Association of Social Work Boards releases data analysis on social work licensing exam pass rates

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Pass rate data broken down by state and individual schools of social work also shared

The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) today released an in-depth trend analysis of pass rate data for its social work licensing exams alongside state and school-level data. ASWB published these data as part of the association’s commitment to participating in data-driven conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

ASWB Chief Executive Officer Stacey Hardy-Chandler, Ph.D., J.D., LCSW, and President, Roxroy A. Reid, MSW, Ph.D., LCSW, released the following statement with the report:

At the core of the social work profession is the ability to acknowledge and honor individuals, not in isolation, but as part of their families and communities. This work—and the ability of social workers to lead change—is built on the foundation of professional standards, legally defined in regulation, that ensure competent and ethical practice. In this way, social work serves as a light for society. It is only natural that the Association of Social Work Boards remains true to its values by leading change within the profession. ASWB plays a key role in supporting and serving the social work community to advance safe, competent, and ethical practices to strengthen public protection. One important way we do this is by developing and maintaining social work licensing examinations that meet rigorous standards, ensuring that they are relevant and reflective of current social work practice.

Now, as part of our commitment to fair and uniform exams for all, ASWB is offering additional insight for our profession. For the first time, ASWB is sharing an in-depth analysis of pass rate data for the social work licensing exams, based on demographic information self-reported by test-takers. We have invested in gathering and analyzing these data through a collaboration with our partners at Human Resources Research Organization, a psychometric consulting firm. We are publishing the findings as part of the association’s commitment to participating in data-driven conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

This report, the 2022 ASWB Exam Pass Rate Analysis, is an important starting point in a collective process to better help all test-takers be equally prepared for success on the examinations. By establishing a baseline, these data will enable a conversation about how the profession collectively gets from where we are now to where we want to be. In this new analysis, we observe that pass rates for some demographic groups are lower than for others, highlighting the need to identify potential steps that ASWB can take to address these differences while adhering to the public protection mandate that guides its mission.

ASWB continues to refine its exam development processes and is taking actions that will enhance its already validated examination program, including:

    • Continuing to evaluate all aspects of the licensing exam development process, beginning with an in-depth review of item generation, and then implementing a comprehensive, user-centered investigation of test-takers’ experiences
    • Offering a collection of free resources designed for social work educators to help them understand the exams and candidate performance so they can better prepare their students for the exams and to increase access to exam resources
    • Bringing a greater diversity of voices into the exam creation process through the Social Work Workforce Coalition
    • Hosting community input sessions to expand the range of perspectives involved in the creation of the next iteration of the exams
    • Launching the Social Work Census, an in-depth survey of social workers, to better understand who today’s social work practitioners are and what they do

These actions, like this report, represent initial steps that reflect social work values and uphold ASWB’s mission to protect the public from harm. The association looks forward to supporting all test-takers in their journey toward licensure and remains committed to serving its member boards by investing in identifying and enhancing opportunities for social workers to obtain and maintain licensure.

We invite all interested members of the profession to join ASWB on this journey. It is in the power of our collective action that meaningful change can truly take hold.

To view the full 2022 ASWB Exam Pass Rate Analysis report, pass rates broken down by state and/or school of social work, visit Contributing to the Conversation.