Filtering in schools creates disconnected educators

For Immediate Release
Fri, 11/16/2012

Contact:

Jennifer Habley
Manager, Web Communications
American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
800-545-2433 ext.4383
jhabley@ala.org

CHICAGO — According to the results of the 2012 School Libraries Count! longitudinal survey conducted by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), the filtering of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools continues to be an issue in most schools across the country.  While these schools report that overly restrictive filters negatively impact student learning, findings indicate educator curriculum development and collaboration activities are also impeded.

In today’s changing educational landscape, the importance of an educators’ access to resources, tools, colleagues, experts and learning communities is increasing rapidly. To meet this need, educators require consistent and open access to online resources. However, the AASL  survey results affirm that filtering of online content is nearly universal across schools and school libraries. Of the 4,299 survey respondents, 98 percent reported that school or district filters are in place in their school and 88 percent reported that content is filtered for staff as well as students.  Additionally, more than half, 56 percent, report the same level of filtering is in place for both staff and students.

In the 2010 National Education Technology Plan, the US Department of Education “calls for applying the advanced technologies used in our daily personal and professional lives to our entire education system to improve student learning, accelerate and scale up the adoption of effective practices, and use data and information for continuous improvement.”  While nearly all schools reported the ability to request a site be unblocked, most (68 percent) noted the decision is most often made at the district level, while only 17 percent report that the decision is made within their school. The higher level decision often leads to significant delays in accessing educational material. Thirty-five percent of respondents state the request takes two-three days, while 20 percent report the decision can take a week or more.

The School Libraries Count! National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Programs aims to gather data on changes in the field to gain understanding of the state of school library programs nationally. While national estimates are developed on the basis of survey responses from public schools, all K-12 schools, public and private, were invited to participate on a voluntary basis.  In addition to annual survey questions, starting in 2008, AASL began adding supplemental questions to address a current issue within the school library field. In 2012 AASL focused these questions on filtering. Data on this and previous School Libraries Count! longitudinal studies can be found at www.ala.org/aasl/slcsurvey.

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.