Friday, February 22, 2013
The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) has voted to raise the passing standard for the National Certification Examination (NCE). The passing standard is the level of knowledge or ability that must be demonstrated in order to achieve a passing score on the NCE. Effective January 1, 2014, all graduates who take the exam will be measured by the new standard.
The NBCRNA periodically evaluates the passing standard to ensure it reflects current expectations for competent professional performance at entry-level. The Board's decision to raise the passing standard recognizes that healthcare in general and the provision of anesthesia services grow ever more complex, requiring practitioners to have greater knowledge and skills. The new standard will continue to provide assurance to the public that entry-level nurse anesthetists possess the knowledge required to provide anesthesia care.
The NBCRNA Board of Directors accepted the recommendation to increase the passing standard made by a panel of certified registered nurse anesthetists who met to analyze the appropriateness of the current standard for the certification examination. Periodic standard-setting studies are required by our own accrediting agencies, and the procedure we follow is firmly grounded in the testing literature and used by numerous other credentialing bodies, including the National Council of State Boards of Nursing in its NCLEX examination. Subject matter experts representing a diverse sample of anesthesia providers throughout the United States participated in the standard-setting meeting. The panel members were nurse anesthetists who were identified primarily for their familiarity with the skills and knowledge necessary for entry-level practice. They were selected to represent a variety of regions, work settings (urban vs. rural), ethnicities and gender. The panel followed the same Bookmark Method that was used when the passing standard was last adjusted in 2008 to reach consensus on a recommended passing standard. The NBCRNA Board of Directors then met and decided to increase the passing standard based on the panel's recommendation. More information on the Bookmark Method of standard-setting is available on the NBCRNA website at http://www.nbcrna.com/certification
Students should know that raising the standard does not mean the individual questions on the NCE will be more difficult. The NCE is adaptive, which means that only questions appropriate to the ability level of the examinee will be administered. Providing early notification of the change will enable schools and examinees to prepare for the NCE.
Charles Vacchiano, PhD, CRNA NBCRNA President