Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing



First Committee Member

Michele Clark

Second Committee Member

Lori Candela

Third Committee Member

Nancy Menzel

Fourth Committee Member

Marcia Ditmyer

Number of Pages



This study explored the use of standardized tests within nursing programs. Standardized tests have been used within nursing programs for several decades (Shultz, 2010), but recently their use has increased. This rise in utilization may be related to the need for nursing programs to satisfy various accreditation requirements, including annual state board of nursing pass rates. However, standardized tests are not without controversy. For example, some believe that the tests can be detrimental to minority nursing students (Spurlock, 2006). Therefore, the purpose of the study was to assess how and why standardized tests are utilized within nursing programs.

Literature was reviewed which detailed the use of standardized tests within the K-12 educational system and within nursing programs. In addition, two theoretical frameworks were included within this study. The first was the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). The second framework was Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN).

This research study utilized a descriptive correlational design, conducted via an online survey administered by Qualtrics. A sample of 199 persons in the position to manage or oversee pre-licensure nursing programs within the western one-third of the United States completed the study. The survey was comprised of researcher-created questions and the previously established Nursing Competencies Survey.

The average subject was female, 56.5 years old, white, not of Hispanic origin, and held an MSN. The majority of the program directors reported that their respective nursing programs offered an associate's degree of nursing and identified themselves as belonging to a public college or university. The majority of the program directors (92%) indicated that their nursing programs did use standardized tests and applied scores toward final course grades (65.3%). However, high-stakes testing was found to have occurred within a minority of the nursing programs in this study. Inconsistencies were noted among the nursing programs with regard to who determined the test benchmarks and percentages to award based on test results.

Results from the linear regression model indicated that only beginning practice had a significant positive relationship with competencies presented in nursing programs. This regression model accounted for 33% of the variance in competencies presented within nursing programs (R2 = 0.331). No evidence of curricular narrowing was found.


National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses; Nursing—Education; Test bias; Testing--Standards


Education | Nursing

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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