Coming Together: A Message from Dean Sheryl Kubiak on the Social Work National Licensing Examination

Sheryl KubiakDear Wayne State University School of Social Work Community,

As you may now know, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) - the organization currently responsible for creating, implementing, and monitoring Social Work’s National Licensing Examination - recently released a report documenting exam passage rates across the profession. The report illuminates extreme racial and age biases in the exam, resulting in disparities in the diversity of Social Work’s workforce nationally. This is a travesty to the profession and the communities we serve!

With increasing anecdotal evidence mounting even prior to the requested release of the data, National Association of Deans/Directors (NADD) established a National Licensing Exam Task Force a year ago to elevate the issue and explore alternatives to the existing exam. I am co-chair of that Task Force and very committed to action at the federal, state, local and school level! This includes a 50-state strategy for alternative paths to licensure and the creation of a toolkit to assist organizing in pursuit of regulatory changes.

While I am working nationally organizing responses and long-term action strategies, our WSU School of Social Work faculty and staff are also working to enhance instruction and support of our students. In addition to the practice exam availability for all of our graduates – and the peer mentoring group facilitated by our alumni group – we will now be instituting practice exams into two of our courses in the advanced year. Because our graduates must currently have 4,000 supervised practice hours prior to sitting for the exam, we will also be offering an ongoing Friday ‘lunch and learn’ – facilitated by our faculty – and available to all graduates. These ‘lunch and learn’ sessions may also be supported by your employers, as many of our community partners are willing to offer paid work time for engagement. Our goal with these sessions is to encourage routine studying (not waiting until time to take the exam) and the formation of study groups. Please monitor our SSW Continuing Education website for more information or updates.

The release of the ASWB data on August 5th validates the findings of a recent study of the Michigan data and increases our will to ACT. Our primary concern is to ensure an unbiased assessment process such that achieving status as a professional social worker is accessible to all graduates of our accredited programs.  Our social work values compel us to advocate for fairness and justice. Within our profession these disparities are a disgrace and should not be permitted a minute longer.

I encourage you join us in our change efforts across the state and nation. Stay tuned for further updates and please reach out if we can assist in any way!


Sheryl Kubiak, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Dean, School of Social Work

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