Standards have several definitions among them, according to Merriam Webster, are “ideas about morally correct and acceptable behavior,” “something that is very good and that is used to make judgments about the quality of other things,” and “a level of quality, achievement, etc., that is considered acceptable or desirable.” The first definition is a personal one that guides our actions and choices in life. We deal with the next two in our professional lives.
We have always had curricular standards, but Common Core pushed that into high gear. It became tied to high stake tests, which in many places were use in the evaluations of teachers and librarians, affecting their future. While this has been moderated somewhat, the underlying truth is that none of us can ignore national and state standards.
Common Core is in the process of disappearing as ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) takes its place. We are still learning how it will be applied and how it will impact school library programs. While the Act includes libraries in funding, obtaining it is not automatic. Librarians on the national, state, and local level need to be prepared in order to participate in the funding.
AASL has a “landing site” for information about ESSA. It include a PDF from ALA’s Washington Office on Opportunities for School Librarians which is a good place to start. There is also a link to District Dispatch’s ESSA Updates and to Updates on Knowledge Quest. (Dorcas Hand’s posts from what the Texas Library Association is doing are particularly helpful.) Be sure to check both of these links regularly. Your own state library association is probably gathering information for you as well, and will undoubtedly be putting on programs at their annual conferences. You need to be aware of what they have on their website and to make attending the conference a priority.
In addition to these national standards, our teaching needs to be aligned with our own library standards. ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) has just updated its Standards for Students, replacing the 2007 ones. Standards for Teachers and another for Administrators will follow, along with standards for computer science educators and coaches. Based on the past, these will reflect the Standards for Students.
The changes between the old and the new are highly significant and highlight what has happened in the intervening nine years. The areas covered in the 2007 standards are:
- Creativity and Innovation
- Communication and Collaboration
- Research and Information Fluency
- Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
- Digital Citizenship
- Technology Operations and Concepts
At first glance they seem quite appropriate for today’s students—until you see the new areas which are:
- Empowered Learner
- Digital Citizen
- Knowledge Constructor
- Innovative Designer
- Computational Thinker
- Creative Communicator
- Global Collaborator
A short paragraph explains the meaning and context of these areas and then gives four indicators for each. We are putting much more demands on students being able to produce and contribute in new ways in order to succeed in the global society.
The ISTE Standards are available as a free download and you should start integrating them into your teaching. Share them with your teachers and administrators. Possibly because ISTE throws a wider net than just school librarians, administrators are often more interested in them.
The AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner were also published in 2007, and like the ISTE ones need to be updated. The process began in March 2015 and the new standards will be released in the fall of 2017 along with implementation tools to help you incorporate them into your teaching. The roll-out will coincide with AASL’s 18th National Conference and Exhibition to be held from November 9 to 12 in Phoenix, Arizona. Start planning now to attend.
The links and list of standards seems overwhelming, but when you look more closely, you can see how many are the same just stated differently and/or from a slightly different perspective. Work on including as many as you can into your teaching to demonstrate how you transform student learning and help them achieve on high stakes tests –and life.
Which standards are you now using? Which challenge you? Which do you want to add?