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CKH Student Assessment Paper-1

CKH Student Assessment Paper-1

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Published by: Caroline Haavik on Apr 30, 2013
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Caroline Haavik LBSC 741 April 24, 2014 Student Assessment in the School Library In a speech he made at the International

Association of School Librarianship (IASL) Conference in 2001, Ross Todd said the following;

People -- administrators, classroom teachers and parents -sometimes do not see the links between what you do on a day-today basis and how that enables the learning outcomes of the students. I am going to be blunt here. I hope I am wrong. But you will not be heard until your day-to-day practice is evidence-based; a practice that is directed towards demonstrating the real tangible power of your contribution to the school's learning goals -- goals that while expressed in many different ways, have at their heart concepts of knowledge construction and human understanding. The evidence of your direct, tangible contribution to improving learning in your school should be the substance of your message, the substance of your public concern, the substance of your negotiations.

Ross Todd has been working for the last decade and more on transforming Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) beyond formal research terminology into an everyday librarian colloquialism. For those in school library graduate programs he is on his way to success. However, how much do we really take his words to heart even with them drilled into our daily existence? Do we look at ways we can lay the groundwork in our own libraries to create secure, respected school library programs based on strong evidence for their existence? The following paper will discuss EBP at

its purest form, student assessment; what student assessment is, how a local librarian uses it in her classroom, and ways in which she might improve her assessment collection. Student assessment is the “reflection and appraisal of learning” (ALA, 1998, p. 174). Over a period of time, collected qualitative data, such as student assessment, can be just as informative and useful for evaluation as quantitative data (Pappas, 2008, p. 23). The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and it knows a thing or two about data, states there are four purposes for assessment; to improve student growth, improve instruction, recognize accomplishment, and modify or improve instruction (ALA, 1998, p. 174). AASL mirrors these purposes in Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs (2009) stating assessment is performed: -by the student through self-assessments -by the student working with the classroom teacher and/or school librarian to assess the student’s progress during a unit of study -by the classroom teacher and school librarian instruction during the unit of study -by the school librarian to determine how well the program is working to improve student achievement (p. 27) As the above AASL Guidelines for assessment in the school library suggest, Donham stresses that assessment is “not a single event, but rather a part of the learning experience” (Donham, 2008, p. 266). Whether in elementary, middle, or high school, it is necessary for the school librarian to incorporate multiple types of assessment, whether informal or formal, in their daily instruction for the purpose of “tracking this data for a longitudinal picture of patterns and trends” (Pappas, 2008, p. 23). The collected evidence can be used to lay the foundation for Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) in the school. When communicated to administrators, co teachers, parents, students, and the community at large, EBP can help the school librarian to

“gain administrative support, identify collection gaps and weaknesses, foster funding partnerships for new materials and technology, increase student and faculty usage, and most importantly, ensure that the library remains open (Marie, 2005, p. 25).” Assessment begins by having clear outcomes, standards, or goals in mind. The AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner, Common Core, ISTE Standards, etc. all lay a framework for what the librarian, teacher, educator hopes to accomplish in a specific period of time with her students. Once “achievable learning goals” are set the educator must “define assessment criteria for these learning goals” (Louis and Harada, 2012, p. 14). There are multiple types of assessment that span from informal to formal. Informal assessment can be set up as a survey; one-on-one conversations, group discussions, or online surveys. These are generally not graded and might provide the librarian with an understanding of the students critical thinking skills, knowledge of library resources, and other useful feedback. More formal types of assessment include rubrics, tests, graphic organizers, the creation of journal entries, checklists, portfolios, etc. (ALA, 1998, p. 176-180). However, all forms of assessment allow for “reflection and appraisal of learning” on both the student and educator’s behalf (ALA, 1998, p. 174). Ann Kennedy, the librarian at Roland Park Elementary School in Baltimore, MD begins each library class with five minutes for an informal, short, and fun book review. She has students complete short “recommendation” cards for any books they read that week. These recommendations are then placed in a binder for other students to peruse for book suggestions. To the untrained eye her simple, ungraded, voluntary assessment may appear as any other activity, but it does follow the AASL criteria for the performance of assessment previously referenced in this paper. First, it allows for student self-assessment. While filling out the recommendation card the students are required to think critically about their interest in the book,

what makes it stand out against other books, and why other students might also like it. Second, Ann has a record of all these book recommendations and can refer back to them to assess her students literacy and critical thinking skills and track their improvement over time. Unfortunately, as this is a very basic form of library assessment it does not allow for student, teacher and librarian collaboration. It also leaves out a framework of standards, outcomes, or goals to help the librarian “determine how well the program is working to improve student achievement” (AASL, 2009). Ann also uses a number of graphic organizers to determine if her students are focused during class and whether or not they comprehend the lesson and skills taught. Again, this is another simple form of assessment, however, it covers the final purpose of assessment and when combined with the book recommendations holds more sway when tracked over time. Perhaps Ann could incorporate student and teacher surveys into her daily and weekly routine to further strengthen her collection of qualitative data? Many librarians feel pressured to be everything to everyone in the school community and there’s no reason they shouldn’t, as long as it is within the ramifications of the school library and its goals. When a school librarian works so hard every day and has no time left for herself then ultimately it is in her self-interest to track the change in skill level and learning growth in her students. Many educators live by Mahatma Gandhi’s message, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It is of utmost importance to the effective and long lasting school librarian to go one step further to track that change and share it with the world.

References AASL. (2009). Empowering learners: Guidelines for school library programs. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians. ALA. (1998). Information power: Building partnerships for learning. Chicago: American Library Association. Donham, J. (2008). Enhancing teaching and learning: A leadership guide for school library media specialists. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. Louis, P., & Harada, V. (2012). Did students get it?: Self-assessment as key to learning. School Library Monthly, 29:3, 13-16. Marie, K. (2005). From theory to practice; A new teacher-librarian tackles library assessment. Teacher Librarian, 33:2, 20-25. Martin, A. (2011). Data-driven leadership. School Library Monthly, 28:2, 31-33. Pappas, M. (2008). Designing learning for evidence-based practice. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 24:5, 20-23. Todd, R. (2001). Keynote paper: Virtual conference session. Retrieved from http://www.iasl-online.org/events/conf/virtualpaper2001.html

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