New national report: School library media programs critical to high school reform

Contact: Kathy Agarwal

Communications Specialist

For Immediate Release

March 24, 2006

School library media programs critical to high school reform

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (the Partnership) issued a new national report today, “Results That Matter: 21st Century Skills and High School Reform.” The report designs a compelling framework for 21st century learning that focuses on the results that matter for today’s high school graduates’ success in the workplace of the present and future.

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL), an active member of the Partnership, applauds the report’s findings and considers school library media programs to be crucial to the success of high school reform.

According to the report (available for download at high schools must focus on improving student learning, achievement and competencies based on the needs of today’s work environments. Schools must teach skills and attributes that are increasingly important for every high school graduate, which are different than traditional metrics.

AASL advocates for strong and effective school library media programs as essential to educational progress in today’s high schools. School library media specialists have a substantial impact on student’s academic success. In the context of core subjects, school library media specialists develop in their students the information and communication technology (ICT) skills to access up-to-date information from around the world, to evaluate its relevance to the questions at hand, to assess its authority and reliability, and to apply it to information problem solving.

“Working in effective school library media programs, students experience learning as not merely an acquisition of factual information, but rather as questioning, analyzing, interpreting and applying information to solve problems, make decisions and generate new ideas,” said AASL President J. Linda Williams.

According to “Results That Matter,” today’s graduates need to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and effective communicators who are proficient in both core subjects and new, 21st century content and skills. These 21st century skills include learning and thinking skills, information and communications technology literacy skills, and life skills. Twenty-first century skills are in demand for all students, no matter what their future plans—and they will have an enormous impact on students’ prospects.

School library media specialists have an active role in instruction beyond the scope of the traditional library setting. Teachers collaborate with media specialists to engage their students in complex writing, integrating facts and ideas from a range of sources, learning to critically assess them and arrive at well-reasoned and well-supported conclusions. Effective school library media programs teach students how to learn, how to think critically and how to use the tools and information available to solve complex problems. Those skills, taught in library media centers, are what today’s employers seek. Without them, graduates are inadequately prepared for the workplace and adult life.

“High schools must be designed, organized and managed with a relentless focus on the results that matter in the 21st century—in addition to the traditional metrics of attendance, graduation and college matriculation rates—or they risk missing the mark,” said John Wilson, chair, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and executive director of the National Education Association. “Traditional metrics are important, but they are no longer sufficient indicators of student preparedness.”

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills ( was formed in 2002 with support from the U.S. Department of Education and is the leading advocacy organization transforming learning in the 21st century. In 2003, the Partnership issued
Learning for the 21st Century: A Report and MILE Guide for 21st Century Skills, which articulates a collective vision for learning in the 21st century and assists schools, districts and states in meeting the challenges of incorporating 21st century skills into their curriculum. AASL joined the Partnership in February 2005.

The American Association of School Librarians (, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library media 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 media field.