Okay tonight on our SCASL list the query came through about how to give numerical grades to kids that visit the library once a week for a school population the equivalent of around 275 students.
Sounds like classic data analysis gone to the head of an administrator; data driven decisions and now a librarian asked to justify presence with accountability and grades. The LMS had already been assigning S, N, and U (satisfactory, needs improvement, and unsatisfactory) for quarterly report cards using an elaborate system of having students keep notebooks on mini research quests done in weekly class visits.
This begs questions that I dont have any answers too, like:
- What grade level is this school? If it’s elementary, how are k5 and 1st grade assessed using the notebook method?
- If students are taking notes and researching in their visit, when is there time to do read alouds, booktalks, teach how to find a book, or other typical reading advocacy and information literacy activities?
- Do the kids get to actually check out books?
- Is this LMS assessed using our state school librarian assessment tool, or a classroom teacher assessment tool? Sounds like the latter.
- When does the LMS spend time managing the program, i.e.weeding and building the collection, collaborating with teachers, being an effective technology leader in the building?
- What library program facets have been let go in order to serve (or should I say dis-serve) the school population with numerical grading?
So how would you respond to this request? I would just have to refuse. Besides carrying in Information Power and other sources to show (dare I say) best practice for school librarians, what other argument could this person present in defense of no grades for the library program?
It’s a sad state of school librarianship when the school librarian must assess students. Classic “beat it to fit; paint it to match” syndrome going on here. Yet another example of a school administrator who doesn’t seem to understand the purpose of this program in school, not to mention that potential of the staff member if utilized effectively.
Here was my response shared with our listserv:
I’m sorry, but this is ridiculous. How can you teach literacy,
build a love for reading, and maintain an effective library program if you are also having to worry about grades? It also sounds like a fixed schedule (re–>1X a week.)
I applaud your efforts to go along with the program, and it sounds as if you have adapted well. But please, how on earth can you apply numerical grades to this? Does the PE teacher have to also assign numerical grades? What is graded in PE? the number of laps run or jumps on the jump rope?
Sounds like admin is trying to “beat it to fit, paint it to match.” This just does not work well for your “classes”, much less a true library program. I’m fearful for you. Shocked and dismayed too. Please keep us informed on how you deal with this.
Please offer suggestions for this librarian.
‘Aceitunas Balaguer’ by Jorge Franganillo (via Flickr). CC BY licence.
‘Writing!’ by Markus Rödder (via Flickr). CC BY-ND licence.