School of Social Work

No. 28 M.S.W. Program in the U.S.

Dear social work community,

We are writing following the release of Social Work licensure pass rate findings from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).  

We have been actively listening, reading and processing the impact of these findings on our profession, and engaging in thoughtful dialogue about how to best support our graduates and students in light of this information.  

ASWB is the organization that brings together state licensing boards and oversees social work licensing exams. The exams themselves are created and administered by Pearson. The data released by ASWB shows alarming disparities particularly and disproportionately affecting Black practitioners and communities. Additionally, although we know disparities exist among standardized testing in general, it is particularly striking in the social work exam.  

As a school of social work committed to social and racial justice, we recognize that anti-racist pedagogy is not just about the explicit curriculum. It is also about the structures in which our graduates advance and are expected to display mastery and competency. 

For social work practitioners and educators, there is concern about the impact of these disparities on our graduates and the communities they serve. We are grateful that the release of the data has ignited discussion about the reform and work that must be done, and we will continue to actively engage in these discussions. Social work educators are joining this dialogue through multiple organizations, including the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD), the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors (BPD), the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE).

We encourage our graduates to engage in this discussion and in advocacy as well. In preparation for joining this dialogue you may find the following material helpful:

As members of the VCU School of Social Work community, we have an important role to play in these dialogues and advocacy efforts to advance positive change. Please join us and stay involved in this conversation, as we work collectively to dismantle injustice.  

Rebecca Gomez signature

Rebecca Gomez, Ph.D., LCSW
Interim Dean and Associate Professor

Denise Burnette signature

Denise Burnette, Ph.D.
Ph.D. Program Director

Nicole Lynn Lee signature

Nicole L. Lee, Ph.D.
M.S.W. Program Director

Stephanie Odera signature

Stephanie G. Odera, Ed.D.
B.S.W. Program Director

Categories Alumni, Community, Education, From the dean
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