The library media specialist must be committed to the collection of evidence to inform decisions and demonstrate program effectiveness.

man with pie chartShe's a great library media specialist.

His library is always filled with enthusiastic students.

Her students always create great projects.

These are wonderful accolades about teacher librarians, but how do we know for a fact that these wonderful media specialists are effective? How do we know that the library media program impacts student performance? How can we demonstrate our worth to the school board in facts, not just anecdotes? We need evidence.

Evidence based practice is the systematic process of documenting how a teacher librarian makes a difference in student learning.

eye means readRead Irrefutable Evidence by R. Todd in School Library Journal, April 2003; 49(4), 52. He suggests ways to boost student achievement. Follow up reading B. Kinney's interview of R.Todd, Ross to the Rescue also in School Library Journal, April 2006; 52(4), 44-47. (Access to both articles requires login)

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Is this realistic for library media specialists?

When classroom teachers and teacher librarians are collaborating on activities to impact student learning, it makes sense to collect data about the effectiveness of the activity. Traditional student assessments such as test score, rubrics, and checklists are the place to begin. However there are many other types of evidence that can be collected through the library media center such as circulation statistics and learning logs.

eye means readRead Free Voluntary Reading by N. Everhart and S. Angelos in Knowledge Quest, May/June 2002; 30(5). (PDF Document)

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What are evidence-based strategies?

David Loertscher suggests three evidence-based strategies (Loertscher, 2003):

Ongoing Data Collection. Involves using various information gathering techniques to monitor progress regularly. Data may be collected daily, weekly, monthly, or other regular measures. Techniques may include real-time tracking (i.e., hits at website), periodic gathering (i.e., check blog), or project collecting (i.e., end of project).

Go to the Collection Development page by McGriff, Preddy, and Harvey. Explore the ideas and examples for collecting circulation, library usage, and collection statistics.

Also read a recent report of initial data gathered from Surveys of Indiana School Library Media Specialists 2003-2004 (MS Word document will download to desktop). This study was an effort of the Association for Indiana Media Educators (AIME) in collaboration with the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science and the IU Public Opinion Laboratory at Indianapolis on the IUPUI campus.

Evidence-based Practices. Involves measuring effectiveness as the event occurs such as counting the use of proper citations in student PowerPoint presentations a few days after a mini-lesson on citing sources.

Action Research Projects. Involves conducting a formal study addressing specific questions about program effectiveness.

eye means readRead California Project Achievement: Brief Guide and Handouts (pdf document), national initiative to collect and present evidence that links library media programs to student achievement, 2003-05. Although designed for a California workshop you can easily apply these ideas to any program.

Read Building Evidence-based Practice Through Action Research by V.H. Harada.

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What is Project Achievement?

David Loertscher has spearheaded a national initiative called Project Achievement focusing on the collection and presentation of evidence that connects library media programs to student achievement.

He recommends the use of Ripple Effect Measures (Loertscher, 2003):

"significant measures that are most likely to produce results in achievement and indicate maximum teacher collaboration and organization effectiveness. Because you have these data, a ripple effect occurs, like throwing a pebble in a pool, triggering many other organizational practices and policies."

Loertscher's four measurement areas include:

Evidence is collected from three perspectives creating triangulation. This means gather evidence from various perspectives (Loertscher & Woolls, 2003):

eye means readRead Overwhelming Evidence by E. Oatman, School Library Journal, Jan. 2006; 52(1), 56-59 (Access requires login). The article presents information on a student research project and evidence collected at Gill Saint Bernard's School in Gladstone, NJ. The roles of teachers and librarians in the program are emphasized.

Two types of evidence are recommended (Loertscher, 2003):

eye means readRead National Project Achievement Brief: Guide and Handouts (pdf document). This document explains the initiative and provides the materials needed to participate in the collection of evidence.

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Words of Wisdom

Notable PersonRead about David V. Loertscher.

Well-known for his commitment to library media program evaluation, Loertscher's book We Boost Achievement! Evidence-Based Practice for School Library Media Specialists contains useful information and resources on topic topic.

Also read an article by D.V. Loertsher and B. Woolls: A True Assessment of Your Program’s Value, Learning Quarterly, School Library Journal, June 2003. The authors recommend that you base the success of your library media program on three sources of information.

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Check Your Understanding

info powerInformation Power - Program Administration: Principle 10.

Effective management of human, financial, and physical resources under girds a strong library media program (p. 100, 113)

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Make It Real

Your principal has announced that each department begin collecting evidence of the effectiveness of their program. You've been given David Loertscher's handout as a recommended place to start with the library media program. Read Project Achievement: Brief Guide and Handouts (PDF document, 2003) by David Loertscher.

You have two options:

Option 1

Select one of the four areas: reading, collaboration, information literacy, or technology described by Loertscher. Select particular aspects of the guidelines or samples that you think would be particularly worthwhile. Would you select an emphasis or make your project more general? Would you use the entire school or focus on a particular grade level or subject area? What direct and/or indirect measures would you use? Why?

Discuss how you would go about convincing your teachers to participate in this type of evidence-gathering activity. Your arguments should be aimed at the average overworked and underpaid teacher who may not be as enthusiastic as you are about this project.

Option 2

Develop a new measurement area or a subset of one of the basic four (i.e., primary sources, current events). Use the Collecting the Data project for ideas. Apply ideas from the four areas provided as examples. Create a Library Media Center Program Ripple Effect Measures page for your topic including LMC Agenda goals, Curriculum Agenda goals, pebbles to measure, justification, demonstrate through research and practice that..., and report.

Discuss why you think this approach would be effective with this topic.

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Read More About It

Everhart, N. & S. Angelos. Research Into Practice (Free Voluntary Reading), KnowledgeQuest. 30(5), May/June 2002. (PDF Document)

Harada, Violet H. Building Evidence-Based Practice Through Action Research, 2003.

Loertscher, D.V. & R.J. Todd, Ross J. We Boost Achievement! Evidence-Based Practice for School Library Media Specialists. Salt Lake City, UT: Hi Willow Research & Publishing, 2003.

McGriff, N.S., Preddy, L.B. & C.A. Harvey. Collecting the Data: Templates and Resources for the School Library Media Specialist.

Lance, K.C. Proof of the Power: Recent Research on the Impact of School Library Media Programs on the Academic Achievement of U.S. Public School Students. ERIC Digest, 2001.

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