Licensing Disparities Background and Overview

In August 2023 the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the organization responsible for creating and administering the National Social Work licensing exam, released disaggregated exam pass rates. Across MSW programs, these descriptive data showed disparities in pass rates based on race, age, and primary language. Systemic biases in the exam have undoubtedly contributed to these disparities and must be addressed and remediated. We are committed to identifying and working toward an equitable path to licensure for all MSW students. The resources listed here provide a timeline of what has taken place since August 2023 to understand and remedy this injustice that so personally impacts our school and great community.  


  1. Timeline 
  2. ASWB data detailing pass rate disparities
  3. SSW Task force with recommendations
  4. Senate Bill 0871
  5. SSW DEIC Policy and Advocacy Subcommittee
    • Ongoing work of monitoring, advocating, and advising the SSW has been restructured under the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy and Advocacy Subcommittee, co-chaired by Dawn Shafer and Adam Schneider. This subcommittee works collaboratively with the SSW Policy Advocacy Committee which is largely comprised of MSW students and facilitated by macro faculty.
  6. Other responses from the Social Work Community


August 2022
  • Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) releases data on pass rate disparities based on race, age, and first-language
  • National conversations begin about how to address inequities, including at UMSSW
September 2022

National Deans and Directors convenes working group with SSW leaders

October 2022

UMSSW Convenes task force

December 2022

SSW enhances LMSW exam study preparation and hires a well-respected Black business owner to provide services to all MSW students

January 2023

UMSSW Taskforce report provided to Dean Postmus

March 2023

Bills SB0871 and SB0145 are introduced to Maryland Senate March 30: Hearing

April 2023

SB0871 passes the senate with major revisions. Most significant aspect was the formation of a legislative task force to further examine the causes and potential remedies of pass rate disparities

Summer 2023

Task force is formed via the Maryland General Assembly. First meeting scheduled for October 2023

September 2023

Work of monitoring, advocating, and advising UMSSW is restructured within the Policy and Advocacy Subcommittee of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

October 2023

LMSW exam licensure preparation materials made available to all MSW students (and alumni as requested) via Advanced Social Work Solutions


Continue to advocate for an equitable path to licensure by:

  1. Implementing internal recommendations
  2. Advocating at the legislative level
  3. Collaborating across stakeholder group to increase our efficacy

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