Position Statement on Instructional Classification
AASL supports the inclusion of certified school library media specialists as part of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) "Instruction" classification.
School library media centers are classrooms in which school library media specialists teach and students and teachers learn. In school library media centers, students read, utilize print, non-print, and technology resources, and learn to evaluate and use information for projects and reports efficiently, effectively, and ethically, with the goal of developing lifelong learning and literacy skills and strategies. In school library media programs, classroom teachers and school library media specialists collaborate for instruction and support the development of each other's teaching skills. Multiple research studies, more than 60 since 1965, have affirmed that there is a clear link between school library media programs staffed by state-certified school library media specialists and increased student achievement (Library Research Services Web site at http://www.lrs.org/impact.asp).
School library media specialists are recognized by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) as teachers whose teaching can be measured to meet standards for professional teaching excellence and by the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) as teachers who are critically important for student achievement (http://www.nclis.gov/info/schoollibraryactivities.html ). School library media specialists are teachers who serve as crucial partners in ensuring that states and school districts meet the reading requirements that are part of No Child Left Behind (P.L. 107-110). In Part B, Subpart 1, Section 1208 of No Child Left Behind (P.L. 107-110), Instructional Staff is defined as "principals, teachers, supervisors of instruction, librarians, and school library media specialists".
Despite the vital role school library media specialists play as teachers and collaborators with classroom teachers, NCES classifies school library media specialists as "Support Staff-- Instruction" rather than "Instruction" along with classroom teachers. School library media specialists were placed in the instructional support category by NCES in the 1950s and, despite the evolution of school library media specialists' work from book warehouse managers to instructional leaders and partners, school library media specialists remain in this support staff classification. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and NCES conflict in their classification of school library media specialists.
Failure to classify school library media specialists as instructional staff and to recognize the impact of state-certified school library media specialists on student achievement, especially in reading, may result in a critical loss of funding for library positions and resources and a dangerous deterioration of library services for our nation's children. AASL will take a lead role over the next several years to communicate with state and national government leaders as well as the leadership of educational organizations about the importance of, and the role played by, school library media specialists in student achievement.
Issued April 2006