SALEM — State regulators have removed the warning status that had been placed on the the Salem State University School of Nursing last year for low test scores and other deficiencies.

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing voted unanimously on July 10 to reinstate full approval of the school's undergraduate registered nurse program. In a letter to the school, the state's nursing education coordinator said Salem State had provided "satisfactory evidence" of compliance with state regulations and was granted full approval status.

Linda Frontiero, associate dean of the Salem State School of Nursing, called the reinstatement a "quick and positive outcome" for the school.

In a statement, Frontiero said the school's nursing students had an 89% pass rate on the NCLEX national licensing test in 2018, well above the required 80%.

"We are on track for a similarly successful NCLEX pass rate this year," Frontiero said.

The Board of Registration in Nursing began reviewing the school in 2017 after noting that passing rates for graduates on the national exam for registered nurses were below the required 80% for two years in a row.

A review of the program found that it did not meet the requirements of seven state regulations governing nursing education programs. Among the other deficiencies were the lack of a full-time program administrator and the fact that several applicants had been admitted to the program despite not meeting the school's own standards for minimum grade-point average and SAT scores.

The board placed the nursing school on warning status in May 2018.

Frontiero said the School of Nursing increased support services for nursing students to help them on the national nurse licensing test. The school also filled an associate dean position that allowed greater administrative focus on compliance with state regulations, and implemented a "comprehensive systematic evaluation plan" to measure student benchmarks and program outcomes, she said.

The nursing board directed Salem State to submit quarterly reports to make sure it is complying with the state's evaluation.

Salem State has said that the warning status did not hurt applications to the School of Nursing, which increased in the fall of 2018 to about 1,400. The school accepts about one-third of all applicants.

Salem State opened its School of Nursing more than 30 years ago. It offers both bachelor's and master's degrees and has about 600 students.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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