Data is only worth collecting if you use it effectively! Your school district collects a great deal of data relating to achievement, test scores, student demographics, etc., and your library media center collects its own data on its collection, circulation, reading scores, etc. How do you know what data will help your frontline advocacy team (your “A Team”) with your frontline advocacy message? Use this checklist as a guide.
The right data:
- Is easy to understand. Take the relevant data that you and your school district collect and boil it down to an easy-to-understand format. Make it clear almost at a glance. How many books did students, teachers and other staff check out this school year? How does it compare to last year? How do your students perform on standardized reading tests? Do their scores correlate with any specific activities that the library media center offers to improve reading skills and comprehension? Can you connect any library media center resources with your school’s college admission rate?
- Does not overwhelm the reader or listener. Sometimes less is more. Making two or three points effectively is far better than trying to make six and watching the reader or listener lose interest.
- Clarifies the point you are making or the problem you are addressing. If you want to make the point that students who volunteer in the library create a win-win situation for everyone, go to your data that shows:
- How many student volunteers you have
- How many hours they work
- All the ways they free library staff to perform expanded services
- How many service credits they’ve earned
- How many consider their volunteer time worthwhile enough to do it for multiple years
- What kind of feedback you receive from parents, teachers and students on the value of this volunteer service
- Is relevant to the reader or listener. Some knowledge of your “audience” and their interests, whether they are students, parents, school staff, friends, relatives or acquaintances, should guide the content of what you tell them.
- Shows the positive impact your school library has on your school and on student achievement. If new self-directed reading comprehension software has turned more students on to reading and taking comprehension tests, how has that impacted reading scores at your school? Has your library’s college resource center impacted college choice or admission rate?
- Is part of a bigger picture. Can you talk about how your library media center provides high school students with college and career information? How it has helped move your school from the “watch list” of underperforming schools to a solid place on the list of successful schools?