Some problems can have large impacts, and still go unnoticed by the public and policymakers. ASWB’s racist exams for social work licensure are a great example. When people learn of the problem, they tend to be rightly horrified. But most people don’t know about the problem. A letter to the editor of your local newspaper can be a great way to raise awareness of this issue. Here’s a quick guide to writing one.
This week, legislators in Maryland introduced a pair of bills (SB0871, SB0872) to let clinical social workers get licensed without first taking the ASWB Clinical Exam. Other jurisdictions are likely to follow. The current social work exams, like all clinical exams in mental health care, simply don’t work. Worse, they fail in remarkably biased ways. Professionals, the policymakers, and the public are all catching on to the sham.
The California Board of Behavioral Sciences will discuss clinical exams this Friday. My colleague Tony Rousmaniere and I decided to dig into these exams, beyond just the horrifying report ASWB released this summer. (TLDR: Wildly disparate passing rates by race/ethnicity.) While I’m previously on record as not a fan of clinical exams, they’re widely accepted. We figured we would follow where the data leads us. And so here it is:
Following the release of a horrifying report from the Association of Social Work Boards acknowledging significant racial disparities in license exam performance, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has written to social work boards across the country urging them to pause the use of ASWB social work licensing exams.
On Friday, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) released a report detailing four years of data on its various exams. The report shows that white examinees were almost twice as likely as Black examinees to pass the ASWB Clinical Exam on their first attempt. This data supports the notion that license exams are more than passive recipients of existing inequities in training, and instead actively heighten racial disparities in the mental health work force.