Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Out of the Library, Into the Classroom

What's happening in Kansas isn't unique.

Wichita Public Radio's feature,  "The School Librarian is Expendable in many Kansas School Districts" documents a large scale shift in responsibility for information literacy instruction. As the number of school librarians dwindles, information literacy is being integrated into classroom curriculum to be addressed by teachers. How effective this will be, time will tell. Another case of teachers being asked to do more.

Neighboring Colorado is similarly affected, with a nine percent decline in the number of school librarians between 2007 and 2011.

In Illinois, Chicago Public Schools reduced its librarian staff by 44 percent in just two years. Librarians are being reassigned to classrooms as teachers. Faced with a teacher shortage, it's a move that makes sense. But part of the problem of considering librarians a luxury comes down to this:
"There's no required amount of minutes for library instruction (in Illinois), so schools won't face any repercussions if they don't have a librarian or a school library." Source
For the time being, other things are just more important. It's hard to make the argument that digital research skills are as important as learning how to learn when there is no reason to learn them other than they are good skills to have. When they are considered essential skills, the tide may start to change.

In the meantime, policy makers should see how proficient students in Elementary through High School are. This means assessment. The Information Fluency assessments we've tested show that students can't research challenging assignments and consistently make poor choices in the selection of information that is inaccurate, irrelevant, out of date, biased and is not held in high regard by trusted sources. If you are a librarian concerned about your job or a classroom teacher who just doesn't have the time to teach one more thing, request a free test for your students. The results could be eye-opening.

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