In June 2002, the study "Associate Degree Nursing: Model Prerequisites Validation Study" was completed as a Health Care Initiative Project. It concluded that four factors best predict student success in completing nursing programs: overall GPA, English GPA, core biology courses GPA, and core biology repetitions (the fewer the repetitions the better). Using that data, a formula was then been developed that can be used to create cut scores for admission to associate degree-nursing programs. The study found that if this formula were applied, it could result in a 10% increase in completion rates for ADN programs. But the data also showed that if this formula were applied, it would have a disproportional effect on certain student populations. Thus, it appears that while we could increase the efficiency of nursing programs by using this formula, we would lose some of the diversity of our nursing students.
The study noted also that the point of prerequisites is to eliminate the at-risk students and to fill their slots with those who may have a higher probability of successful completion. Clearly the intention of those who wrote the study is to introduce an element of elitism into the community college nursing programs in the name of greater "efficiency."
We believe that student equity is a core value of the community college system and that the use of this new formula would undercut this value. The Chancellor of the system seems to agree; Chancellor Tom Nussbaum made clear the importance of our core values in an e-mail dated June 7, 2002, in which he expressed a concern that implementing these criteria could negatively impact access, student equity and equal opportunity. Thus, the Academic Senate and the Chancellor view the use of these new criteria as a retreat from the Community College mission and efforts.
A subsequent Chancellor's Office advisory for nursing schools considering using this study to change their admission criteria was released this past July. It also notes that if the formula were to be applied, it could result in rationing access. The nursing advisory goes on to make several valuable recommendations for implementation and offers ideas for interventions once the student is in the program. Yet why wait till the doors are closed and then, if disproportional impact is noted, set up systems that help only those admitted to the program?
Nurses, by nature, believe in early intervention and preventing problems from developing. Would this not be a better approach to assuring students succeed in their prerequisite courses? Let us apply our efforts to increasing the success in the prerequisites through such things as mentorship, tutoring, study skills, and problem solving skills. This way we do not close the door to students but increase their academic successes and help them achieve their goals. Applying interventions that assist students in their prerequisite studies will help to ensure equal opportunity for all to enter and to succeed in Associate Degree Nursing programs.
At the Fall Plenary Session we will be offering an opportunity to discuss the study and the advisory in one of our breakouts on Thursday, October 30. The ADN study is available at http://www.healthoccupations.org/resources/nursing and the nursing advisory is available at the Chancellor's website www.cccco.edu under Educational Services.