Kentucky Program of Nursing Benchmarks

What are the benchmarks?

Benchmarks provide a measure or tool for assessing programs of nursing. Each program of nursing reports annually on their compliance with six benchmark measurements established in 201 KAR 20:360, Section 4.

What does the Board do with this data?

The Board reviews the compiled benchmarks annually each spring. Action may be taken where specific trends or patterns in benchmark data suggest a need. The Board also refers to this data throughout the year to help guide decision-making.

The Board shares the most recent years of data linked on this webpage to our document library, and requires that each program’s homepage has a visible link to this information.

How are benchmarks calculated?

For each factor considered, what is the benchmark that must be met?

Knowing how each benchmark is calculated is useful in understanding what each figure represents. Each benchmark is given below alongside its calculation and the specific trends that may indicate further review or action (e.g. a site visit) as per 201 KAR 20:360 Section 5(2)(f).

The percentage of a program’s graduates who passed the NCLEX within one (1) year of program completion**. The NCLEX pass rate is the only benchmark calculated on a calendar year, January 1 – December 31.

  • The following trends may suggest need for further evaluation [Ref. 201 KAR 20:360 Section 5(1)]:
    • Where the pass rate average for three (3) consecutive years is below 80%
    • Where the pass rate varies above and below 80%, from year to year, over 5 consecutive years

NCLEX Pass Rates for the years 2016 and 2020 were calculated using data on first time test takers who tested within one (1) year of program completion. For the years 2017 to 2019, the pass rate was calculated using data on first time test takers within six (6) months of program completion.


Turnover is the percentage of didactic faculty employed full time or part-time who left employment during the academic year, beginning July 1 and ending June 30.

Note: this figure includes faculty who retired, resigned, or were terminated. Some programs of nursing may only have a few nursing faculty members. For example, a program with three faculty members will have a turnover rate of 30% if just one faculty member retires.


The number of program administrators who left employment during the academic year, beginning July 1 and ending June 30. At any given time, a program will have only one program administrator who has been appointed by the governing institution. This figure includes program administrators who retired, resigned, were terminated, and includes interim program administrator appointments.


The number of program administrators who left employment during the academic year, beginning July 1 and ending June 30. At any given time, a program will have only one program administrator who has been appointed by the governing institution. This figure includes program administrators who retired, resigned, were terminated, and includes interim program administrator appointments. The percentage of students who entered the program at the same time and completed/graduated from the program within the maximum timeframe allowed by that program. The calculation period begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.

All students admitted in that original cohort must be included in the calculation rate, regardless of whether or not a national nursing accreditation body would include a student or not in their own calculation of graduation rate. If a student in a cohort decides to take a break for a term or two before returning to their coursework, that student is to be included in their original cohort’s graduation calculation.



This percentage is calculated based on the total number of nursing faculty who filed a substantiated grievance or appeal during the academic year, beginning July 1 and ending June 30. Here, “nursing faculty” includes all individuals employed full-time, part-time, or adjunct (“as needed”) to provide didactic (classroom) or clinical instruction. In order to meet the benchmark a program of nursing will have received substantiated grievances from 25% or less than the total number of nursing faculty.



This percentage is calculated based on the total number of students enrolled in the program of nursing who filed a substantiated grievance/appeal during the academic year, beginning July 1 and ending June 30. To meet the benchmark, the number of substantiated student grievances and appeals shall be less than 10% of the total student population.



Definitions and Frequently Asked Questions

A formal, written grievance (complaint) or appeal filed under the college/university grievance policy that was resolved in a formal manner.

Determined by multiplying the standard program length by 1.5.

Individual who oversees or manages a program of nursing on a day-to-day basis. The program administrator may be the Dean of the college or university, chair of a department, or may be appointed by the university specifically to run a program of nursing.

Each program of nursing reports annually on their compliance with six benchmark measurements established by KBN in 201 KAR 20:360, Section 4. Most benchmarks are calculated using data from the preceding fiscal year, July 1 – June 30, except for the NCLEX Pass Rate benchmark, which utilizes data from the calendar year (January 1 – December 31).

For example, at the end of 2019, programs of nursing provided data to the Board regarding NCLEX pass rates for the calendar year end December 31, 2019, together with data pertaining to the other five benchmarks for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018 and ending June 30, 2019.


Benchmark data for the most recent reporting period is typically released to the public following the Board’s review and approval of all benchmark data at the April board meeting each year. If the data is approved at the April meeting, the information will typically become available on the KBN website within two weeks’ time, if not sooner.

An open records request will need to be submitted. Please refer to our Legal page and the instructions provided there for making an open records request.

Every program has a maximum time frame, that is 1.5 times the standard amount of time needed to complete the program, if a student “normally” progresses. Normal progression refers to students who take the course load specified by the program’s course sequencing and maintain at least the minimum GPA allowed by that program for progression. For example, a program of nursing has a curriculum for an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) that is four (4) semesters long for students who progress “normally”.

For that ADN program, if we looked a cohort admitted in the Fall (i.e. a set of students who all began the program at the same time for the first time), we would consider students who graduate within the specified 4 semesters to have graduated on time (100%). If any of those students graduate need additional time, for example, graduates once 6 semesters are completed, then they have still graduated within the maximum time frame allowed for graduation (150%).

Note: If a student takes a break from their program and later resumes it, regardless of the reason, then that student is still considered part of the original cohort for that program.

Example of Associate Degree Programs that Admit New Students Twice Each Year

Calculating Graduation Rates

Fall 2017

Spring 2018

Fall 2018

Spring 2019

Spring 2018

Fall 2018

Spring 2019

Fall 2019

Fall 2018

Spring 2019

Fall 2019

Spring 2020

Spring 2019

Fall 2019

Spring 2020

Fall 2020

On time Completion and/or Graduation

On time Completion and/or Graduation

On time Completion and/or Graduation

On time Completion and/or Graduation

Fall 2019

Spring 2020

Fall 2020

Spring 2021

Spring 2020

Fall 2020

Spring 2021

Fall 2021

1.5 Program completion allowance per regulation

1.5 Program completion allowance per regulation

1.5 Program completion allowance per regulation

1.5 Program completion allowance per regulation


The above table looks at an example Associate Degree Nursing program that is four semesters in length (for normal progression) and admits twice yearly. If a student enters the program in Fall 2017, on time completion would happen upon the conclusion of Spring 2019. If the student completes the program in semester 5 (Fall 2019) or semester 6 (Spring 2020), that student would still complete the program within the allowed 1.5 maximum time frame. In this example, the program’s graduation rate would decrease should any students complete the program at any point after semester 7 begins.