Monday, January 9, 2012

Standards standards everywhere, what is one to think?

The evolution of education in America has been a tricky process. As Blanche Wools discussed in her book The School Library Media Manager, "American education has been, is, and always will be in a state of change.  New theories are developed, refined, implemented-usually before they are tested adequately-then discarded in a cycle that finds educators reinventing wheels". Education is a constantly evolving process, with the outcome either being students who are prepared for life (or continued education) or who are incapable of entering the adult world. It's a high price to pay, hence we have developed standards, such as the No Child Left Behind Act, that set forth accountability standards that have long been overlooked by desperate administrators who needed a staff to teach the burgeoning number of students. 

School librarians can be the benefactors of these standards, or they can be lost in the shuffle (like so many other programs before them). With focusing on reading instruction and the necessity of preparing students with valuable information literacy skills to succeed at required standardized tests, School Librarians can and should play an essential role in the education system. 

Standard systems, such as the AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners, go a long way towards establishing the basic skills that librarians are working towards imparting in their students. These skills aren't necessarily measurable with a standardized test, but they are dispositions in action that are usable across curriculum and subjects. These are preparation for real life, not just for passing on to the next grade. 

Standards are valuable tools for defining where we want to end up and should be used as a starting point, or framework, for our instruction. The idea being that our instruction will teach these skills in the naturally progression of a class. Maybe it doesn't always work out as planned, but it does save us from constantly trying to reinvent the wheel and ensures that students are receiving a fair chance at education.


  1. You have the right attitude -- see the standards as the finish line. I always found it relatively easy to correlate lessons to standards. Others see standards and think they'd better rev up the test prep ... I always wondered why that mentality set in.

  2. What can we do to make these standards part of the curriculum. It seems that we can tout their value, but until they are tied to assessment how can we use them to defend our position and defining our purpose in the school?

  3. Good point about the results of standards--when taught in the right way, they can really prepare students for the real world. When taught wrong, with a test in mind, they can leave students vastly unprepared. Instead of trying to make librarian's teaching test-able, maybe they should make teacher's teaching less so.

  4. I like your point about school lessons being a prep for real life and not about passing on to the next grade. The newer standards do feel more like they are prepping children for the real life, while NCLB or teaching to the test feels more like shuffling kids on to the next grade. Sadly, I think that's how some teachers feel about certain students. They just don't want to deal with them anymore, and want to get them into the next grade and out of their hair. In the meantime, those children are learning nothing and are not prepared to handle the real world. Scary.


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