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NASW Metro DC Chapter Statement on Confirmed Racial Disparities in ASWB Social Work Licensing Exam Pass Rate Data

NASW Metro DC Chapter Statement on Confirmed Racial Disparities in ASWB Social Work Licensing Exam Pass Rate Data

On August 5, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) published data in a 2022 ASWB Exam Pass Rate Analysis that disclosed glaring disparities in pass rates among racial groups, particularly for Black test takers, older adults, and other demographic groups.

The report stems from years of advocacy by the National Association of Social Workers and other social work organizations, schools of social work, and individual advocates to push ASWB to post data that it has been unwilling to release for decades.

All social work institutions--including ASWB and licensing boards, NASW and other associations, and social work higher education programs--must openly confront systemic racism within our profession.  We must all commit to the work necessary to enact reforms that ensure the licensing process is equitable for all and protects the public without unnecessary gatekeeping and discrimination.

The NASW Metro DC Chapter is committed to working closely with NASW National leaders and allied organizations to dig deeper into the data and develop a coordinated, timely, solution-focused response to this complex problem and to increase diverse representation at all levels of social work practice.

These are painful issues that raise powerful emotions. Your unique voice as a DC social worker is vital in terms of adding personal insight, trained expertise, and professional experience regarding systemic racism, oppression, and equity. 

Please be assured that the NASW Metro DC Chapter welcomes your comments and ideas. We care deeply about you and your feedback, and we share it with NASW National as well. We encourage any NASW Metro DC member who wants to speak more about the report or offer suggested actions to email Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE, at or call her at 804-204-1339, ext. 201.

The statement by NASW National can be read here.

Together, we can and must call out and address the biases, prejudices, and historic systemic racism that are still harming individuals and certain demographic groups within our social work profession and society as a whole.