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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

ME social workers, educators seek end to state licensing exam

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Monday, March 25, 2024   

Social workers in Maine say the state's required licensing exam is biased and contributing to a shortage of workers in the field.

Data show disparities in pass rates for people of color, nonnative English speakers and older adults.

Jeanette Andonian, associate dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Southern Maine, said failure to pass the exam can delay graduate students' entry into the workforce for years.

"I have known social-work students from our program, outstanding students, like top of their class students, who fail the test multiple times," Andonian observed.

Meanwhile, Andonian pointed out there are not enough social workers to help Maine's growing unhoused population, those struggling with drug addiction or older Mainers in need of social services. She noted graduate students must already demonstrate professional competence before earning their degree.

Maine lawmakers recently amended legislation, which would have placed a moratorium on the licensing exam, choosing instead to create a commission to study the licensing requirements. Andonian expressed disappointment with the lawmakers' decision. She explained other states, which have eliminated the exam have seen significant increases in the number of social workers entering the field.

"Taking a multiple-choice exam with biased questions does nothing to demonstrate practice competency," Andonian asserted. "It only tells us that a person was able to pass a multiple-choice test. A ridiculous hurdle."

Some of those in favor of retaining the exam requirement said schools are failing to help students better prepare for and pass exams. But Andonian said she sometimes has struggled to answer test questions herself. She said Maine needs a diverse profession of social workers in order to serve a diverse population, and people, she said, need help now.


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