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School Librarians & Change – Part 2 of 3 by Nancy White

Change is in our midst. To be sure, there is nothing more constant than change, but I believe 2010 is going to be the year that stands out for school librarians in Colorado.   This week, I will be addressing the issue of accountability for school librarians.

There have always been a variety of accountability measures for teachers, such as classroom observations and evaluations, student achievement rates, and parent feedback.  However, when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of the school librarian, especially in terms of impact on student achievement, school districts have never really made that connection.  Yet we know from the Keith Curry –Lance research studies that our work does impact student achievement, but there has never been a direct link.   This is all about to change.

Colorado’s revised standards now have 21st century skills – to include information literacy – embedded in every content area.  The next step being undertaken by CDE is to revise the current CSAP standardized assessment to align with the new standards.  A recent survey taken by over 1200 Colorado educators and community members asked, “How much should state assessment emphasize 21st century skills?” As you see in the chart below, a large majority feel these should be tested and reported.

If you agree that school librarians are the experts on 21st century skills – and the “go-to” people in a school to collaborate with teachers in building a learning environment that allows room for students to practice and master these skills, then there will be a direct link between student achievement and the work of school librarians.  This will certainly become an accountability measure for school librarians.

Are you ready? How are you currently measuring, collecting, and using data to help improve your students’ 21st century skills?  The new Colorado standardized assessment won’t be available until 2012, which gives you some time to come up with a plan.  If we present ourselves as the experts on 21st century skills, then we must back this up with evidence that we not only teach these skills, but we assess them as well.  You should make 2010 the year to move beyond cooperation or coordination, to fully collaborate with your classroom teachers to plan, co-teach and assess students 21st century skills.

-Nancy White
Co-President, CASL

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4 Responses

  1. The CDE survey results are well worth reading, I think. School librarians will want to consider becoming the “point persons” for introducing and interpreting the results to their communities, including their administrators, teaching colleagues, and also parent groups. This is a great leadership opportunity–one that could connect the school librarian to 21st century assessments (and accountability) in the minds of the school community.

    • Excellent suggestion, Mary! I have not seen other references to this survey – so the school librarians can certainly be the leaders in sharing this data in their school communities.

  2. Great blog post. In such perilous times it is good to have measures to show how much school libraries impact learning.

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