CHICAGO - In its continuing efforts to highlight the importance of school librarian participation in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has submitted recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on ESSA accountability and state plans. The recommendations, cosigned by the American Library Association Washington Office, focus on school librarian participation in state plan development and on the school librarian’s role in teaching digital literacy skills.
AASL requests a clarification of language to specifically state school librarians be included in the development and execution of state-developed implementation plans. As written in ESSA, state educational agencies must consult with stakeholders while developing state implementation plans. As one of the stakeholders as defined in the newly proposed regulations, AASL recommends that language be clarified to highlight the statutory ability of school librarians to participate in the consultation process with the state education agencies in the development and implementation of the state consolidated plan.
“School librarians bring a unique and critical perspective to ESSA implementation,” said AASL President Audrey Church. “What other stakeholder has such a comprehensive view of the learning taking place in the school? School librarians work with students, empowering them to be future ready. They serve as collaborative instructional partners for all classroom teachers, and they keep their colleagues up to date on the newest trends in teaching and learning. School librarians make the entire school more effective and can translate this experience into expert advice as states begin to craft their ESSA plans.”
AASL also recommends a clarification of language to highlight the critical support school libraries provide in improving the digital literacy of all students. Included as part of the state-developed implementation plan, state education agencies must explain how their plan ensures students meet academic standards and use technology effectively to improve academic achievement and digital literacy. To better encourage the effective use of technology to improve academic achievement and digital literacy in ways that support all students, AASL recommends language be clarified to highlight the critical support school libraries provide in improving student digital literacy.
“Effective school library programs provide students with equitable access to up-to-date digital and print materials and technology,” explains Church. “Through instruction provided by a certified school librarian, students are taught appropriate and responsible technology use – not only how to select, evaluate, and use information effectively and ethically but also how to use social tools responsibly and safely.”
The full letter to the U.S. Department of Education can be read on the AASL website at www.ala.org/aasl/essa. Included with the recommendations are references to the newly published AASL position statement “Definition for an Effective School Library Program” and exemplars submitted by school librarians from across the country.