Reenvisioning competence assessment:
Looking forward to 2024

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Timeline showing a list of initiatives for the social work licensing exams in 2024.

As we enter 2024, the ASWB examination program is looking forward to realizing many long-anticipated changes and initiatives. We are transitioning out of a year of planning and preparation and into a year of goals completed. Read more for details on what’s coming in the new year!

Transition to PSI

The partnership with our new exam administration vendor, PSI, will launch on January 2, 2024, when the first ASWB test-takers sit for their exams at PSI test centers. Preparations for this day have included an updated ASWB Examination Guidebook, lots of candidate communication, and coordination of myriad details.

Background on selection of PSI

As the contract with Pearson VUE came to an end, ASWB had the responsibility to ensure its exam administration vendor meets the needs of the association related to alignment with values, a strong candidate focus, and financial responsibility. After a thorough proposal process, the ASWB Board of Directors chose PSI.

We are looking forward to a year of accomplishments and renewed energy.
— Lavina Harless, ASWB senior director of examination services

We concluded that the cultures and values of ASWB and PSI align — particularly around diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts — and that working together would enhance ASWB’s services to exam candidates. We also expect this partnership to result in increased efficiencies for staff and test-takers. And, with our need to move into secure, online proctored exams, it made sense to work with a vendor that has supported more than 80 other clients as they transitioned to a multi-modal (in-person or online testing) solution.

Partnering to reduce financial barriers for repeat test-takers

Together, ASWB and PSI will pursue initiatives designed to support candidates’ paths to licensure, including the establishment of a scholarship fund for repeat test-takers. Each organization has pledged to contribute to a fund for future outreach to and support for test-takers, particularly those from historically marginalized communities.

Improving accessibility through a secure, online remote option for exam administration

Slated for implementation in mid-2024, ASWB and PSI will offer candidates the option of taking their exam at a location of their choosing through secure, online remote exam administration. Learn more about the online exam administration process on the PSI website.

Social Workers Count:
The Social Work Census

Set to launch at the beginning of Social Work Month in March 2024, and continue through May, the Social Work Census is a workforce survey and analysis of the practice of social work, designed to reach more social workers and social service workers than ever before. Through the promotional efforts of the Social Work Workforce Coalition and our member boards — as well as by offering the census in English, French, and Spanish — ASWB expects to build an inclusive picture of the workforce and what constitutes social work competence for safe and ethical practice.

A venn diagram with a purple circle saying "Workforce study" on the left and a blue circle saying "practice analysis" on the right. In the center where they overlap is the logo for the Social Work Census.

Analysis of the practice of social work

The findings of the census will serve as the basis for the next iteration of the entry-to-practice competence assessment. The responses to the knowledge questions on the survey will help the Practice Analysis Task Force understand what today’s social workers need to know to enter practice safely and ethically.

Workforce study

A workforce study will form a significant part of the Social Work Census, allowing ASWB to give back to the profession and beyond. The findings, to be published in late 2024, will help to develop a better understanding of today’s social work workforce.

Research and pass rate analysis publication

To follow up on the 2022 ASWB Exam Pass Rate Analysis, ASWB is conducting additional qualitative research, including the Community Conversations and research on data from the first year of use of FifthTheory’s Test Mastery Inclusion program.

In summer 2024, ASWB will continue publication of its analysis of disaggregated exam pass rate data, to be presented alongside further independent research designed to contextualize the findings and provide additional insights to the regulatory community and the broader profession.

Additionally, we have invested in research to further analyze the exam pass rate data to identify individual, school, and community factors that affect candidates’ exam performances. This research will provide additional context for and further insight into the exam pass rate data published in 2022.

ASWB is also in the early stages of exploring a research collaboration with an HBCU to obtain access to more granular information about the predictors of success on the licensing exams.

Practice Analysis Task Force

A new Practice Analysis Task Force is convened whenever ASWB conducts its regular update of the exam’s content outline. The 32 members of the current task force gathered in 2022 to provide oversight to developing content outlines for the exam update launching in 2026. At their 2023 meeting, they reviewed each knowledge and task statement on the current content outlines and collaborated to update the statements. In September 2024, they will compile the results of the practice analysis section of the Social Work Census and develop the content outlines — or exam blueprints — that will guide the development of the next iteration of competence assessments for social work licensing.

At the core of its plans for 2024 is ASWB’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice through reenvisioning competence assessment. ASWB pledges to continue to explore additional valid and reliable assessment models that may help promote inclusion and fairness in the social work licensing process.

“We are looking forward to a year of accomplishments and renewed energy,” said Lavina Harless, ASWB senior director of examination services. “As we enter the implementation stage of several initiatives, we will continue to look ahead at what more we can do to support social workers on their paths to licensure while continuing to uphold our commitment to supporting public protection.”