LLAA Project Overview
Studies conducted in twelve states by Keith Lance, Ross Todd, and others have shown the positive impact that a strong library media program has on student academic achievement. When the library media specialist is actively involved in the instructional program of the school, collaborating with teachers and teaching information literacy skills, academic achievement is higher.
For example, Keith Lance reports in the 2000 Colorado study, How School Librarians Help Kids Achieve Standards: "Schools with well-developed library media programs average 10% to 15% higher on fourth grade reading scores and 18% higher on seventh grade reading scores than schools where libraries are less developed. Where library media staff collaborates with classroom teachers, reading scores average increases of 8% at the fourth grade level and 18% to 21% at the seventh grade level." Findings from the 1999 Pennsylvania study, Measuring Up to Standards, show that when all library media predictors were maximized, reading scores tended to run 10 to 15 points higher.
Yet this state-level evidence is no longer enough. As Ross Todd notes, "Principals, teachers, and parents want to hear of local successes; they want to know how their students—not other schools—are benefiting. Local outcomes matter" (2003b, 14). We must produce the evidence, locally, that what we do with children makes a difference. The documents that follow will help you, the Virginia library media specialist, make the connection between library and academic achievement at your school!
In an article in the March 2004 issue of Library Media Connection, "It's All About Learning: Ensuring that Students are Effective Users of Information on Standardized Tests," Mike Eisenberg points out the necessary connection between library, information literacy skills instruction, and state curriculum standards. He makes a strong case that library media specialists should be very aware of state standards, know which ones are tested, collaborate with teachers to teach information literacy skills related to those state standards, and then collect data on the impact of the library instruction. The Linking Libraries and Academic Achievement documents will help you to do just that!
Scope of Project
Through a collaborative effort, the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Educational Media Association developed a resource that provides a framework for aligning school library media programs with both national and state standards. Over thirty Virginia library media specialists and other educators representing twenty-two school divisions and Longwood University, working as an online community, created the main document and supporting materials. The resource is structured for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
Due to the challenges of scheduling, many teachers do not have an opportunity to accompany their classes to the library. Often teachers are required to attend team meetings or the time has been designated as a planning period. This document demonstrates that learning does not stop when students enter the library and lessons taught in the library are an extension of the lessons taught in the classroom. Library lessons are based on the academic standards for the core content areas of History/ Social Sciences, Science, English, and Mathematics.
One of the unique features of this document is the section on information retrieval skills. Students need specific information literacy skills as well as the content standards in order to be successful. For example, it is not sufficient for a student to simply know that the online catalog is a database of the materials in the library media center, if a student cannot go from the computer to the shelves and locate the materials. Needed skills were identified and strategies and activities were developed. Collaboration between library media specialists, classroom teachers, and technology integration specialists is essential for academic achievement. Sample activities for skill development and ideas for technology integration are also provided.
A positive outgrowth of the project is the realization that although demographics and budgets may vary, the challenges facing each of the Virginia's one hundred and thirty three districts are basically the same. The research for this project has encouraged collaboration with curriculum and technology leaders and has resulted in a better awareness of the role of school library media specialists and school libraries in meeting the academic needs of students. The project provides opportunities for development of new partnerships and for strengthening school library programs across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Standards of Learning
In Virginia, scores on the Standards of Learning tests measure academic achievement. One component of a school division's accreditation is determined by the percentage of students who successfully pass the SOL tests. Much emphasis in classroom instruction is given to teaching the materials that are included in the testing process. Tests are given yearly in English, Math, Science, and History/Social Sciences. These standards are reviewed on a regular basis. Resource materials and curriculum frameworks are adopted to accompany the objectives to be taught.
The library media specialists have endeavored to incorporate the standards of all content areas into the teaching and learning component of the library media center program. Collection development has revolved around the providing the resources required to teach the content. As technology has increased in the school environment, library media specialists have been on the forefront to embrace it as another educational tool to increase student academic achievement.
A number of research studies have proven a strong relationship between school libraries and academic achievement. Over the past ten years at least thirteen states, including Colorado, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, have conducted research to determine the relationship between school library programs and academic achievement.
Regardless of the demographics of the study, each confirmed the findings of the previous studies. There are several overwhelming conclusions.
- Students with access to high quality library programs score higher on standardized tests.
- Students with access to libraries with highly trained and certified library media specialists score higher on standardized tests.
- Schools with higher test scores have library collections reflective of the needs of the curriculum
- The quality of the library program is reflected in the role that the library media specialist plays in the instructional program of the school.
Collaboration and Information Power
Administrators and all instructional staff benefit from an understanding of how school library media center instructional programs result in increased academic achievement. The Virginia Department of Education has partnered with the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) to develop a resource aligning Virginia's Standards of Learning with national information literacy standards. The online documents include strategies for collaboration, suggested information retrieval skills, and ideas for technology integration that can be replicated in any school library program.
The Linking Libraries and Academic Achievement (LLAA) project is built upon the premises outlined in Information Power. The project addresses teaching and learning by identifying the skills that students need in order to be successful in meeting both state and national standards. It goes beyond just matching a state/national standard with an objective. It identifies the specific skills that students need to move from answering questions on the standards assessment tool to usage and application in the real world.
This project requires the collaboration between all instructional personnel working as a team to provide multiple opportunities for students to become successful life-long learners. It requires that the library media specialist have a clear working understanding of content and instructional delivery systems.
Access to information is no longer limited to the printed page. Computers and the Internet are found in fast food establishments, airport terminals, and many public buildings. Access is everywhere. We must continue to use the school library media center, as a pathway for teaching students how to extract information to meet their needs, be it academic or personal.
Access is important but, more importantly; access must be to accurate, current and valid resources. The Linking Libraries project provides school library media specialists with suggested strategies and resources, both print and electronic, that will assist them in providing and creating high quality materials for both teachers and students.
Virginia's state technology plan (PDF) encourages school divisions to adopt an information literacy model. While each division may choose to adopt one of the national models, they are also able to develop their own. Linking Libraries shows that the nine standards as outlined in Information Power can easily be incorporated into the existing standards of learning. The project is designed so that teachers and library media specialists see a direct connection between national information literacy skills, core content skills, and the technology skills that will be outlined in the revised computer standards of learning.
Librarian versus Library Media Specialist Library versus Library Media Center
Librarian, library media specialist, school library media specialist, media specialist, information manager, teacher-librarian, resource teacher, technology specialist, library teacher, instructional support personnel; working in libraries, school library media centers, media centers, resource centers, information centers, learning media center and instructional labs.
The school division determines the name of the program and the position. Permission is granted to change the wording to reflect the philosophy of the school division.
Explanation of the template
- Content Standard (selected from previously released test items) and
- Computer Technology Standards and Information Power Standard (Strand), Updated from the 1986 Library Media SOL (Grade).
- Information Retrieval Skills
Task analysis of the skills students will need in order to be successful at meeting the above listed standards.
The student will use advanced search strategies such as entering multiple keywords combined with Boolean operators to locate information from an online database or online Catalog. The student will use the index to locate specific information in an almanac.
- Library Media Strategies
- Collaboration between the librarian and the classroom teacher is essential for student academic achievement.
- Strategies that the librarian will employ to make sure that students have the necessary skills.
- Best practices suggest that the librarian will examine the collection to ensure that sufficient resources exist to support the assignment.
- Best practices suggest that the classroom teacher and the librarian will work together to plan the lesson and the evaluation techniques for the assignment.
- Additional strategies will be located in an appendix that will be published at a later date.
- Local Strategy
Space for customization of the template to reflect the local building level librarian strategies.
- Sample Project/Activity
In grades K-8, these activities can be completed within a 30 – 45 minute block of library time or can be extended at the discretion of the librarian. While the involvement of the classroom teacher is the best practice, the activities can be completed independent of the classroom teacher.
Activities suggested for grades 9-12 may require additional time and require the direct involvement of the classroom teacher. Additional projects and activities will be located in an appendix that will be published at a later date.
- Local Activities
Projects and activities that are developed in collaboration with teachers within the local school building should be added here.
- Technology Connections (from state plan)
The Educational Technology Plan for Virginia (PDF)
- Technology Connection (division plan)
List any particular software, equipment, or activities that are a directly related to the school or division technology plan.
How to Use This Document
This resource is intended as a guide for linking libraries to student academic achievement. It is not intended to be a curriculum guide but a resource that will provide direction to librarians who are designing library programs that connect with the total school instructional program. This resource will only be successful when all members of the instructional staff are collaborative partners in its implementation.
- Download and save the document appropriate for the grade levels in your building.
- Identify ways to customize the template to reflect local strategies, activities, and technology connections.
- Share the document with others in the building.
- Download and use the Microsoft Excel tracker files to monitor progress and to gather data regarding the library's role in instruction.