An update from ASWB for the social work community

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In line with the continued efforts of the Association of Social Work Boards to make the social work licensing exams as fair and equitable as possible, ASWB has recently committed to enhancing the exam development process to bring in more voices than ever before.

ASWB’s Strategic Framework 2022–2023 directs the organization to engage with stakeholders to educate and increase transparency around the licensing exams as well as explore additional means of assessing competence. One way we are doing this is by gathering, analyzing, and releasing examination performance data broken down by demographic group for our member jurisdictions as well as schools of social work. The Board of Directors approved the investment in an unprecedented review of test-taker–reported records last fall. That research and data analysis are currently under way and will be released later this summer.

The social work licensing exams must remain relevant and reflective of current social work practice as the field grows and evolves. ASWB conducts a survey of social work practice every five to seven years to learn what knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed for competent, safe, and ethical practice upon entry. The survey responses guide the construction of exam content outlines.

As part of the process of creating the new exam content outlines, ASWB is also launching additional actions to gather more input and guidance from the academic community and the overall social work profession:

  • Developing a Social Work Workforce Coalition to provide input into the exam creation process. The coalition will include U.S. and Canadian social work organizations representing a diversity of voices, including the National Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, and the Council on Social Work Education.
  • Hosting community input sessions to expand the range of perspectives involved in the creation of the next iteration of the exams, slated for release in 2025. ASWB is inviting social workers to volunteer to participate in online community input sessions on developing licensing exams for the future of social work.
  • Launching the Social Work Census in 2023 to survey social workers to better understand who today’s social work practitioners are and what they do, helping to ensure the exam reflects the changing nature of the profession.

We are also introducing new tools to support educators as they prepare candidates to succeed on the licensing exams. Later this year, we will offer social work education programs a collection of free resources that includes aggregate performance data, online training in question writing, a guidebook that includes core reference lists, and an educator guide to the exams with group review practice questions.

Our mission remains to provide support and services to the social work regulatory community to advance safe, competent, and ethical practices to strengthen public protection.

We enter this new stage at ASWB with open hearts and minds. We are committed to participating in the conversation around diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice and to contributing to collective solutions that support our members and help to define the social work profession.

We look forward to taking this step with you.