Five Useful Reads on Standardized Testing For Any Nursing Classroom

student studying in computer lab

Many nursing classrooms have adapted to include both in-person and online options in response to the recent pandemic. However, standardized testing is still important for effective nursing education, regardless of what your classroom looks like. The following recently published articles provide interesting insights about standardized testing, strategies to improve outcomes, and strong points to ponder. Here is a mix of articles to consider.

1. Standardized Testing in Nursing Education: Preparing Students for NCLEX RN And Practice Glasgow, M.E., Dreher, H.M., & Schreiber, J. (2019). Journal of Professional Nursing, 35 (6), 440-446.

If you only have time to read one article, consider this thought-provoking article by Drs. Glasgow, Dreher and Schreiber. This article delves into evidence around assessing student readiness for NCLEX and the many consideration in using standardized exams in nursing programs. This piece covers interesting issues in standardized testing, including program and state board of nursing policies, the high stakes argument, the development of academically rigorous evaluation tools, fairness, and philosophical adult learning considerations. Best practices in using standardized exams gleaned from the literature and from the authors’ own experiences teaching in multiple nursing programs come through in this article. A must-read if your team is reviewing and discussing best practices around testing and considering policy changes.

2. Big Ideas: An Ethical Exploration of Standardized Testing in Nursing Education. Young, D. (2018). Nurse Education Today. 61 (2018) 1-2.

We have all pondered ethical principles in nursing. In this piece on standardized testing in nursing education, Diane Young presents interesting ethical considerations. As nurse educators, we all hope that all who truly want to be practicing nurses can achieve that goal. But of course, not all students succeed in their courses of study or in passing NCLEX. I hope this piques your interest!

3. Instituting Evidence-Based Changes to Improve First-Time NCLEX-RN Pass Rates. Czekanski, K., Hoerst, B.J., and Kurz, J. (2018). 9 (1), 11-18.  Journal of Nursing Regulation.

This article by Czekanski et al covers a systematic data-driven and evidenced-based approach to implementing change to improve pass rates. A designated testing committee developed strategies to improve faculty-made exams, improve standardized testing policies, and increase student practice with NCLEX-style questions. Key items for change included revision of student policies related to admission, progression, and program exit policies. Faculty simultaneously made changes across the curriculum, mapped curriculum content to NCLEX, and analyzed HESI exams for content areas of concern.  Pass rates after the interventions increased from 64.86% to 94.29% over a three-year period.

4. HESI RN Specialty Exams Improve Scores on Exit Exam. Dr. Susan Sportsman, RN, PhD, ANEF, FAAN

Standardized exams like HESI Specialty Exams can make an impact on student success. Using specialty exams throughout the curriculum gives student exposure to more NCLEX-style questions and helps students identify content areas to target their study efforts. Susan Sportsman reports on data from 700 nursing programs and the exam results from more than 200,000 students. The purpose of the study was to determine the extent to which HESI Specialty Exams given through students’ courses of study predicted their HESI Exit Exam scores. Students who took more unique specialty exams performed significantly better on the exit exam.

5) Tips for Promoting Test Security When Remote Proctoring. Kim Brunnert, PhD, CESP

As we move more of our education efforts online, testing online has become more common. Elsevier’s Director of Psychometrics, Kim Brunner, PhD, CESP has some tips for you to promote test security when you are utilizing remote proctoring methods with your standardized testing program.