We use HESI entrance exams for our candidates applying for entry into our program, and we also have always used the HESI exams throughout our program (worth 10% of their exam grade for the various nursing courses), and then we require a score of 850 on the Exit HESI in the final semester to graduate (with multiple chances). This has always been a point of contention with the students and a part of teaching with which I have struggled. I questioned the validity of these standardized tests and doubted whether they truly measured entry level competency (and still do). However, I am learning that these standardized tests really do prepare the students for NCLEX. I have only been formally teaching a couple of years, but recently had several students who graduated tell me the HESI's were a great preparation for the NCLEX and that they appreciated them. I have been at the bedside for a long time, and when I came to teach in the classroom, I knew I could really help prepare them for practice (and I mean good quality practice), but worried about my ability to prepare them for these standardized tests that I felt (and still sort of feel) are not really a measure of good practice. However, I have seen a true correlation in students ability to pass these standardized tests and pass NCLEX (whether I think passing NCLEX means they are ready for entry level practice is a whole n'other can of worms).
I am not preaching HESI only, but that is the only standardized testing that I have worked with, and I do feel to prepare students to pass NCLEX, the routine standardized testing helps (be that HESI, or KAPLAN, or ATI, etc.). In fact, in our upcoming program revision, we will be using both HESI & Kapaln focused tests throughout our program to compare the two.
But, I also feel that to prepare them for practice, and to prepare them to catch and prevent bad things from happening in real practice, we need to teach current real practice. Everyone talks about the gap between theory & practice, and I honestly feel that comes from the workload on faculty. It is honestly not possible for me to work any bedside hours right now with the class load and work load given to faculty that are staff (not adjunct). I put in about 60-70 hours/week prepping for class, revising curriculum, sitting on committees, etc.... Even Registry is not much of an option for me because our local big healthcare system has their own registry and they require at least 3 days/month of work (which is just about every weekend). I did not go into to teaching to leave the bedside. I loved the bedside, but I feel pushed away from the bedside in order to be faculty....
Anyway, that is going off on a tangent from standardized testing.