Position Statement on the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
Based on the collaborative efforts of the AASL Legislation Committee, ALA Washington Office, and other AASL officials and members, AASL holds the following position on the four key education assurances that will be addressed in the upcoming Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:
1. Adopting internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace
AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (AASL, 2007) align with and expand upon the essential skills identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2004) to prepare students for success in higher education, life and the world of work.
AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (AASL, 2007) align with and expand upon the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S,2007), which outline what students will know and be able to do with educational technology (Fontichiaro, Moreillon, Abilock, 2009).
ISTE, National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T, 2008) by category are mapped to the "School Librarian's Bill of Responsibilities" (Fontichiaro, Moreillon, Abilock, 2009a, p. 63) and show that the roles of classroom teachers and of school librarians are tightly aligned" (Fontichiaro, Moreillon, Abilock, 2009b, p. 72).
AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (AASL, 2007) are consistent with the published expectations of the in-progress, state-led efforts by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in writing a set of K-12 standards (Common Core State Standards Initiative) to define the knowledge and skills students should have to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing, academic college courses and in workforce training programs. These standards, with the goal to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be globally competitive, will be judged on the criteria that they are aligned with college and work expectations; inclusive and rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills; and internationally benchmarked.
2. Recruiting, developing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers and principals
As instructional and technology leaders, school librarians offer support to both students and faculty through education and resources. In addition to providing professional development opportunities, school librarians work across the curriculum and grade levels to collaborate with teachers and have the opportunity to model best practices. School librarians support content learning with books and electronic resources.
Like building level administrators, school librarians have horizontal and vertical perspective on curriculum and instruction within their buildings. School librarians are uniquely qualified teachers who teach critical, specialized skills identified in the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner , The Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework for 21st Century Learning, as well as in content area standards. School librarians must be present with other effective teachers to identify local learning targets, review data, plan and deliver instruction that meets the unique needs of all students.
Too often school librarians' expertise is negated when they teach library skills out of context or "babysit" students in elementary schools or serve as study-time monitors in middle and high schools while other educators hold regularly scheduled instructional planning sessions. School librarians are among the first positions cut when school systems face economic hardships. When these unfortunate practices happen, students lose valuable and unique learning opportunities and teachers lose a key educational partner and source of professional development and support.
3. Building data systems that measure student success and inform teachers and principals how they can improve their practices
Data systems allow for data analysis using multiple variables (race, ethnicity, at risk, school size, and region) measured against formative (formative and interim) and summative (consortium) assessments. School librarians can analyze and interpret these data and use findings to improve classroom instruction and teacher cooperation. School librarians couple the links among the curricular areas.
School librarians are teachers who assess student learning and have a tradition of measuring their impact through surveys and statistics. They hold a unique position in the school that lends itself to reflective evaluation of all students at all levels and in all content areas.
School librarians, as partners with classroom teachers, practice evidence-based assessment that measures student achievement of standards-based knowledge, skills, dispositions in action, responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies. "Studies show clear evidence that students are more likely to be academically successful if they have the benefit of library media programs led by state-licensed school librarians" ( Add It Up: Libraries Make a Difference in Youth Development and Education ).
School librarians recognize the value of accountability. School librarians are teachers who, along with other content area teachers, can code what they teach using The Secondary School Course Classification System: School Codes for Exchange of Data (SCED). Subject Area 10: Computer and Information Science (Code 10003) addresses school librarians' subject area, which involves teaching: use of computers and information technology as tools to improve communication; teaching legal and ethical access, evaluation and use of information; and teaching students to competently conduct research.
4. Turning around our lowest-performing schools
State-by-state research repeatedly shows that a well-funded and fully staffed school library program with a state-licensed school librarian is an integral component of a student's education. Across the United States, studies have demonstrated that students in schools with strong school library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized test scores than their peers in schools without such resources.
School libraries are leading innovations that accelerate student achievement and progress. School librarians provide programming that often extends the school day and school year and reaches out to parents and community members. School librarians and teachers who partner are teams that should be rewarded. School librarian and classroom teacher teams must have a "spotlight shined" on them so that others can learn from and replicate their success.
School librarians know the school's curriculum and effective techniques necessary to cross disciplines and to integrate information and technology literacy. They have collaborative skills for effective participation in school improvement plans and processes through involvement in curriculum development, as well as implementation and evaluation along with individual educators and departmental committees. School librarians are well-positioned to participate in the improvement of data-based assessment systems.
Dow, M. (2010). Making schools better: School librarians' roles in aggressive reforms—What is our office position? Knowledge Quest, 38(5), 78-82.