Youth librarians were very much part of the picture at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, with key topics including diversity and underserved youth, technology legislation, and the ongoing buzz about the 2014 Youth Media Awards announcements on Monday morning. But it was all nuts-and-bolts at the Saturday, February 25 panel “School Librarian Evaluation: How Do We Rate?” during which library supervisors shared their process of creating and implementing new evaluation forms now required for school librarians in many districts across the country.
School librarians have not been traditionally included in evaluations, so many supervisors have had to build systems to measure the efficacy of the work that they do, according to the panel. Participants shared how they and others have created state-by-state assessments, taking cues from the widely used Marzano Evaluation model as well as the Danielson Domains system of teaching assessment.
“Because of Race to the Top, evaluation has become a difficult little game,” said Paige Jaeger, coordinator for school library services, Washington Saratoga Warren Hamilton Essex BOCES, in Saratoga Springs, NY. Librarians now “have to be contractually evaluated by their principal. They must have evidence and it must be observable. The principal must see evidence of efficacy in the students that leads to documentation of the efficacy.”
Jaeger described her process of helping to develop a tool for librarian evaluation that’s now used in New York state. She shared how she coaches school librarians to excel in categories, including planning and preparation, library environment, student instruction, and professional obligations. “If your librarians don’t know how to prove and archive evidence of their effectiveness, they’re not going to score well,” she told the audience of library supervisors and others. The documents now used include the New York State Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) Program Assessments and Librarian APPR rubric.
Emphasizing the “new focus on data collection” in school librarianship evaluation, Kathryn Lewis, Norman (OK) Public Schools director of media services & instructional technology, said that she “visits with librarians and gives principals talking points about what librarians are doing,” giving special focus to “how libraries are using technology and co-teaching.” Demonstrating the evaluation system used for the librarians she supervises, Lewis described how school librarians can document their activities in order to produce the required evidence for the new assessments
Librarians should document student growth and evidence of their outreach efforts to teachers as well as any collaborative projects that followed, suggested the panelists.
While Mary Keeling, supervisor of library media services at Newport News (VA) Public Schools, has devised assessment rubrics for grades K-2, 3-5, and other levels for the purposes of the new librarian assessments in her region, she admits “the idea of documenting student information literacy growth is overwhelming,”
Judi Moreillon, assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Women’s University, has devised a school librarian role assessment tool, along with a sheet to help school principals understand the key roles of school libraries entitled “What Every Principal Should Know.” While audience members discussed the possibility of linking student performance on certain test questions to information literacy skills learned in the library, Moreillon cautioned against such explicit correlations with library teaching.
Overall, Keeling advised, a successful school librarian should “be a teacher, think like a teacher.”