ASWB Completes Practice Analysis; to Launch New Exam Blueprints in 2018
The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) has released new blueprints for the social work licensing exams based on the results of its sixth and most recent practice analysis, conducted in 2015 to 2016. The primary aim of the practice analysis is to examine the current state of social work practice in the United States and Canada and use the results to update the licensure blueprints—or content outlines—of knowledge, skills, and abilities statements used to create the social work licensure exams developed and maintained by ASWB. The exams measure the knowledge required for competent, entry-level social work practice and are used by all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and two Canadian provinces as part of the criteria to determine a licensure candidate's minimum competence to practice social work. The 2017 Analysis of the Practice of Social Work report detailing the process and outcomes of this survey of the social work profession is now available.
Participation in the practice survey was the largest in the history of ASWB's practice analyses, with more than 23,000 responses. U.S. respondents were licensed in every U.S. state and territory, with the exception of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. In addition, all 10 Canadian provinces were represented.
"This analysis is especially powerful because of the impressive level of engagement we received from the social work profession," says Lavina Harless, MSW, LCSW, ASWB director of examination development. "We built the 2018 blueprints on an analysis of nearly five times the survey responses used for the previous study. We were pleased to find that this much larger sample revealed that no major changes were necessary for the content of the next round of exams to be released."
The content areas and the weights derived from the 2015 to 2016 practice analysis are generally consistent with the previous practice analysis outcomes, with average adjustments of 1% to 2% among various content areas. The majority of the changes have to do with reorganization of content areas, along with an attempt to create greater uniformity on content terminology across the Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical exam categories. "While each of these exams tests different parameters of social work knowledge and skills, the tests now share a similar set of descriptive terms describing content," Harless explains.
Licensing exams using the new blueprints will be launched on January 2, 2018. Until that date, test takers will be tested using the current blueprints.