Three for: Documenting Your Impact

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The 2012-2013 school year is upon us!  One of my goals this year is to improve my methods of assessment.  School librarians are often so busy teaching that they forget to assess the learning taking place.  Can you imagine a classroom teacher NOT assessing student learning?

I hope that the three resources I have gathered for this post are as helpful/motivational to you as they have been to me.

  • “Assessing Learning: the Missing Piece in Instruction?” by Violet H. Harada and Joan M. Yoshina is an article I reread often.  It motivates me to keep looking for ways to assess learning in my library.
  • Ross Todd’s “The Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians” summarizes much of the discussion at the 2007 Leadership Summit sponsored by School Library Journal.  He discusses evidence-based practice as it applies to school libraries, shares multiple types of evidence we can be collecting, and provides questions to guide us as we consider student outcomes and how we can share the good news.
  • The University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science: SLMImpact  This awesome wiki includes tools, resources, strategies, and additional readings for proving your library’s impact.  Many of the links on the Tools page provide ways to assess student learning.

How do you assess student learning in your school library?

Gearing Up for the New Year: How Do You Assess Students?

As you prepare to begin a new school year, consider starting an “Advocacy” file on your computer.  Include links to resources (see the Advocacy page of this blog) that can assist you as you plan your advocacy strategy for the year.

We often refer to studies conducted by Lance, Todd, Baumbach or others as we explain the need for school library programs.  But in bleak economic times, statistics from a study conducted years ago in another area (studies have been conducted in Ontario, Canada, and 18 states) aren’t going to provide the support you need to prove YOUR program is making a difference.

Gather Evidence

How do you assess student learning in your media center?  If you have only used observation in the past, plan to gather concrete evidence this year. Add this evidence to your Advocacy file and include information from it in each and every meeting you have with your principal.  Plan on sharing your monthly reports with your superintendent and your school board.

There’s Strength in Numbers

In a March post, I shared the above presentation created in Google Docs and asked readers how they assessed student learning in their media centers.  Two school librarians responded, but only Joquetta Johnson of Milford Mill Academy in Baltimore, Maryland added information to the presentation.

I have met many awesome school librarians at conferences and online and know they use a variety of methods to assess learning.  I hope that some of them are reading this and will add to the presentation, allowing us all to benefit as we face one of the toughest years yet in education.

Annual Report

Unfortunately, does not allow me to embed documents, requiring one more click on your part to be able to view the report:

BSHS LMC Annual Report 2009-2010

You will see an edited copy of our report;  student names and pictures have been removed.  Their inclusion adds the much-needed human factor to data,  pairing faces with programs, but removing them before sharing with those outside of our district shows the value we place on our students’ right to privacy.

If you have not yet created an annual report, I highly recommend that you try your hand at it next year.  Doing so gives you a full picture of your program, highlighting your strengths and exposing your weaknesses.  Although seeing those weaknesses is not pleasant, it is necessary.  We have incorporated ours into goals for next year.

Methods to Assess Learning in the Library Media Center

Are You Ready to Rumble?

Is your school library program worth fighting for?  Is it worth preventing a fight for its preservation?

Folks, you REALLY don’t want to see an angry librarian.  If you thought he was angry when he had to straighten the display you knocked over in your hasty exit to avoid being tardy for class, think again. If you thought she was angry when you couldn’t find that overdue book in your locker or bookbag or room, think again.  If you thought he was going to hit the ceiling when you used a proxy to get around the Internet filter, think again.

Try telling the librarian that her budget, program, or job is being cut.  An angry librarian, a truly angry librarian, is not a pretty sight.  However, there is hope.

Preventing the Angry Librarian Population from Growing
A good friend and fellow school librarian , Heather Loy, has written an excellent post challenging school librarians to answer some tough questions in these times of budget cuts.  Arming ourselves with evidence to support our answers, we might just be able to save our programs.

  • Will my principal fight for me – if he’s given the opportunity?
  • Have I given him reason enough to fight for me/my program – have I had an impact on student achievement and learning?  If so, how?
  • In this Internet age, why am I still relevant?
  • Also, how are the other media specialist in my district perceived?  Will their actions/inaction reflect back on me positively or negatively?


She admits she also needs to answer these questions and then says, “I need to document and advocate for how I and my program are essential to my students and school.”

Methods to Assess Learning in the Library Media Center

School library programs across the United States are on the chopping block.  How can I ensure that my program won’t be one of them?  I need to gather evidence that my program adds value to our students’ educational experience and helps them to become  information literate.

I’ve been a fan of Tom Barrett’s  “Interesting Ways” presentations for some time.  Instead of creating  wikis where educators collaborate to build shared knowledge, he has created presentations in Google Docs and invited others to add ideas.  The visual aspect of these presentations and their format (each idea is limited to one slide) is refreshing.

Why not use the same method to cull assessment ideas for library media centers?

Unfortunately, will not allow me to embed a Google Docs presentation in my blog so I have included a screen shot.  I started the presentation with three methods for assessment in the media center and hope other school librarians will contribute to the presentation.

To view the presentation, please go to

Please share this presentation with other school librarians so that we can all benefit from our shared knowledge and practices.  Email it, tweet it, Facebook it, Diigo it, Delicious it, blog it….the phrase “the more, the merrier” certainly fits here.

Photo used under a Creative Commons License

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