NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) -- Dillard University officials announced Tuesday afternoon that it would not be accepting any new students into its nursing program during the 2017-18 academic year while the program’s curriculum is being evaluated.

Officials said the state board of nursing approached the university with concerns over the number of students passing the exam to become certified.

In order to pass, the board asks for 80 percent of students pass the exam.

“Right now, our current pass rate is 50 percent,” said David Grubb, director of communications. “We need to get to that 80 percent number.”

He explained freezing admissions will give administrators the opportunity to evaluate why students aren't passing the examination.

“We are evaluating everything from what the school does curriculum and teaching-wise to trying to get a profile of those students who are successful,” Grubb said. “But ultimately we will be judged by those scores. We are confident that what we are doing now will not be easy in the short-term but is what's best for the program in the long term.”

Students are allowed to apply to the program for their sophomore year, so the announcement affects prospective students wanting to attend Dillard this fall.

“Students who are freshman right now who’ve applied and been accepted, they’ll still be able to go forward,” said Grubb.

Administrators said the move is proactive.

“Dillard University is home to Louisiana’s first bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program,” said Dr. Yolanda Page, vice president of academic affairs, in a statement. “We owe it to our alumni and current students to ensure that the Dillard legacy of excellence in nursing remains intact.”

Dillard nursing alumni said it’s smart to reevaluate the program before accreditation becomes an issue.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Dorian Webster, Jr., a 2013 graduate of the program. “They’re taking the initiative and trying to figure out what’s going on internally so that they can fix it for current and future students.”

Webster said that during his time in the program, the curriculum was challenging, but changes in the faculty were not uncommon.

“I just think that Dillard has been in a transitional period,” Webster explained. “When I was in the program, we saw three different leaders in the role of nursing program chair. Everybody has their own philosophy as far as education is concerned and what you think is required of a student. It definitely had an effect on my experience.”

What the decision also effects is the future care of patients where graduates will be working.

“You’re directly responsible for someone’s care,” said Webster. “You definitely want someone who is taking care of you to be prepared.”