I was interested to learn that measures are being taken to increase the number of certified nursing assistants. I have a suggestion of a measure that would immediately increase the number of CNAs.

What needs to happen is for the current CASAS test cutoff score, which English Language Learners are required to meet, be lowered or, better yet, dropped completely. Many (but not all) nursing assistant certification programs use a high CASAS score that is difficult for English learners to attain. It is important to note that the CASAS adult education assessment test is a reading test that has little relevance to the skills a CNA needs.

In the past I was able to advocate for English students of mine to participate in CNA classes even though they did not meet the CASAS cutoff score. All but one of these students passed the exam (the one student who did not pass passed it on her second attempt), and all of the students became CNAs.

Meanwhile, I have had students be excluded from CNA classes because their test scores just missed the cutoff. Several of these students previously worked in hospitals in their home countries and had excellent communication skills.

If the state is serious about increasing the number of CNAs, then programs that are using high CASAS cutoff scores should be encouraged, if not required, to either end the use of the CASAS test as a screening measure or lower the score significantly.

Bo Hewey

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