Practice Analysis Task Force meets to officially launch development of competence assessments for the future of social work

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Photograph of four people sitting at a conference table. They are facing a speaker who is outside the frame. One of them is taking notes.
Practice Analysis Task Force Members Blake McCullough (MI), Courtney McFadden (VA), Theresa Flowers (AR), and Melvin Cheatem (MN)

ASWB recently took a major step forward in building competence assessments for the future of social work when a group of volunteers gathered for a working meeting. The Practice Analysis Task Force, composed of social workers selected for expertise and diversity, met in Reston, Virginia, September 7–9, 2023. They used a consensus framework to review and discuss every knowledge and task statement that appears on the content outlines for the current exam and make deletions, additions, and revisions.

The next step in developing the competence measures to be introduced in 2026 is to garner input from thousands of social workers on the importance of each element of the content outline to entry-level competence. That effort launches during Social Work Month, March 2024, when social workers will be invited to participate in the Social Work Census. Led by the Social Work Workforce Coalition, a group of social work organizations, the large-scale survey will go beyond analyzing social work practice for use in building competence assessments. It will also gather robust demographic and workforce data to better inform the leading social work organizations as they fulfill their missions in support of the profession.

The practice analysis process is being facilitated by staff from the independent firm Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO). During the September meeting, skilled experts worked with small groups in an inclusive process designed to ensure that every social work subject matter volunteer had input into the list of knowledge and task statements.

During the closing session, task force members reflected on the value of their time spent together. Many commented that they felt gratified to have participated in such important work and believed they had spent their time in a meaningful way. “Going through the list while sitting beside other members of this diverse group,” one task force member said, “confirmed for me that the work is being done by real social workers.”

The task force will meet again in fall of 2024 to use the survey results to inform the blueprint for the next iteration of competence assessments for social work licensing.