Food for Thought: Data Collection and Analysis

Last month in an effort to improve my own practice, I studied monthly reports from several high school libraries around the country.  I found many outstanding examples which assisted me in creating a new format for my monthly reports.  (I reported on this process here and here.)

I am still pleased with the transformation of my monthly report, but….

New and Improved?

This wonderfully relaxing five day holiday has provided time to further reflect on the data I collect to share with the school community.  School librarians understand the value of statistics and measure such things as student and class visits to the library as well as items circulated. These numbers are the backbone of many school library monthly (and yearly) reports.  In the past, library resource and facility usage = proof of the necessity of a school library.

However, the more I contemplate this, the more I am convinced that these statistics are not enough to prove the need for a school library program.

In my annual report, I include statistics on the number of pages read by those participating in our voluntary reading program.  But even that does not provide proof positive that my program is impacting student achievement.

Using Collaboration Data

Pam Harland of Plymouth Regional High School includes a Monthly Collaboration Highlight table in her report. She indicates five levels of collaboration in her table that range from merely scheduling classes to teaching an information literacy skill concept and planning a unit with teachers.

Armed with her monthly reports and test data from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), Pam could correlate data that indicates her program’s impact on student achievement.  Having taught only in South Carolina, I do not have specific knowledge of the NECAP, but if it is similar to our High School Assessment Program (HSAP), then New Hampshire’s students’ research skills are tested.

Extracting the research skills data from test reports of students who benefited from an information literacy skill library lesson would be time consuming and tedious, but it could be done. However, school librarians do not have to await state test results to obtain proof of their program’s impact.

“Our Instruction DOES Matter!”

Sara Poinier and Jennifer Alevy**, teacher librarians at Horizon High School in Thornton, Colorado, successfully proved their program impacts student achievement.  In “Our Instruction DOES Matter! Data Collected from Students’ Works Cited Speaks Volumes” (Teacher Librarian, February 2010, p. 38-39)* they share that success.  Partnering with health classes, they spoke with the students about available reliable resources and demonstrated how to create citations and Works Cited pages. When the students had finished their reports, the teachers shared the Works Cited pages with the teacher librarians.

Sara and Jennifer also collected a class set of Works Cited pages from a science class that did not receive library instruction.  Then they began to analyze the papers and gathered data concerning the types of resources students had used as well as the format of the Works Cited pages.  When the dust settled, these ladies proved their instruction made a difference in student achievement.

How Can You Measure Your Impact on Student Achievement?

We know that our programs increase student achievement, but being able to provide data that demonstrates it can be powerful.  What suggestions do you have for measuring your program’s impact?

I’m starting small.  Tomorrow, two English classes are coming in for brief instruction before they begin researching aspects of the Roaring Twenties.  I’ll ask them to complete a Google form and use the feedback to help us as we plan library instruction for next semester.

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*You’ll want to read this excellent article for more details on their accomplishment.  I do not subscribe to Teacher Librarian but was able to locate the article through SC DISCUS, the databases our state library helps provide.  You might be able to locate it through databases in your own school or public library.

**Jennifer Alevy is now a teacher librarian at Northglen High School.

Image attribution: “Clementine” by ilmungo   http://www.flickr.com/photos/48094050@N00/392088926

Do Not Go Quietly Into Your Library

Contemplation

As I continue contemplating ways to promote my school library program, I have been investigating various approaches taken by other educators to promote their ideas and programs.  I came across this video by Dave Truss today and was struck by a comment he made in the video: “Do not go quietly into the classroom.”

A Brave New World-Wide-Web

Many school librarians have vital programs that not only increase student achievement, but also increase a student’s sense of self-worth.  Unlike a classroom teacher, what we teach does not occupy a place on student report cards to reinforce the idea that we make a difference.  Do we really want to entrust our program’s future to chance?  The chance  that our students go home and enthusiastically share what they learned or created in the school library that day? The chance that an administrator walks by the library,  is curious about what has students engrossed in their projects, and enters to make inquiries? The chance that a parent will make a positive comment about his child’s school library to a school board member?

Make Some Noise!


What can we do to ensure that our contributions to education reach the community’s ears?  Why not post projects students create using library resources on our library websites?

Ithaca High School in Ithaca, NY  Examples of student created projects for American History and English classes

Hawthorne Elementary School in Missoula, MT  Examples of group projects from kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade classes

Kapolei Middle School in Kapolei, HI Examples of a variety of exemplary projects from grades 6, 7, and 8

Kamali’i Elementary School in Kihei, Maui, HI Examples of class projects and student created podcasts

Program Promotion Challenge Continues

This week I will be sharing student projects created through the use of library resources.  They should make an attractive addition to our library website.

Where’s my noisemaker?

Image attribution:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/82514542@N00/3158323911

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