Exam use compliance deadline is here, but there’s some flexibility

Tags: Exams
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June 30 marks the five-year deadline set by the ASWB Board of Directors in 2016 for member boards to comply with exam use policies, and the majority of boards that use the exams have done so. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed things down considerably as emergency orders changed the landscape of regulation and stay at home orders challenged boards to find new ways of operating. The ASWB Board and staff recognize these challenges and have made plans for supporting members’ efforts to come into compliance with policy after the June 30 deadline passes.

Exam use compliance remains an important initiative, and we are committed to supporting our members in their efforts to address multiple competing priorities.
— CEO Dwight Hymans

These plans include bringing recent member board requests to the August Board meeting for the Board to address and reviewing where all member boards are with respect to compliance with policy. “While we are willing to be flexible with boards that are working toward compliance, it is time to take more deliberate steps to be in communication with those boards that have taken no action,” said ASWB CEO Dwight Hymans. Staff will be issuing compliance reports in late summer or early fall to all member boards and contacting boards that have not communicated with ASWB during the five-year compliance window.

Lessons learned

Over the past five years, ASWB staff has worked with member boards to help them meet the mandate of the 2016 Board of Directors. The Board’s decision to require exam use compliance was driven by concerns that validity and defensibility could be eroded over time if members continued to use the exams outside of policy. The Board offered three options to allow members to come into compliance over the five-year time frame: request a waiver, discontinue using the exams for the noncompliant purpose, or change their laws, rules, or policies.

“One thing the past five years have taught us,” said Hymans, “is that some waiver requests related to when license applicants take their exam do not adversely affect exam validity and defensibility.” Those requests include allowing BSW students to sit for the Bachelors exam and MSW students to sit for the Masters exam in the last semester of their education and allowing license applicants to sit for the Clinical exam after a minimum of 18 months of supervised clinical experience. The ASWB Board has consistently granted requests for waivers based on these exceptions. “Depending on what the compliance reports tell us,” said Hymans, “it is possible that adding these exceptions to policy to streamline compliance might be another staff recommendation to the ASWB Board.”

After June 30

While the June 30 deadline still stands per the 2016 ASWB Board’s decision, staff and the current Board of Directors understand the pressures member boards are experiencing. “As COVID restrictions ease and temporary licensing provisions expire, member boards will face new challenges dealing with these realities,” said Hymans. “Exam use compliance remains an important initiative, and we are committed to supporting our members in their efforts to address multiple competing priorities.”