The big underlying point of controversy in the use of the HESI test as an exit exam is that schools
that do a really lousy job of educating the students are using the exam to "hide" the fact that their students are not prepared to pass the NCLEX when they finish their coursework. The schools are passing the students along (taking their money) and not teaching the students what they need to know to succeed in nursing.
Because most people look at the NCLEX pass rate as an indication of the quality of a school ... and many State Boards will actually close a school that does not maintain an acceptable pass rate ... the bad schools can't allow the students to take the NCLEX. So, they use the HESI to screen out those most likely to fail the NCLEX. thus maintaining an acceptable NCLEX pass rate and stay open.
So ... the students are the big losers. They pay money to the school that does not provide good education. At the end, they have "college credit," but no diploma and no endorsement to take the NCLEX. The school takes the money and has no need to improve the education provided because the NCLEX pass rate is acceptable.
It's happening at 2 schools in my area. A third school does't use HESI (I don't think), but gives frequent tests and works the students very hard. They definitely weed out people who are less likely to pass the NCLEX, but don't do a good job of providing education -- particularly on the clinical aspects of nursing. Lots of students either quit the program or flunk out -- but of course by then, the school has collected a lot of money from them.
It's a shame -- but it's not really illegal or anything. These schools are providing a gateway for people to enter the nursing profession -- but a gateway that only works for people who are good test-takers. These schools are not doing a good job of education, but they are providing a service to those who choose to go to their programs. If you can pass the classes (and the tests), they will endorse you to take the NCLEX. For someone who is a strong independent learner, it works.
But for students who need to be nurtured a bit and actively TAUGHT nursing, these programs do a lousy job. And if the students don't realize what they are signing up for when they enroll in such a program .... well ... as the old saying goes, "buyer beware." The attitude is: The students are adults who should research the program before investing their time and money. I don't like it and I am hoping that such schools start losing their NLN and/or AACN accreditations as it becomes more apparent what is actually happening.