Evaluation of the Early Alert System as a Nursing Student Success Initiative



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Background: The viability of nursing education programs depends on their licensure exam pass rates. Annual pass rates for the National Council Licensure Examination-RN (NCLEX-RN®) must be 80% or higher for program approval by the Texas Board of Nursing (TBON). Sixty-one RN programs out of 100 across Texas were required to write self-study reports for years 2013- 2015 due to NCLEX-RN® pass rates below 80%. The TBON self-study analysis from 2013- 2015 noted deficiencies in the identification of at-risk students, and remediation plans. Purpose: The present study investigated outcomes of one specific remediation strategy for at-risk students, the Early Alert (EA) system, at an urban community college. The EA system is a collaborative student remediation that the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program has employed since 2013. However, to date, no data have described intervention outcomes in terms of student grades or pass rates. Therefore, this study sought to analyze ADN student outcomes under the Early Alert remediation system. Specifically, this study asked: 1) What was the frequency of passing for students within the EA system? 2) How did the academic advisor contact and completion of the EA process correlate with the student pass rate? Methods: This was a mixed-method study that analyzed archival student-remediation record data from the EA system as well as interviews with advisors. Data included grade outcomes for students referred to the EA system in academic years 2015, 2016, and 2017. Methods used included frequency analysis of passing vs. non-passing grades for EA system participants in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and Spearman’s rho correlation of academic advisor progress recorded in the EA system tracking with student grades. Exploratory analyses were conducted using interviews of advisors to understand other factors that may have affected EA system implementation and student success. Results: In answer to the question of EA system effect on pass rate, the finding was 78% of the nursing students referred to EA system passed while 22% did not (n = 568). However, there was no correlation between student grade and advisor contact (rs = -.008, p = .863). While the results suggest that the majority of students referred to the EA system did pass, the EA system dataset was limited because of the inconsistency of data entry about advisor contact frequency. No information existed about the nature of the advisory and faculty contact. Interviews with advisors indicated that overall the EA system helped to identify at-risk students early enough to address academic and personal issues. Challenges included contacting students in a timely manner with other department responsibilities, getting students to respond to advisor contacts, and closing the loop with improved documentation and communication between faculty and advisor related to student needs and remediation. Future research could include the tracking of faculty contact in remediation efforts, in addition to advisor contact, in regard to student outcomes.



National Council Licensure Examination-RN (NCLEX-RN), Pass rates, Early alert system, Remediation, Nursing student, Nursing education, Progression, Academic advisors, Nursing faculty