Alcorn nursing students allowed to retake exam

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NATCHEZ — Twenty-three Alcorn State University students who failed the nursing school’s exit exam due to what they say is an unfair policy have been afforded the opportunity to retake the exam today.

At 4:02 p.m. Tuesday, ASU Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Richard Green e-mailed the following statement to the media via ASU Associate Vice President for University Relations Clara Ross Stamps, “Alcorn State University is concerned and aware of issues raised by our students in the nursing program.

“As a result of meetings with the School of Nursing faculty and administrators, as well as meetings with students and parents, the university will give students the opportunity to retest (today). The faculty will continue its efforts to make sure students perform at high levels.”

The students, who attend ASU’s Natchez campus, met privately with School of Nursing Dean Dr. Linda Godley Monday to discuss new scoring requirements for the Health Education Systems, Inc. nursing exit exam. The exam is administered to students both in the associate degree and bachelor’s degree nursing programs.

In August 2008, when the majority of the students began their studies at ASU, the school’s policy stated a student must score at least 75 percent on the departmental comprehensive exit exam — the HESI exit exam — to graduate, according to a copy of the policy provided by students.

Students were allowed to take the exam three times beginning in March, and prior to each retake, students were required to work with faculty to develop and implement an individualized performance plan.

In August 2009, one year into the students’ studies, Godley sent a memorandum to faculty, staff and students stating students must score an average of 75 percent on teacher-made tests prior to the exam, and a minimum score of 900 on the exam. According to a copy of the memorandum, also provided by students, the exam would be administered only one time.

Thirty-one students took the exit exam April 29. Only eight passed, student Kari Guido said Monday.

Guido said if students were evaluated according to the previous policy, the majority of the class would have passed the exam.

At 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, student Nia Day said she had not been notified about the retake.

“We were asking that we just be able to graduate under the previous policy, which would not include a retake,” Day said. “But at least it’s a change. At least they’re trying to meet us somewhere.”

Guido and her parents, Carolyn and Gary Guido, were too unaware of the retake Tuesday afternoon.

“Everybody passed it under the eyes of HESI, why would they take it again?” Gary Guido said.

The ASU School of Nursing pinning ceremony is set for 1 p.m. Thursday on the Natchez campus.