Diversity in nursing and challenges with the NCLEX-RN


      • Standardized tests have been shown to disadvantage under-represented minority groups.
      • Nursing continues to use high-stakes, standardized testing for licensure.
      • No agency is publishing sufficient demographic data surrounding the NCLEX-RN.
      • We must determine if nurses are experiencing testing outcomes disparities.
      • NCLEX-RN is one tool out of many to determine nursing competency.


      High-stakes, standardized testing has historically impeded education/career attainment for members of underrepresented minority groups and people needing testing accommodations. This study was to understand how high-stakes, standardized testing, particularly the NCLEX-RN, impacts diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in nursing. This study explored the history, context, perspectives surrounding standardized testing, with a focus on the NCLEX-RN. The authors consider content, form, and delivery of testing, including accommodations. They identify available data and data collection gaps relevant to DEI and the NCLEX-RN. No nursing organization published the national data necessary to evaluate/refine the NCLEX-RN from a DEI perspective. Preliminary nursing studies and data from other professions indicated disparities in testing outcomes. Nursing must determine if prospective nurses are experiencing disparities in testing outcomes. The authors highlight opportunities to advance DEI through improved data collection, reformed licensure processes, and the reframing of standardized testing as one of many tools to determine competency.


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