We are pleased to continue our series of learning experiences built around our latest issue and designed for use with school library candidates in graduate/professional programs, including pre-service school librarians and practitioners working as educators while earning their credentials. Dr. Audrey Church has provided suggested discussions, writing exercises, and other activities, written “to the graduate students,” so that faculty might borrow or adapt sections of the text directly into assignment instructions or online course modules.
Current subscribers can access the referenced articles via the hyperlinks below. (Magazine subscribers who still need to register for their login credentials at no extra cost may do so here.) As always, new subscribers are warmly welcomed into the SLC community, or we invite you to sign up for a free preview of our online platform.
Your Data Toolkit: Gathering and Using Data to Improve Instruction
This April issue of School Library Connection focuses on gathering and using data and rightly so. In today’s educational environment, data drive instruction, school improvement, teacher evaluation, and more. If school librarians are to be full participants in the educational process, they must be able to collect, analyze, utilize, and communicate with data. In fact, in my book, Tapping into the Skills of 21st Century School Librarians: A Concise Handbook for Administrators (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), in chapter 5, “Librarian as Program Administrator,” I have an entire section on Attention to Data: “Librarians pay close attention to data. Collection statistics are important: as program administrator, the librarian monitors the age of the collection, weeding outdated and inaccurate resources… Circulation statistics are important. The librarian monitors them to see which areas of the collection should be enhanced…The librarian also monitors usage statistics…Which teachers collaborate most often? She will use this data, not only to include in the library end-of-the-year report but also to target future collaborative efforts. Student data are critically important. The librarian will document how she makes a difference in student learning” (p. 70).
School Library Connection is pleased to collaborate with ALA President Julie Todaro and her school library group Task Force to provide access to a selection of key professional development articles aligned with essential professional competencies for school librarians. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.
Competency 10: School Improvement
“Program Assessment: Enjoy the Journey and Results!” by Ann M. Martin. School Library Connection, March 2016.
As I decluttered the other day, I was astounded by the number of maps I had accumulated and stored in a cabinet. With navigation systems available on numerous devices, I certainly don’t need all those paper maps anymore! Seeing all those maps, though, made me begin thinking about the importance of mapping your way to a destination, particularly when managing a library program. In our culture of high-stakes testing, assessment of the library program verifies the library-classroom connection (Martin 2012, 63), but just as importantly, assessment is a navigation tool designed to move goals and objectives—and consequently the library program—forward.
Hitting the Road
No matter what navigation choice is made when charting your course, in order to begin, you have to know the point from which you are starting. One place to begin is to identify obstacles impacting library program success using assessment instruments. Ever since the 1950s, when Dr. W. Edwards Deming emerged with the concept of continuous improvement, assessment has stressed the importance of eliminating root causes of problems. Deming changed the focus from “Who is causing my problems?” to “What processes are hampering change?” (Turner and Inman). Examples of processes impacting library programs are new policies mandated by legislatures, strategic plans targeting specific instructional strategies, and emerging technologies. Today, our navigation devices assess road obstacles and provide alternative routes as needed. Similarly, librarians can “correct course” and make measureable improvements to their program by analyzing it to identify the root causes of its strengths and weaknesses. By understanding these core causes, librarians can brainstorm solutions and create action plans to address each area of need (Martin 2012, 47).
School Library Connection is pleased to collaborate with ALA President Julie Todaro and her school library group Task Force to provide access to a selection of key professional development articles aligned with essential professional competencies for school librarians. We’ll be posting at least one article every work day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.
Competency 4: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
“Leadership: School Librarian Evaluation” by Judi Moreillon School Library Monthly 30, no. 2 (November 2013).
Teacher evaluation is a hot topic in many school districts across the country. Spurred by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and other state or district level reforms, evaluation instruments for educators are under review. It is, therefore, important for school librarians to make sure that their evaluation, too, is an essential part of this review process. School librarians need to take a leadership role in suggesting the most effective ways to measure the impact of the librarian’s role in the school system.
In many states, teacher evaluation is or will be based, at least partially, on student achievement scores in standardized tests. This approach to evaluation presents a challenge for many school librarians who must provide specific information on which, if any, learning outcomes are taught and measured only in the library. One way to address this challenge in the library is to demonstrate the positive results of teaching by collecting formative assessment data. Librarians can validate their impact on instruction by using pre- and post-tests and assessments, graphic organizers, checklists, rubrics, and reflections, and combining these with the students’ final products. Continue reading “Leadership: School Librarian Evaluation”
Maria Cahill asked this question recently and found that nearly a third of the school librarians who said they have initiated makerspaces choose not to assess student outcomes, and another 40% do so only informally through observation. In her One-Question Survey column below, Dr. Cahill discusses these results and encourages readers to include assessment in their makerspace programs.
We hope you use these surveys to help you reflect on your own practices. Subscribers can view our archive of past surveys here. And don’t forget to take our latest One-Question Survey, open until 10/19/2016, by clicking here.
Ten years ago, a school librarian would have been hard pressed to find any professional articles, blog posts, email discussion threads, conference sessions, workshops, or professional development sessions focused on makerspaces. A resurging interest in self-directed and experiential learning, which goes hand-in-hand with the Next Generation Science Standards (2013), has brought makerspaces to the forefront of librarians’ attention. This latest educational trend is especially well-suited for school libraries.
Thus, we were surprised to learn that more than half of the 201 school librarians who responded to our One Question Survey, “How do you assess student outcomes in makerspaces in your library program?” had actually never worked in a school library program with a makerspace, and the comments that accompanied the “other” category indicated that an additional four percent of the responding librarians had either just launched or were still in the planning stages of designing a makerspace.