For immediate release | June 7, 2016

AASL holds ESSA listening session with U.S. Department of Education

CHICAGO – On Friday, June 3, American Association of School Librarians (AASL) leaders met virtually with Dr. Monique Chism, deputy assistant secretary from the U.S. Department of Education (USED), Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. This one-hour “listening session” was devoted to the relationship between school librarians and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The USED will take this information into account as it provides guidance on Title IV, Part A - Student Support and Academic Enrichments Grants.

The impetus for the listening session came during National Library Legislative Day when AASL and YALSA leadership met with Chism to discuss educational equity and the impact an effective school library with a certified school librarian has on a student’s college and career readiness.

“It was quite momentous when Dr. Chism agreed to participate in what the U.S. Department of Education is calling ‘listening sessions,’” explained AASL President Leslie Preddy. “In the broader world of national organizations, AASL is mighty, but not large. Our biggest strength is that we are a profession of educational leaders dedicated to our field and the young people we hold dear – our students.”

Along with Preddy and AASL Executive Director Sylvia Norton, nine AASL members shared with Dr. Chism how the unique interests and needs of individual students are met in the expanded learning environment of the school library. Participants represented schools from across the United States as well as various grade levels and school environments. Speakers included:

  • Robbie Nickel, Elementary School Librarian (Nevada)
  • Pam Harland, High School Librarian (New Hampshire)
  • Steven Yates, Instructor of Library and Information Studies (Alabama)
  • Kathryn Lewis, Media Services & Instructional Technology Director (Oklahoma)
  • Devona Pendergrass, High School Librarian & District Library Department Head (Arkansas)
  • Craig Seasholes, Elementary School Librarian (Washington)
  • Jay Bansbach, School Libraries Program Specialist, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Rob Hilliker, School Library Director (Connecticut)
  • Katie Williams, Retired Middle School Librarian (California)

Topics covered during the session included school librarian impact on effective teaching, technology integration, staff development and teacher training, preparing students for college and career, digital literacy, new technology training for teachers, developing curriculum, coding, and student data privacy. After each topic, Chism was given the opportunity to ask questions.

“I want to thank all our participants for their time and dedication,” said Preddy. “At the end of the call, Dr. Chism noted that AASL had set a new ‘gold standard for listening sessions.’ The call was informative, constructive and enlightening. On behalf of AASL, I also want to thank Dr. Chism for her time. The association welcomes the opportunity for future engagement and conversation.”

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)