JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Several nursing students at a Jacksonville school are raising concerns about a recent standardized test implemented by the school.
The Cambridge Medical Institute is a fairly new post-secondary school for nursing. It's licensed by the Florida Department of Education/Commission for Independent Education. It is not an accredited school, according to the Florida Board of Nursing.
In 2011, the school had a 69 percent passing rate for the NCLEX nursing license exam. But in 2012, it dipped down to a 36 percent passing rate, compared with the national average of 89. The low scores caused the school to be placed on probationary status and the school implemented a standardized review exam as part of its curriculum.
"They've recently implemented specialty exams called the HESI and we have not been adequately prepared for it and previously in a class of I believe 23 students, only 4 have passed this," said a student at Cambridge Medical Institute.
Several students who want to remain anonymous say the exam they took just last week was not the exam they were prepared for. School administrators did not want to go on camera or say how many passed or failed the HESI exam, but said this is the first time they've issued the exam. Other schools like the University of North Florida use HESI and other standardized exams.
"We know that if students score above 850 or 900 on this one particular exam, that their probability of passing the NCLEX is 90 percent," said Li Loriz, Director of Nursing at the University of North Florida.
Administrators at Cambridge said students were given ample time to prepare for it and were notified of the exam in the June 2012 curriculum catalog. But one student said they just got a letter a day ago saying that if they don't pass, they have to repeat the entire course.
"After two attempts, we are dismissed from the school if we are not able to pass and this is an issue because many of the students are at the end of the program and they feel cheated because the information provided does not match the exam," said the anonymous student.
The school sets a pass rate score of 900 for the HESI exam. An 850 is an acceptable score, but the exam company recommends a 900. At Cambridge Medical Institute, if students do not score 900 or above, they fail the test and get an F for the course. UNF does not use the exam as part of their grading score, and it had a 97 percent pass rate for the NCLEX last year.
"We just use it as a way to inform the students as to how they need to continue to prepare," said Loriz.
The administration at Cambridge Medical Institute just issued a letter to students on Thursday, notifying them that they will allow them to retake the HESI exam. The administrators said that after hearing concerns from students over the last week, the school has decided to compromise. The exam will cost $40. If students pass it, they will not have to retake the course.
Find NCLEX passing rates for any school in Florida by clicking here.
First Coast News