Collage of images of nature

With the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was challenging for social work regulatory boards, exam candidates, and ASWB. The exams tell the story of the year, reflecting the emergency orders that shut down much of life around the world, and the slow reopening and adjusting to new safety protocols.

Follow the trajectory of ASWB operations against this backdrop in this 2020 Annual Report. The story—from the transition in leadership in May to the association’s first virtual Annual Meeting of the Delegate Assembly in November to the anti-racism statement made by the Board of Directors in response to the renewed focus on racial and social justice—is one of resilience, adaptability and agility, and commitment to the mission of public protection.


2020 ASWB Board of Directors

Photograph of ASWB's Board of Directors

Lisa Crockwell (NL), Timothy Martel Brown (TX), Beatrice Traub-Werner (ON), Kenneth Middlebrooks (MN), Harold Dean (AR), Kate Zacher-Pate (MN), Brian Philson (MI), Kim Madsen (CA), Roxroy Reid (NM), Deborah Jones (BC), Thomas Brooks (MN)

March 11, 2020

Image of a tweet from the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic.

The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic.

March 17, 2020

Pearson VUE suspends all test delivery in the United States and Canada.

ASWB expands communication to members, exam candidates

ASWB expands communication to members, exam candidates

ASWB expands communications to members and exam candidates to keep them informed as pandemic shutdowns affect social workers and social work regulators.

  • serves as a hub for information about test delivery and emergency regulatory provisions.
  • The association update launches with weekly emails to ASWB members; updates continue weekly until July, when the pace slows to biweekly.
  • ASWB collaborates with NASW and CSWE to create Social Work Responds, a biweekly publication focusing on the impacts of the pandemic on the broader social work community.

ACE extends approval for remote learning

ASWB’s Approved Continuing Education program creates a simple process so that ACE providers approved for in-person formats can be temporarily approved to offer distance learning courses.

April 7, 2020

Pearson VUE test centers in the United States and Canada extend suspension of test delivery until May 1, 2020.

April 7, 2020

Pearson VUE adds social work licensing exam candidates to the  list of essential workers allowed to test. A small number of test centers open on a limited basis for testing these individuals.

Dwight J. Hymans becomes CEO

Dwight J. Hymans becomes CEO

The selection of Hymans, a 13-year staff member, provides continuity of leadership that will be a strength to ASWB as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts lives and businesses.

May 1, 2020

Pearson VUE resumes testing operations, but scheduling is limited because of COVID-19 safety guidelines. These guidelines vary by jurisdiction.

Customer service adapts

The exam administration team provides customer service by email after offices close. Team members send more than 47,000 email responses to inquiries from exam candidates.

Member board attendance

As social work regulatory boards shift to virtual meetings, ASWB staff can attend more meetings of our member boards—a total of 10 meetings in 8 different jurisdictions in 2020.

Exam development remains active during shutdown

Photograph of Keeva Hartley

ASWB’s examination development program moves routine meetings online for the year, with form reviewers and Exam Committee members meeting remotely to continue their critical work. Staff and consultants work together to create an online refresher course for experienced item writers. This plan proves prescient in light of travel restrictions and public health concerns, as ASWB’s team of experienced item development consultants are able to record modules from home and manage the training through an online learning platform.

Killing of George Floyd

Mural in memory of George Floyd

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer sparks weeks of heated protests around the world.

ASWB volunteers step up to keep the association running

ASWB volunteers step up to keep the association running

With the cancellation of in-person events—including the 2020 Education Meeting—the work of the association’s committees moves online. The Bylaws and Resolutions Committee, Regulation and Standards Committee, Regulatory Education and Leadership Committee, and Nominating Committee meet remotely during the summer. ASWB holds its first online New Board Member Training in August 2020. In all, the association hosts 31 online meetings for our members, with a total of 290 attendees.

ASWB headquarters opens to staff

Photograph of employee in an office

ASWB headquarters opens to staff on a voluntary basis after local health and safety requirements are adjusted to allow businesses to reopen.

ASWB adds legislative tracking tool

ASWB adds legislative tracking tool

A new tool on the website includes specialized tracking of legislation affecting social work regulation.

ASWB Board of Directors designates Juneteenth as staff day of service, celebration, and learning

At the recommendation of staff leadership, the ASWB Board of Directors unanimously votes to designate Juneteenth as a day of leave for ASWB staff to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the region.

ASWB provides financial aid disclosure data

In response to new federal rules for college financial aid, ASWB develops a suite of tools to help social work degree programs comply. The rules require degree-granting academic programs to disclose whether their curriculum meets standards for professional licensure.

Lower expenses offset decreased revenue

Graph showing $1.5 million in expenses for 2019 and 120,000 in expenses for 2020.

Because of ASWB’s commitment to getting input from our member boards, travel and meetings make up a large portion of ASWB’s expenses in a typical year. With the lockdowns and travel restrictions of 2020, the pivot to virtual meetings more than offsets the association’s revenue losses from the suspension of exam delivery.

Texas contracts with ASWB to provide exam preapproval services

Graph showing number of applications and preapprovals ASWB processed in 2020

The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council contracts with ASWB to provide preapproval services for social work licensing applicants. Because ASWB has the infrastructure in place to collect information and process it quickly, the service launches 60 days after the initial agreement with Texas is finalized.

Annual Meeting of the Delegate Assembly moves online

Annual Meeting of the Delegate Assembly logo

Delegates hear full reports about the exam program and the association’s financial standing through an online meeting platform.

ASWB Board of Directors recognizes the work of all social work regulators

In lieu of individual awards to recognize outstanding regulatory administrators and regulatory board members, the ASWB Board of Directors uses the annual meeting as an opportunity to thank all social work regulators for their flexibility and resilience in 2020.

ASWB Board of Directors adopts anti-racism statement

ASWB Board of Directors adopts anti-racism statement

Dismantling institutional biases:
The Association of Social Work Boards commits to promoting and upholding equity and justice. In doing so, the association will hold itself accountable in denouncing racism, intolerance, exclusion, and other forms of discrimination and bias in carrying out its mission.

Record-setting exam volume

In the last three months of 2020, exams reach their highest quarterly volume in the history of the organization.

December: 5,756 exams administered

December: 5,756 exams administered

Despite a multiweek shutdown of exam administrations, high test volume at the end of 2020 brings the association’s exam revenue within 5% of 2019 levels.

2020 financial analysis

Pie charts showing 2020 revenue and expenses

The association shows resiliency as it quickly responds to financial changes caused by COVID-19. Review the 2020 financial summary.

Entering 2021, ASWB continues to focus on the exams. Plans are under way for the Social Work Workforce Congress and the Social Work Census, a reenvisioned practice analysis that will bring in the voices of licensed and unlicensed practitioners to ensure the licensing exams remain relevant, fair, and reliable assessments of entry-level competence. Additionally, ASWB will be leading the development of a model compact to assist with practice mobility and beginning a new strategic planning process to set a course for the future.