Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Faulty analysis in CoA memo on “Subpar Nursing Schools”

Posted by butalidnl on 3 March 2008

In a Philippine Daily Inquirer report on 22 February, the Commission on Audit is said to have urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to phase out nursing programs whose graduates perform badly in state licensure examinations. In the CoA memo said that “from 2001 to 2005, only 111 of 263 nursing schools nationwide managed to have 50 percent of their graduates pass the licensure examinations…” It even went on to say that 19 of these schools had failed to pass even a single student.

I decided to try to find out which schools these were (i.e. the 19 where not a single student passed the board exams). I was able to find a report put out by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) in 2005 on the state of nursing education. In this report, which covered the period of 2000 to 2004 and listed 269 schools, 108 of the schools had 50% or more of their students pass the nursing board exam. [the figures are so close to that cited in the COA report, as you may notice ] In the PCIJ list, there were not only 19 but 42 (! ) schools which had not been able to produce a single passing student.

But let us take a closer look at the 2005 study. [ I will be referring here to the PCIJ report, and this may be slightly different from the data that the CoA may have been referring to] Here are some interesting details:

– out of the 269 schools, only 175 had had students taking the board for 5 years or more. Not a single one of these 175 schools had a 0% result.

– 94 schools had a track record shorter than 5 years, and of these 42 had a 0% average. However, out of these 42 schools, 32 schools had fielded only 1 examinee during these .

– among these 42 schools with the 0% “average” in 2001-2004 are Xavier University and the University of the Philipines – Visayas, Tacloban City. These two schools were among the best performing schools in the December 2007 nursing board exams, with passing percentages of 98% and 100% respectively.

– of the 42 schools with 0% average in the study, 27 of them had not fielded any examinees in the December 2007 nursing board exams.

(For your reference, please refer to the PCIJ tables at: Tables 1,2 ,3 )

From the above, it seems that the person who wrote the CoA report did so only based on overall figures, and did not bother to go into details on the specific schools covered. If the CoA’s proposal was implemented on the “0% schools” back in 2005, many quality schools would have been closed, based only on the failing grade of one examinee.

I believe it would be wrong to look solely into the exam results to judge which are the better nursing schools, and which should be phased out. We know that many schools give their students “pre-board” exams; and those who fail in these are not allowed to take the nursing board. This practice makes it more likely to result in higher passing averages, without necessarily ensuring a good quality of the nursing education given. Also, many provincial nursing schools have a disadvantage (as compared with those in the bigger cities) because the students that go to these provincial schools often have had a lower quality high school education.

I believe the CHEd could best improve the quality of nursing schools by setting higher standards on the quality of the courses themselves e.g. the teachers, facilities, etc.


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