Learning Environment Assessment:On the Path to Success! Jennifer Gladkowski Maegen Rose LIS 773: School Libraries Assessment of School Library Program
Donald L. Morrill Math &Science Specialty School Donald L. Morrill School is a Chicago public elementary school located on the Southwest side of the city. It has a population of 850 students. 55% of the student population is Latino, and 45% is African American. 20% of the student population have special needs. The school has been on academic probation for the past 12 years, but the 2011-2012 school year saw improved ISAT scores. http://morrillcps.org/
Learning Environment #1"The school library encompasses both physical and virtualspaces that provide flexible, equitable, and efficient access toresources for all learners." (Linking for Learning, p. 32)~ Historically, the school librarian did not create a spaceaimed at ensuring learners of all levels could access physicalor virtual resources.~ There is little evidence of a virtual space beyond theavailability of a few computers and other equipment in thelibrary.~ Given the seriously outdated nature of materials foundthroughout the library, the collection had not been weeded inover a decade, nor did it represent the growing needs of theschool population.
Learning Environment #1 (cont.)~ It is unclear what library policies and procedures were inplace for collection development, circulation, technology andoverall learning.~The ability to have a well-planned, technology rich, student-focused library media center has always existed, butopportunities and resources were not severely under-utilized.Based on an in-person visit of the library andinformation provided by the new school librarian, thelibrary program rates as Deficient in LearningEnvironment #1, according to the Illinois School LibraryMedia Program Guidelines Rubric.
Learning Environment #2"The school library consists of both physical and virtual resources that havebeen selected through strategic planning, research, and evidence-basedpractice." (Linking for Learning, p. 34)Physical Resources:~Up until now, reference collection has stagnated; most recent set ofencyclopedias is from 2004.~Collection does not fully represent the needs of the student population - notenough engaging nonfiction texts.~Fiction collection is a mixed bag of outdated titles, as well as a limited amountof newer, award-winning and commercially popular titles.~There is a need for a graphic novel collection and wider array of young adulttitles.~Collection has not been weeded or maintained in accordance with theChicago Public Schools Collection Development Policy:http://policy.cps.k12.il.us/documents/604.7.pdf
Over 100 copies of the HarryPotter series, books 1-7 It is important for school library collections to have popular materials available to students. However, those materials should be diverse and available in a variety of formats.
Learning Environment #2 (cont.)Virtual Resources:~Student and teacher surveys indicate that online databases are not utilized;most teachers were not even aware the district subscribes to these databases.~There is available technology available in the library (SmartBoard, projector,document camera, and desktop computers) but has not been utilized regularlyup to this point by students or previous librarian.~There are a limited number of playaways and audio books, a greater variety offormats is needed to provide access to text for students with special needs(20% of student body).~Teachers indicate a lack of collaboration between themselves and thelibrarian about digital resources available to the school community.Based on the evidence, the library program rates Deficient in LearningEnvironment #2, according to the Illinois School Library Media ProgramGuidelines Rubric.
A well-organized space is key to a librarys usability. Thespace should be both functional and practical, striking adelicate balance between physical resources and virtualexploration. This library has great room for improvement.
Learning Environment #3"The school library media program receives adequate annual funding from theappropriate local authority to achieve program goals." (Linking for Learning, p.36)~Previous administration prepared the budget with little to no input fromlibrarian.~Funds were not well maintained previously, as evidenced by large quantitiesof single titles, brand-new unshelved books, and unopened Leap Pad devices.~Lack of evidence of advocacy for funding, as outdated reference andnonfiction collection demonstrates.~Previous administration failed to encourage previous librarian to utilizeavailable technology.~Current administration has pushed the use of tablets and ereaders, and haspurchased these devices to ensure their use.~No grants were applied for within the last 10 years.~Current administration has provided a sizable budget to develop the physical& virtual collection.Based on the evidence, the library program rates as Basic in LearningEnvironment #3, according to the Illinois School Library Media ProgramGuidelines Rubric.
Learning Environment #4The school library media program respects the principles ofprofessional ethics, intellectual freedom, and the ethical andresponsible use of information. (Linking for Learning, p. 38)~ The new school librarian could not identify any prior models orefforts to teach the school community about ethical and responsibleuse of information.~ Historically, there has been little, if any collaboration between theschool librarian and the teachers.~ No policies on internet safety, acceptable use or challengedbooks were found.The library program rates as Deficient in LearningEnvironment #4, according to the Illinois School Library MediaProgram Guidelines Rubric.
The Future of the Library ProgramNext Steps:Despite this assessment, the current administration, after one year on the job,is making a concerted effort to transform this library program into one that isviable and provides engaging, high-quality resources to its students. Byreplacing the previous librarian with a new one who is currently pursuing anMLIS, it is likely students will be empowered to become "well-informed learnersand decision makers." The addition of current technology, formats, andrelevant collection materials all seek to ensure that students will graduate from8th grade well-equipped and prepared to succeed in high school.
Library Program Goals~Provide professional development for teachers on how to use the onlinecatalog and databases~Instruct all students how to use the online research tools ethically~Create a functional school library website and blog~Purchase new and relevant materials, including fiction & nonfiction titles,magazines, database subscriptions, and ebooks for use on 35 Nooks and 6iPads~Subscribe to professional library journals~Continue to weed the collection monthly to make room for new materials~Empower students and staff to utilize all available technology resources~Collaborate with classroom teachers to ensure library instruction supportsclassroom instruction as well as the Common Core State Standards
ReferencesChicago Public Schools Department of Libraryand Information Services. http://cpslibraries.wikispaces.com/.Donald L. Morrill Math & Science Specialty School. http://morrillcps.org/.Illinois School Library Media Association. (2010). Linking for Learning. 3rd edition. Canton, IL: ISLMA.