Learning Standards & Program Guidelines Implementation Toolkit

Introduction by Dr. Nancy Everhart,
AASL President 2010–2011

nancy everhartIn October 2007, the American Association of School Librarians officially retired Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning and introduced a dynamic, deep vision for student learning, Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Building on AASL's core values of rich information-seeking and synthesizing behavior, ethical use of information, and the role of school libraries and school librarians in partnering with classroom teachers, the learning standards expand beyond skills acquisition and place students firmly at the core of an inquiry-based learning process. In 2008 the vision for instruction using the learning standards was published in Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action . This was followed by Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs (2009) and A Planning Guide for Empowering Learners (2010). These four resources, along with the learning standards and program guidelines implementation plan, are the heart of the Learning4Life (L4L) initiative.

The vision of the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner has given school librarians a solid foundation for their role in developing students prepared to meet the uncertainties of life in a fast-paced, information-rich global society. The learning standards are consistent with the vision articulated in the International Society for Technology in Education's refreshed 2007 National Educational Technology Standards for Students external link icon and the framework of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. external link icon (AASL is a founding member of the partnership and AASL Executive Director, Julie Walker, was the 2010–2011 chair.)

For many school librarians and their colleagues, the move to inquiry-based learning in which students develop skills, dispositions, responsibilities for learning, and self-assessments has represented a sea change in both educators’ own practice and the culture of their school, as well as an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate the value of a quality school library program in today's chaotic information landscape. Many school districts have adopted the AASL learning standards because they recognize that the holistic approach to rigorous student learning aligns and articulates their own district visions for learners.

l4lAASL strongly believes that school librarians are more vital than ever before as partners in teaching students and teachers to navigate an infinite world of information and to construct meaning from it. Our 21st-century school libraries are highly complex social, cultural, and knowledge systems. L4L can help practitioners establish a vision for what school libraries do and why those contributions are valuable. This toolkit is designed to help practitioners learn more about the key ideas of the learning standards and share those messages with others. It includes official AASL materials as well as materials created by L4L coordinators, practicing school librarians, library school faculty members, and experts in the field of education.


This toolkit was developed by Kristin Fontichiaro, member of the AASL Standards and Guidelines Implementation Task Force and Michigan L4L Coordinator, and Melissa Johnston, member of the AASL Learning Standards Indicators and Assessment Task Force.