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July 26, 2017 | For Members Only: NLN CEO Update on High Stakes Testing

NLN Member Update July 26 2017
header 'XX, Issue Number 13'

July 26, 2017
bevphoto Dear Colleagues,

In the 1930s, as the National League of Nursing Education (as the NLN was then known) worked to develop standards for nursing programs, our leaders saw the need to develop valid and reliable standardized pre-admission, achievement, and licensing tests for nurses, and to improve evaluation programs for schools of nursing. Launched in 1939, the NLNE Committee on Nursing Tests was chaired by Isabel Stewart who was known to nurse historians as director of the Teachers College Department of Nursing Education and one of the great leaders in our field. The NLNE effort to standardize nurse assessment took on even greater importance with the onset of World War II, when the demand for professional nurses intensified. Our concern for the development of valid and reliable tests – and high quality evaluation programs for schools of nursing – has never wavered.

Today I am proud of the range of testing products we offer, and I am always excited when we launch a new product. But I am most proud that NLN Testing Services reflects our core values – caring, integrity, diversity, and excellence. The topic of fair testing has re-emerged as a challenging issue for many schools of nursing. Let me elaborate.

Underpinning the work of NLN Testing Services are two documents: an NLN Vision Statement, “The Fair Testing Imperative in Nursing Education,” and the National League for Nursing Fair Testing Guidelines for Nursing Education, both approved by the NLN Board of Governors in 2012. In the five years since, I have spoken about their significance on numerous occasions. But I feel it is important to urge you to reread both documents and share their content with colleagues. The message remains relevant and vitally critical to nursing and health care.

The “Fair Testing Imperative” was the work of the NLN Presidential Task Force on High-Stakes Testing, leaders in nursing education, practice, health care, and higher education who saw the need for standards for how predictive tests and related policies should be ethically implemented by schools of nursing. Based on that work, the NLN issued testing guidelines that are fair to the individual student and reflective of the needs of schools to prepare graduates who succeed on the licensure exam. When the fall term begins, as you consider your program’s aggregate NCLEX results and the steps you may need to take to institute or modify your testing program, I encourage you to review your current policies and evaluate them in accordance with our guidelines – that will be time well spent, I can assure you.

And as you consider your program’s testing needs, think back to the long history of the NLN and our inviolable commitment to excellence in test development. We always recommend that schools start with our Pre-Admission Exam (PAX) – first launched in 1941. Now the PAX has been combined into a single test for RN and PN/VN programs, and we offer PAX PREP, an online study guide with multiple practice questions and test-taking strategies. PAX PREP, available through the online NLN Student Store, is students’ best bet for gaining admission to their preferred nursing program.

Today, the NLN produces more than 70 examinations for use in nursing education and nursing practice. We offer achievement examinations to evaluate the student's knowledge during the nursing program; end-of-nursing program/prelicensure examinations to identify areas of individual knowledge deficits; products for use in practice areas, to assist in evaluating the competence of nurses practicing in various employment settings. And, along with some of our secure exams – which must be proctored – we also offer a range of unsecured practice exams. You can find out about NLN Testing Services online, and we are always happy to answer your questions. Let us show you how NLN Testing Services can be used as part of a comprehensive assessment program in accordance with the NLN Fair Testing Guidelines and our core values –constructed with caring and integrity for the promotion of excellence and diversity in our schools of nursing and reflective of the outstanding history of the NLN.

Colleagues, the NLN has long recognized the value of the appropriate use of standardized testing in nursing education. Such testing can provide comparison data for your students with students across the US, as well as focused direction for student review and remediation, without becoming a barrier to progression. You are masters of education and can use the evaluation data from standardized testing to make sound decisions about program improvement that will impact your students’ learning outcomes and lead to the development of safe and quality practitioners. Your school will make the difference in the lives and careers of your students and the patients, family, and communities they will serve.

All the best,

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Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Executive Officer

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