January 19, 2006

The Massachusetts Board of Registration of Social Workers is happy to announce that a change has recently been made in how the Board will grant ESL accommodations for all levels of the Social Work licensure examination.

The previous Massachusetts policy on the provision of ESL accommodations required applicants to have received their highest degree at an institution outside of the United States. The current policy will require only that an applicant who feels he or she may need ESL accommodations, write a detailed request to the Board. This request should clearly explain why the applicant feels that he or she will need this accommodation. Accommodations will then be granted at the Board's discretion, based on their consideration of the applicant's needs.

As a matter of exam security the actual accommodations provided are set by the Association of Social Work Boards, however each jurisdiction is free to decide what criteria applicants must meet in order to receive these accommodations. ASWB's ESL accommodations allow an applicant to receive a standard English language and/ or Bi-lingual dictionary and up to an additional 2 hours for the exam.

Based in part on an increase in requests for ESL accommodations, the decision to change the policy came after careful consideration and thoughtful discussions. The Board considered the criteria used in many other jurisdictions, as well as the need to for the examination process to be the least exclusionary possible, without jeopardizing the exam security. In this field where diversity is incumbent upon effective provision of services, the Board feels this policy change will only serve to bring the examination process in line with the realities of our practice today.

As of February 15, 2006, once approved to take the ASWB examination, applicants may submit to the Board office a detailed request for ESL accommodations. Please remember that you may not request ESL accommodations until your application for licensure has been processed and you have been approved to take the appropriate level ASWB examination and that the requests should be no more than one page in length. As always, feel free to contact me, Patricia Murray with any questions related to this or any other licensure issue at 617 727-3064.