Today, Library Development and Networking Director Deborah Littrell and I attended a meeting of the State Board of Education subcommittee on instruction to introduce the topic of revising the School Library Standards. The current standards were last updated in 2005. As we told the Board members, much has changed since 2005, including changes in the testing process in TEA (from TAKS to STAAR), shifts in technology and the rise of digital content, provisions in HB5, and more.
We told the committee that there were decades of research that confirm that a strong school library will have a demonstrated positive impact on student achievement. We shared an infographic from the American Association of School Librarians that cites this research (http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/advocacy/AASL_infographic_strongstudents-2013.pdf). And we shared a great editorial from the current issue of the Texas Library Journal on “The Importance of School Libraries” by Nicole Cruz, lead librarian at the Sharyland ISD.
The committee seemed impressed and asked good question. Board member Tom Maynard questioned us on the new roles of libraries of all types and we responded with comments about libraries as learning centers and places of civic engagement. We were also asked what the practical impact of the standards were, considering that they are voluntary. We responded that they serve as a target for excellence in school library services for both library staffs as well as principals, superintendents and boards across the state. While little comprehensive data exists to measure the impact, we have ample anecdotal information that 20 years of the standards have made a difference for school libraries in districts of all sizes across the state.
We look forward to working with the SBOE to move ahead to form a committee to revise the school standards and it is our hope that we can move along a timeline to have new standards in place by Spring of 2016. We applaud the outstanding job that school librarians do for their students and communities statewide and we look forward to consulting with them in the creation of the new standards.