TLs are under increasing pressure to demonstrate that their role makes a difference in terms of student achievement and that their job is a specialist area that makes a real contribution to life long learning.
Simply advocating the importance of the library and its function is not enough. Without real evidence of what the TL is contributing, and what students are gaining from input and guidance of the TL, there is the risk that any advocating will fall on deaf ears. Evidence based practice is, “…the systematic process of documenting how a teacher librarian makes a difference in student learning”.(Lamb, 2004-2010b) The profession needs to be acutely aware of the requirement of TLs to build their expertise in anaysing their role and outcomes to further strengthen the position of the library in schools. TLs must also be confident with their knowledge of recent research findings and be able to translate that information into language that can be easily understood in addition to their own research.(Oberg, 2002)
According to Todd, (Todd, 2003), it is imperative to create a systematic approach to gathering authentic evidence of your impact on student learning. It is important to embed information literacy and evidence-procuring strategies into your planning of lessons. This focuses your planning on teaching explicitly what you want students to learn. It also makes clear to collaborating teachers what you are trying to achieve and how successful you have been, strengthening their confidence in your importance and further collaboration. Evidence of this nature also makes clear to staff that the role of the library is not just to teach information literacy separate to the school curriculum, but being able to competently show that reaching these standards has an impact beyond the school library. (Todd, 2007)
Evidence may be collected directly or indirectly on three different levels: learner, teacher, and organisational.(Loertscher, 2003) Test scores, rubrics, portfolios, reflections, evaluation forms, library statistics are just a few of the many ways that a TL can document their impact.
Evaluation of collected data will help a TL to determine whether their work is supporting the curriculum, the needs of students and being responsive to changes in the school program and new technology. Evidence-based reports make the TL accountable to the school community, justifies budgets and strengthens the perception of the library. (Lamb, 2004-2010a) It will also serve to make you more aware of your own failings as a teacher and collaborator and improve your own teacher performance. It is important to make this information concise and palatable to the wider school community and publish material in in such places as school annual reports, newsletters and on the school website, and to the school board if necessary to justify and request funding.
Lamb, A & Johnson, L. (2004-2010a). Library Media Program: Evaluation. The School Media Specialist. from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evaluation.html
Lamb, A & Johnson, L. (2004-2010b). Library Media Program: Evidence-based decision making. The School Media Specialist. Retrieved 23.03, 2013, from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evidence.html
Loertscher, D.V. (2003). California Project Achievement. Retrieved 24.03, 2013, from http://www.davidvl.org/Achieve/CAProjectAchievement.pdf
Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement? School libraries Canada, 22(2), 10-14.
Todd, R.J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. School Library Journal.
Todd, R.J. (2007). Evidenced-based practice and school libraries: from advocacy to action. In S. H.-H. V. H. Harada (Ed.), School Reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, CY: Libraries Unlimited.