Independent School Librarians and Common Core: What Are We Doing?

Brandt, Alisa

MacLean, C. D. (2013, December 25). Independent school librarians and Common
    Core: What are we doing? [Blog post]. Retrieved from Independent Ideas

CO-Collaboration Strategies
CO-School Organization
IL-Communication of Products

I have had over 15 years of experience working in independent school libraries and now eight MLIS courses under my belt. I have noticed a serious lack of scholarly library research materials directed entirely at independent school libraries so my goal is to find materials that will support this underrepresented population.
Most independent schools do not rely on government funding and thus do not have to implement programs such as Common Core. The idea is that the curriculum will have already included those standards and content and more. So, it follows that independent school libraries will have other standards and goals to help the school accomplish their mission.
This article from the Association of Independent School Librarian’s blog Independent Ideas is about how independent school librarians addressed the emergence of Common Core Standards in their libraries. As will most standards and guidelines, independent school librarians tend to study up on the newest state and national standards and look for ways to integrate the best of what would apply to their schools. C. D. MacLean offered her library’s solution of using the AASL CCSS Crosswalk in combination with their school’s own standards to create a document that will help compare their alignment with the state standards. This would allow the librarians to focus on areas that will meet their school standards while including the state standards.
There are also some suggestions of useful LibGuides and an iPad app that will help Language Arts teachers integrate technology into the classroom.
Evaluation: Seeing examples of how independent school librarians are working with state standards helps me understand how I can apply them to my own library. The links and the app suggestion are also very helpful.

A review of: Statistics About California School Libraries

A review of: Statistics About California School Libraries
This is the annual data collection of trends pertaining to California School Libraries and the level of library resources made available to students from year to year.
This information isn’t derived from an article, but from the source that directly collected the information.  I reviewed quantitative data that’s been collected for the California Department of Education reflecting the 2013/2014 School Year to examine the availability and types of services offered to California students in grades K-High School.
According to the California Department of Education, in 2013-14, 4,273 California schools completed the survey representing 43 percent of schools (CDE). The CDE report shares, “The following statistical snapshot is based on these data as well as data collected by the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) (CDE)”.
While the intentions of what California will do with this information is unclear, it is encouraging to learn library surveys have gone out to schools across the state.  Findings shared by the California Department of Education show that, California continues to rank at the bottom of professional library staffing numbers. In 2012, the California ratio was 1:7,374 (2011-12 CBEDS Report) and in 2014-15 the ratio dropped to 1:7,187(CDE). Considering the size professional staffed deficit, I’m intrigued and curious as to why California ranks so low in areas of professional librarian support systems. What first comes to mind is the size of California. According to the California Department of Education Fingertips Facts on Education, there are 6,235,520 students in grades K-12th in the state.  Student to educator ratios in general are often compromised, and teacher librarians as important and valued as they may be, are low on the list of improvements for quality the state desires. Another factor that might influence these low rankings can come from the specific requirements Teacher Librarian Service Credential holders are required to have. These requires are in addition to the standard Teaching Credentials these educators must have. In many instances the pay for teacher librarians offers little compensation for amount of extra education and training required to obtain this specialized credential.
Another area of interest in this report, is the acknowledgement of print material as well as web-based. The need for print material is connected to the Common Core State Standards. This condition, validates the significance of having a credentialed teacher librarian as part of the team to increase the quality of student educational experience. 
Since 2011, a steady decline of teacher librarians work in California Public Schools. In my research experience, this decline correlates with state budget cuts. The question isn’t if California can increase the quality of their libraries for students, but when. Many new grants are becoming available within the state to improve California public school libraries.
Statistics About California School Libraries
This is the annual data collection of trends pertaining to California School Libraries and the level of library  resources made available to students from year to year.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
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Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Common Core

Bullard, Sherrie


Krashen, S. s. (2014). THE COMMON CORE. (cover story). Knowledge Quest, 42(3), 36-45.


The author argues that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will not benefit students and ignore the issue of poverty which is the real problem in American education. He claims that the CCSS will only profit a small group of the elite and turn schools into test-prep centers. He debunks the evidence in support of the argument for the adoption of CCSS which is low international test scores and explains why controlling poverty would boost the performance of American students.


Although I don’t agree with the author one hundred percent, I do think that CCSS are more of a problem than a solution.

Understanding the Common Core Standards: What they are – What they are not.

Brugioni, Angela

Understanding the Common Core Standards. (2014). Education Digest, 79(8), 16-21.

ET – Educational Theory and Practice ET – Restructuring  ET – Standards-based Education  ET – Government and Professions 

CA- Curriculum Assessment CA – Common Core Assessments

This article is handy fact sheet for the Common Core State Standards. Along with describing the Common Core and how they are intended to work in conjunction with State mandated curriculum this article explains misconceptions surrounding the Common Core. Being new to the Common Core, I had wondered why they only included language arts and math standards. There is a separate but similar initiative that was developed for science and engineering and released in 2013 called the Next Generation Science Standards. As far as the role of the government in all of this, they have provided funds for the development of “next-generation” assessments aligned with Common Core standards, which are expected for release in 2014-15. Behind the opposition to Common Core are the Tea Party and Libertarians who “disapprove of the idea of national standards in the belief that educational decisions are rightfully made by parents and local communities.” In addition some progressive educators believe that “Common Core will impose more test-driven accountability and open the door to corporate influence over education.”

This is a worthwhile read for those new to Common Core, or looking for clarification on who is behind the initiative and what the process has been for its application. I would have actually liked it to be longer and more detailed, but I feel like a lot is explained in a short few segments. The article is also biased towards the Common Core, but there is a fair assessment included of the challenges faced by schools for implementation in terms of cost, administrative duties and obligations, technology needs, training of staff, etc.

Freeman, Annelise


Krashen, S. (2014). THE COMMON CORE. (cover story). Knowledge Quest42(3), 36-45.


Krashen discusses his feelings on how the common core standards will be devastating for schools and libraries and that the real issue in our schools is not underperformance but poverty.  In the article he addresses what it will take to implement the new standards and how he believes that poverty in our schools is a larger issue affecting student performance than what standards are implemented.  


Krashen brings up some valid points in his article about poverty and also about the funding required to implement the CCSS standards.  Some of the points that resonate with me were the amount of technology required to implement the new testing and the student’s level of access to this technology.  The testing, in reality, requires a higher level of technology than my site possesses but we are doing our best to cobble together the required number of computers for all of our students.  We are running into many issues that do not pop up when we use the few new Chromebooks we have vs. the 12 year old Dell desktops now running the defunct XP.  However, we have no money to outfit the entire school with new computers or Chromebooks and the wifi to use the Chromebooks has not been completely installed.  Students who come from poorer socio economic settings also do not have the keyboarding and word processing skills that are now required on the test, where in the past students were able to write, they are now required to type.  I do not necessarily agree completely with Krashen’s argument but I do believe he brings up some valid points.  

Inquiry Learning Vs. Standardized Content

Jessica Benson
Markham, T. (2013). Inquiry Learning Vs. Standardized Content: Can They Coexist? Mind/Shift. KQED. Retrieved from
Markham argues that sooner or later inquiry-standards will take precedence over content-based standards,” with the learning process at the forefront. This new method of teaching and learning seems to be at odds with a standards-based curriculum. Markham offers suggestions for integrating 21stcentury skills into the curriculum, a start toward effective project based learning and inquiry based education.

Intentional instruction and team learning form the basis of Markham’s article. The question remains, however: How do educators shift into PBL and deep inquiry while addressing the standards and testing? Markham points out some of the major obstacles, but I do wish the article delved deeper into setting a balance between inquiry and content. The problems and opportunities of the shift to inquiry-based learning only begin at the practical, implementation level. 

Common Core, Content Creation, and Curriculum.

Engelbrecht, Shannon.


Troutner, J. (2012). Common Core, Content Creation, and Curriculum. Teacher Librarian, 40(2), 48-50.

Summary: The author, Joanne Troutner, provides a guided tour to various online resources and tools for learning about and teaching the common core state standards (CCSS). It lists many examples of popular online learning and social media tools that have been used to create and share CCSS information and curriculum.

Evaluation: This article takes quite a long time to read, even though it is less than a thousand words long. Each paragraph guides the reader on a tour of a common core content implementation of a popular online tool. For example, the first paragraph invites the reader to look over a Pinterest board of CCSS related materials. Then, on to a LiveBinders collection of materials about the CCSS, with a suggestion from the article author to share these materials on a weekly basis to support other educators becoming familiar with CCSS. Stopping and exploring these resources reveals a wealth of information to digest and leverage, and it is worth every minute. In all, Troutner offers ten resources to peruse. A guide to these online tools would have been an useful article. Troutner takes it a step further by choosing implementations that are specific to the biggest educational concern today.

The Value of School Librarian Support in the Digital World

Engelbrecht, Shannon.


Ballew, L. (2014). THE VALUE OF SCHOOL LIBRARIAN SUPPORT IN THE DIGITAL WORLD. Knowledge Quest, 42(3), 64-68.

Summary: The author of this article, Linda M. Bellow, a journalism teacher and student journalism advisor at Great Falls High School in Montana, is speaking to high school librarians specifically about the staff and students’ need to master in-depth research skills as well as non-fiction writing in many electronic media formats, from Twitter to full research papers. She also concludes that high school librarians need to talk to their colleagues directly to ensure the services they are providing are the ones that their instructional patterns want and need.

Evaluation: This article is the most detailed I have seen so far in addressing the need for students to master research and writing skills across the range of electronic formats. Students are already using many electronic resources for research and writing. Bellows effectively argues that teacher librarians are uniquely positioned to train educators at their schools to master these skills and co-teach mastery to the students. This article also counsels teacher librarians to remember to make personal “face-to-face” connections with other educators in addition to the electronic communication to ensure they “discover what teachers and students really want and need.” This article is also going into my professional annual planning file.

Implementing the common core state standards: What is the school librarian’s role?

Engelbrecht, Shannon.


Uecker, R., Kelly, S., & Napierala, M. (2014). Implementing the Common Core State Standards. Knowledge Quest, 42(3), 48-51.

Summary: This article is a synthesis of an article by the engage NY team (www.engageny. org/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/common-core-shifts.pdf). The original article was written to give families a high level explanation of the changes the Common Core would make in their students education. The authors of the librarian focus article took the six shifts that the engage NY team defined, and applied them to the work of school librarians.

Evaluation: This is an excellent article that shows the influence of much of the school library best-practice research combined with the new demands of the common core. It is laid out a a guide to the six shifts in approach and action that position school librarians to best support teachers and students in mastering the new skills required by the common core state standards. It would also serve public librarians as a guide to children’s collections development and collaboration with teachers. This is one that I will be adding to my professional list of reference articles that I use to guide my annual planning for my libraries.

Lexile measures in the Common Core

Engelbrecht, Shannon.


Smith III, M., Schiano, A., & Lattanzio, E. (2014). BEYOND THE CLASSROOM. Knowledge Quest, 42(3), 20-29.

Summary: The article discusses and explains how the Lexile Framework supports the Common Core Standards demand that students learn to read and comprehend ever more complex texts. Appendix A of the Common Core calls for Lexile measurements of texts and readers to guide educators to challenge students on the “staircase of text complexity.”

Evaluation: The article gives a thorough explanation of the Lexile system, as well as how it relates to the Common Core. It indirectly addresses the critique of the inaccuracy of the Lexile system by noting at the end of the article that “no tool can replace the professional judgment of a teacher, parent, or librarian in helping students select books…” and that the system is “just an indicator.” In fact, all text assessment system are just indicators. The issue the authors should have addressed is the accuracy of their system compared to other systems.  Also, they should have noted any research that shows the efficacy of their system.