Every Student Succeeds Act
Every Student Succeeds Act
Thank you to all of you who have spoken up at the Iowa DE Listening Tour meetings starting in September. We appreciate your willingness to show the Department of Education how important you believe effective school library programs and certified school librarians are for Iowa schools. We continue to solicit your feedback and are preparing recommendations that we plan to share with the DE before its April 6, 2017, deadline to submit an ESSA Implementation Plan to the US Department of Education.
- Wednesday, Nov. 2 - Grant Wood AEA, Cedar Rapids
- Monday, Nov. 7 - Great Prairie AEA, Ottumwa
- Wednesday, Nov. 9 - AEA 267, Cedar Falls
In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. ESSA replaces No Child Left Behind and includes language regarding "effective school library programs."
In order to meet the demands of today's learning needs, school librarians across the state are asking the Iowa DE to look at new and expanded sources of federal money in addition to state and local funds. In particular, we encourage the Iowa DE to bundle up and apply for federal programs like Innovative Approaches to Literacy for high needs schools.
IASL & ESSA
IASL has been working very hard to ensure that the Iowa Department of Education includes school librarians as they implement ESSA here in Iowa. A work group is working with John Chrastka from the nonprofit group Everylibrary.org. We have communicated with the Iowa DE and had representatives speak at listening meetings across the state about the importance of school librarians and effective school library programs.
Statement from IASL
The Iowa Association of School Librarians (IASL) is pleased to offer the following recommendations to Iowa Department of Education concerning the development of our state’s ESSA Draft Plan.
As the Iowa DE considers ways to implement an accountability system that acknowledges meaningful differences between schools and addresses the success of all students as well as sub-groups of students, we encourage you to adopt accountability policies and processes that utilize effective school library programs and school librarians as drivers for success. An effective school library program provides instruction designed to maximize student growth and progress, student academic achievement, and student progress in English language proficiency. Effective school library programs help close student performance gaps and increase post-secondary readiness. The Iowa DE’s goals of increasing graduation rates by providing comprehensive and rigorous instructional support across all grade levels and content areas should acknowledge and integrate school libraries and licensed librarians for their significant and sustained work supporting in student achievement.
School Interventions and Improvement
As the Iowa DE considers strategies for school improvement, the school librarian community wants to highlight a 2013 report from the National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE) shows that when school librarians are highly involved leaders, they play a critical role in their schools through consistent and sustained collaboration with other educators. Significant new Title funding is becoming available through ESSA that would, if applied for and put to work by Iowa Department of Education and AEAs, allow licensed librarians to focus on school improvement not only through direct student contact but also through professional development for all faculty members on information literacy and resources, instructional technology, and more. Collaboration among faculty and high quality professional development both play vital roles in the school improvement process. We want to highlight that evidence from study after study shows that the presence of an effective school library program and a certified school librarian positively affect all aspects of student achievement. We recommend that Iowa DE consider the absence or presence of these effective school library programs and certified school librarians as a way to differentiate between schools, and that support for programs and positions is a fundable intervention.
Standards and Assessment
As the Department of Education considers how to create, implement, and measure challenging academic standards, we want to remind you that licensed school librarians are trained specifically to help students achieve the stated actions and goals of Iowa Core Standards. Licensed school librarians teach research and evaluation skills every day. Only a centralized, curriculum-aligned school library program with an extensive range of print and nonprint materials can provide the differentiated and diverse reading and listening environment necessary to achieve the Iowa Core Standards. Classroom libraries do not meet the depth nor breadth nor variety of informational texts required by the Iowa Core Standards. We urge IDOE to fully utilize federal Title monies like the Innovate Approaches to Literacy grant to help high needs schools fully realize the academic gains of an effective school library program, and Title funds allow our school librarian colleagues to help implement challenging academic standards across the curriculum.
Teachers and Leaders
The Iowa Association of School Librarians encourages the Iowa Department of Education to enhance the statewide Teacher Leadership Program by recognizing certified teacher librarians as teacher leaders across schools and districts. School districts should be encouraged to utilize teacher librarians’ expertise as leaders in professional development activities and utilize them for peer support for PD and CE in all settings. Schools and Districts can provide release time for the teacher librarians to lead and attend targeted professional development, which could include identifying resources (both digital and print) and evaluating and using the information to complete a learning task or project. Additionally, the teacher librarians can cultivate and sustain partnerships with institutions of higher learning, non-profit organizations, public libraries and corporations that can provide professional development experiences for educators. Furthermore, teacher librarians can lead and implement school wide professional development activities, particularly related to digital resources, digital literacy and citizenship, and gathering resources to support personalized professional learning initiatives. These actions, along with grant writing support, should build capacity and strengthen the effectiveness of both teachers and leaders.
We urge the Iowa Department of Education to fully utilize federal Title monies like the “Innovate Approaches to Literacy” grant to help high needs schools fully realize the academic gains of an effective school library program, and other Title funds allow our school librarian colleagues to help implement challenging academic standards across the curriculum. School librarians act as collaborative instructional partners with other teachers to directly impact student learning and achievement and to advance curriculum development. We provide students with equitable access to up-to-date digital and print materials and technology and teach students appropriate and responsible technology use. Having a certified teacher librarian in the school has repeatedly correlated with increased student achievement in decades of studies of both quantitative and qualitative measures.
Highly qualified and certified teacher-librarians not only work with the general K-12 student population, but also with the preschool and ECSE population. Teacher-Librarians are shown to decreased educational achievement gap for students entering school and provided students with a seamless transition from early learning settings to elementary school setting. We believe that a focus on early interventions through effective library programs will increase student confidence, success in learning, and achievement by students in all groups. A September survey polled K-12 teacher-librarians in Iowa requesting information about teaching preschool and the ECSE programs. 76% of the teacher-librarians surveyed work with these student populations. A certified teacher-librarian also assists the instructors find technologies available to help the multi-sensory needs of these early childhood learners. Iowa DE should consider utilizing school librarians as professional development leaders for other staff and help maximize their role regarding parent and family engagement strategies to help ensure that families are actively engaged in their child’s education. Iowa DE can capitalize on the school librarian’s connections with public librarians in order to provide joint professional learning opportunities with early childhood educators to help equip elementary school teams with knowledge and skills drawn from lessons of the early learning system.
The role of the teacher librarian in Iowa schools is evolving to meet 21st century learning needs and to integrate technological tools to enhance instruction and support multiple literacies. Iowa's best schools have library programs that engage the entire school community to elevate the learning experience for all. In order to meet the demands of today's learning needs, school librarians across the state are asking the Iowa DE to look at new and expanded sources of federal money in addition to state and local funds. In particular, we encourage the Iowa DE to bundle up and apply for federal programs like Innovative Approaches to Literacy for high needs schools.
New Title II and Title IV monies are available for library programs and our ESSA Plan should specifically encourage investments in academic and technology programs and services through effective school library programs. New Title monies are also available for school librarians for Continuing Education and Professional Development. We are recommending that the state takes part of its Title IV-Part A monies to hire staff dedicated to supporting school library programs and school librarians, including federal grant applications. Please know that the school librarian community is an interested, invested, and eager partner in this project for years to come.
For more information, check out AASL ESSA Resources: Essa and School Libraries.