Local News

More problems surface in FSU nursing program

Posted August 1, 2007 1:05 p.m. EDT
Updated January 28, 2009 12:38 p.m. EST

— A dozen nursing students met Wednesday with Fayetteville State University administrators to express their concerns about the program after many students failed a recent exam.

Forty-three of 46 rising juniors in FSU's nursing program failed a test administered by Health Education Systems Inc., or HESI, that was part of a summer school course that ended Tuesday. Some students said the test included material that wasn't covered in the course.

An FSU spokeswoman said the exam accounted for 15 percent of the grade in the course, so students could fail the test and still pass the course.

"I think there were some misunderstandings on how this test was going to be used, and we wanted to clarify that," said David Barlow, dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, which oversees the nursing program.

Barlow said the exam was an assessment test to help instructors tailor courses to students' needs.

"One of the things we'll look at is taking the assessment exam to look at what the students' weaknesses and strengths are as individuals and develop an education plan to help them succeed," he said.

The meeting came weeks after 24 of 31 seniors in the school's two-year-old nursing program weren't allowed to graduate after failing an exit exam administered by Health Education Systems. Those students complained that the test wasn't part of their original graduation requirements, and they threatened to sue FSU.

The students were allowed to retake the test, and 13 of them received their degrees.

The problems with the nursing program were among those cited last month when Chancellor T.J. Bryan resigned.

Interim Chancellor Vic Hackley said he plans to review the nursing program. He said it needs time to develop, and administrators need to ensure that instructors are teaching material covered in the exams.

"Everything has to be directed toward what that HESI piece or the whole thing will assess -- the lectures, the course content, every quiz, every midterm," Hackley said.

Barlow said he believes the program's courses mesh with the tests.

"We put together an analysis of the course content and the subject matter that's on HESI, and we feel confident we're doing what we need to do," he said.