Sunday, January 27, 2013

Common Core

Some GREAT resources here:

School Library Research in Pennsylvania

In 2011 the Pennsylvania School Library Association and the Pennsylvania co-sponsored a survey of school libraries in their state. They received responses from over 78% of those surveyed. This survey and initiative mirrors our legislation currently being filed here in Massachusetts.

The survey had very predictable result. Approximately 58% of students in PA do not have access to a professional librarian in their schools. Quantitatively, the study determined what components school library programs need to be successful. Qualitatively, what difference do school libraries make in the lives of students? Many critical components were discovered, most mimicking the early studies by Keith Curry Lance in Colorado.

Not surprisingly, schools with flexible scheduling and a collaborative atmosphere were most influential in the academic lives of their students. The study also did an estimation of the costs of restoring full-time school librarians in all schools, supplying all schools with "Power-library" databases (similar to our databases provided here in Massachusetts by the MBLC) as well as two days of professional development for all school librarians in the state.

They developed an acronym called FACTTS

F = annual funding for school libraries
A= access to the library beyond the school day
C= currency of the collection
T= technology
T= teaching
S= staff (the most important factors, along with the presence of some support staff)

This acronym was used to report out the data. Some of the findings are not unusual, many are supportive and useful. In Pennsylvania, students take the PSSA Reading Test. One of the findings from the study showed that nearly half of all students with flexible access to their school library during the school day scored "Advanced" on the PSSA Reading Test.

Opening the school library - either before or after school or both - also has had an impact on student achievement. "More than twice as many students who are able to use their school library before or after the school day scored "Advanced" on the PSSA Writing Test as those students without such access.

The data goes on and on. Let's hope for success in Massachusetts and that we are able to replicate the data-collection and disseminating in Pennsylvania. For more information, please see

What the research shows

Pennsylvania and New Jersey presented excellent overviews of their recent state studies, coordinated by UPittsburgh and Rutgers library schools respectively.  It was particularly exciting to hear the PA study, as it is based on findings from a study commission that we are hoping to replicate in Massachusetts.  It was especially exciting to hear that Pennsylvania was able to show that excellent libraries with professional staffing, a high degree of collaboration, and flexible scheduling have a higher than expected positive impact on the subgroups that typically score less well on their state standardized test.  They have put together an "elevator speech" of the factors that matter most in getting the most from a school library program in order to improve student achievement--including:
  • Funding—you need a budget for more materials each year
  • Access—you need access to school library beyond the school day (especially before and after day)
  • Collection—current resources in various physical formats are important
  • Technology—access in school and at home (ebooks and databases)
  • Teaching—teaching information literacy skills in collaboration and having a flexible schedule
  • Staffing—single most important factor was having a fulltime certified school librarian with a support
To read the research yourself go to The Pennsylvania School Library site and the New Jersey study focusing on "what does a good school library look like?"

It's in Hartford--you can go

And you should:

NCLE and why it matters

Judi Moriellen presented to AASL about its involvement with the National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE).  NCLE is an affiliation of approximately 30 educational groups focused on literacy.  The resources shared and collected on their site are incredibly useful for librarians, and they send out twice-weekly postings with articles on topics that school librarians are sure to find useful.  For example, recent postings have included research on why reading skills in boys lag behind those for girls, and things to consider before you flip your classroom.  Please take a look at their website, and start following them on twitter or RSS feed--you will be glad you did.  NCLE is at

Why does it matter?  For years librarians have known how much we have to offer--especially in supporting student literacy.  This initiative helps us to access terrific resources that we can share with our faculty and administrators, and it also provides school librarians with an opportunity to share our best practices and ideas.  Please use this resource, and look for ways that school librarians can contribute to this venture.

Digital Learning Day

February 6 is Digital Learning Day and it is a great opportunity for school librarians to show their stuff.  One topic discussed at AASL involved how we can do this simply and effectively.  Sue Kowalski from the Pine Grove Middle School in East Syracuse, NY was an inspiration as she explained how her students completely organized the event for her--resulting in after-school "tech smackdowns" where students are encouraged to come to the school or public libraries and teach one another digital games or how to use their devices.  Students created an animoto to publicize the event, and were all asked to "tell three teachers" to come!  To read more about plans for AASL in Digital Learning Day check out Sue's post on the AASL blog:

Legislative updates

I sat in a session this morning with Jennifer Duffy of Cook Political report, who shared an amazing knowledge of Washington politics and current climate to help us think about how library leaders can strategically approach the federal government on library issues and funding.

The session began with a video shared from the chair of the FCC talking about the key role libraries play in bridging the digital divide--and how they are vital for national communications!

Opportunities that Duffy described included:
  • Demographics are shifting, and many of the people who use libraries heavily are also the people who appear to be voting, such as recent immigrants
  • Moderate voters, those who don't care for extreme conservative or liberal positions, are those most likely to affect election outcomes
But the challenges are also significant:
  • Duffy reported that the current Congress and Senate is extremely dysfunctional and it is incredibly hard to get anything done.  Most members are relatively new (majority of Congress has served less than 3 years) and rigid ideologically.  They move from crisis to crisis and don't get much done.  For example, Duffy said many educational funding bills are up for renewal and it is unlikely all will be passed.
  • It is very difficult to assess public opinion accurately due to changes in technology--fewer people have landlines, and fewer answer their phone; it can be difficult to find a way to reach many key demographic groups using any one form of access.  Consquently, polling data is not as clear as it once was.