In a continuance of the premiere entry, we note more changes that will appear on ASWB’s Exam Outline and KSAs from their 2017 Analysis of the Practice of Social Work starting January 1, 2018.
The demographics of the profession have not changed much. Eighty-eight percent of the sample was female. Eighty-two percent were full-time employees. Seventy-eight percent had a MSW and fifty- three percent were direct service providers. One third of the responders worked in a not-for-profit organization. The primary setting for the largest number of respondents was mental health or behavioral health (54%) followed by medical, hospital or health services (28%), children’s services (27%) and advocacy (24%). ASWB claims a high inner rate-reliability on this survey, though allowing that, given the different setting and types of work, some variation can be expected. Subject matter experts were used to evaluate the knowledges needed to perform groups of tasks.
To this reader’s eye, this exam list of KSAs reflect much more of the current events and politics of the time. You might for example find more LGBTQ items on the exam or items that deal with immigration and its effect on families. The Masters Exam has a KSA that reads “The impact of immigration, refugee, or undocumented status on service delivery.” On the Clinical Exam we find a KSA that addresses “The impact of globalization on clients/client systems (e.g. interrelatedness of systems, international integration, technology, environmental or financial crisis, epidemics).
FOR THAT REASON IT IS MOST IMPORTANT THAT YOU EMPLOY THE 80% RULE. REMEMBER THIS IS AN EXAM AND NOT A TEST. SO IT IS NOT A QUESTION OF TWO PLUS TWO EQUALLING FOUR (A TEST). RATHER AS AN EXAM YOUR ANSWERS MUST REFLECT THE BELIEFS, VALUES, BIASES AND MYTHS OF THE PROFESSION. CHECK YOUR PERSONAL POLITICAL BELIEFS AND CULTERAL BIASES AT THE DOOR!
There are some subtle changes that are reflected in the exam, beyond the percentage changes. A big one on the Clinical Exam is that the areas of Alcohol and Drugs are enfolded in the section of Human Behavior in the Environment rather than having a separate section, while Diversity and Discrimination now have their own headings.
There is some great news about this updated ASWB product! The KSAs, always important, are far more clearly stated and therefore much more helpful to the candidate. To rate your skills and knowledge and to determine what areas you need to spend more time studying, go to the appendix and review the new KSAs. You should have no problem understanding what is expected of you. Another reality is that while the scenarios may be seated in the hot topics of the day—-immigration or perhaps sexuality, the basic VALUES of social work remain the same: this importance of human dignity, the responsibility of the social worker to advocate for those who are in need of support, and the requirement that we practice ethically and within our scope of expertise.