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The Influences of Nursing School Characteristics on NCLEX-RN® Pass Rates: A National Study

National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) – $60,821
11/1/15 – 10/31/16

Schools of nursing are challenged to educate more nurses in the midst of nursing, faculty and clinical placement shortages. These shortages heighten the criticality of guidance from boards of nursing about institutional best practices to educate graduates that demonstrate competency by passing the NCLEX-RN®. This study includes a national survey of schools of nursing designed to explicate the nature of the influence institutional characteristics such as faculty credentials, faculty/student ratios, curriculum composition, and the use of standardized tests have on the NCLEX-RN® pass rates. The results will improve knowledge of the effect that institutional characteristics have on student success and are essential to developing evidence-based regulatory policies.


In 2013, nearly seventeen percent of graduates from programs preparing registered nurses failed the NCLEX-RN® nationwide (NCSBN, 2014). This number was just over eighteen percent in 2014 (NCSBN, 2015). In a comprehensive literature review, no studies were identified during the last decade that explore the impact institutional changes may have had on NCLEX-RN® pass rates nationally. There is a critical need to understand the impact that changing institutional characteristics may have on NCLEX-RN® pass rates. The long term goal for this research is to ensure that BON and schools of nursing are able to prepare students to successfully achieve licensure, the minimal standard for competent nursing practice. The main objective of this study is to conduct a national survey of schools of nursing to identify the impact institutional characteristics have on NCLEX-RN® pass rates. The results from this survey can be used by administrators and leadership from schools of nursing to formulate a justification for programmatic and faculty changes that will increase their college’s ability to prepare students who achieve licensure.

Primary Investigator

Lori Brown
Lori Brown, PhD