February 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

NY Districts Gain School Librarian Evaluation Tool

School librarians in New York State now have their own customized evaluation rubric, thanks to members of the New York Library Association (NYLA).

After two years of lobbying, the New York State Department of Education (NYSSED) approved the “School Librarian Evaluation Rubric,” which provides guidance to school districts on ways to evaluate the performances of their school librarians.

Fran Roscello

The tool came about when Paige Jaeger, coordinator of school library services at the Washington Saratoga Warren Hamilton Essex (WSWHE) BOCES, grew tired of listening to librarians complain how the New York State Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) didn’t really apply to school librarians. So Jaeger gathered a group of school library professional, including Fran Roscello, past president of the American Association of School Librarians, and Barbara Stripling, president–elect of the American Library Association—and together they developed a rubric that specifically addresses how to evaluate the role of school librarians.

The rubric contains 24 areas in which media specialists may be evaluated, including implementation of inquiry based learning, the teaching of literacy and informational skills, collaborating with teachers and administrators, and the pursuit of professional development. Librarians are rated based upon performance indicators that range from “Ineffective” to “Highly Effective”.

The path to having the state accept the evaluation tool wasn’t easy.  The group’s work was initially rejected because the state felt the rubric didn’t align with the state’s teaching standards. So it was back to the drawing board and to the field for input.

The librarian staff at the Bedford Central School District in Westchester, NY, beta-tested the evaluative tool. They felt it was fair in most aspects, but they did uncover some instances where specific wording needed to change. Their work was reflected in the final draft.

“I am a National Board Certified library media specialist who strives for excellence,” said Sue Polos, a librarian from Bedford, “But when I scored myself after meeting with my principal (who only used the rubric for a narrative write-up and for discussion, since we were still “satisfactory” or unsatisfactory” last year), I realized I had just scored enough points to be ‘Highly Effective.’”

The tool was again rejected, stating that the performance indicators didn’t clearly delineate enough difference between “Effective” and “Highly Effective.”

With more refinement, the New York Library Association resubmitted it, and this time they were successful. The organization believes that the newly adopted tool enables librarians to start a dialog with their building administrators.

“We expect that the state official stamp will strengthen the validity that those expectations that align with national standards for librarians and curriculum planning,” Jaeger told School Library Journal, explaining that she feels this document is transferable form state to state, even though it’s  aligned with New York teaching standards.

New York State school librarians say they’re excited to have a rubric that actually fits the various aspects of their position.

“We differentiate instruction and assessment for our students; differentiation in our own evaluations is very much needed and appreciated.” explained Paul Herr, president of the NYLA’s Section of School Librarians. “Currently, this is the only evaluation rubric that is targeted to a specific specialty area,” said Jeremy Johannesen, executive director of the New York Library Association. “The contribution of many is what made the document work.”

Check out the “School Librarian Evaluation Rubric.”



Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.



  1. Thanks Rocco for your coverage of “one giant step” for school librarians in NYS. I would also like to thank, Mary Ratzer who with Fran and myself, spent so many hours at the beginning getting this tool aligned with NYS teaching standards. Herr contribution to this tool (and our NY professional circle) is tireless and appreciated!

    • Patricia Leifer-Hayes says:


      Do you think that this tool might be made available so that other systems might see some of the options that you all found viable.? It would be a great help.