Using TRAILS to Assess Student Learning

Kolling, Kathleen

Curriculum and Assessment


Owen, P.L. (2010). Using TRAILS to assess student learning: A step-by-step guide. LMC, 28(6), 36-38.


TRAILS-9 is a knowledge test made up of multiple choice questions for grades 3,6,9, and 12 that assesses students’ knowledge of five information literacy areas: develop topic; identify potential resources; develop, use and revise search strategies; evaluate sources ad information; and recognize how to use information responsibly. It is great for teachers and librarians to use to capture a large amount of information quickly, to collaborate with classroom teachers, assess student learning, revise our instruction, and show evidence of our library’s impact on student learning. 


Using state test scores and TRAILS-9 scores, librarians can build standards-based lessons to bring to teachers, justifying their collaboration with data analyses. I was pleased to see that formative assessments are out there for librarians to use, specifically related to our instruction, and that they’re free! The four age levels available (Grades 3,6,9, and 12), are perfect check-in points for both teachers and librarians to see well students are receiving/understanding information literacy knowledge- midway through elementary school, the beginning of middle school, and the beginning and end of high school. I will definitely present this to my staff this school year.

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