree graduates.

“They increased the number of critical thinking questions on theexam, which made it more difficult,” she said. “Our program isstrong and we have tried to be proactive to ensure our students areready for the exam.”

The college has added more critical thinking questions to itscourses and incorporated a new computer-based exit exam for testpractice. However, those elements were not in place for pastgraduates, including those who took the recent licensure exam thatthe review was based on, Hulon said.