KQ Web: Striking the Right Chord with What They Want Evidence: Or Measuring What Matters
Special content referenced in the feature article "Forget Marian! Professor Harold Hill's Lessons in Advocacy"
School libraries have a history of keeping statistics, BUT have our traditional statistics been meaningful to decision-makers and other stakeholders? Would they pass a "Who Cares Test?" For example, while the number of items circulated is potentially valuable information to school librarians, is it significant to a stakeholder? Does the number of library books checked out each day in a library address if or how school libraries impact student achievement? If not, who really cares about the number of books checked out? If this kind of data is not significant to our stakeholders, we need to redirect and expand our energies to also collecting evidence that is meaningful to decision-makers.
When deciding to use evidence-based practice as a foundation for advocacy, it is important to apply the "Who Cares Test" to potential evidence. In order to give the "Who Cares Test," we need to identify who our stakeholders are and what they care about. We need to avoid thinking about what we want them to value. In other words, the question should be focused on what do they want, not what do we want them to want.
Students, parents, communities, teachers, and administrators value student achievement, learning, and knowledge. Our qualitative and quantitative statistics and evidence can be designed to show how our school libraries impact relevant factors such as achievement, knowledge, and learning in our own buildings and districts. When school library evidence is in harmony with the needs and values of stakeholders, those stakeholders will become supporters and advocates for school libraries. They will lead the band in singing the praises of school library programs.
Deb Logan is the Librarian/Media Specialist at Mount Gilead (OH) High School.