Summary of legislation from Congress.gov: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1177
What have we done?
- A formal letter and appeal to be included as stakeholders on our state's ESSA Implementation Planning committee was sent in August to the Commissioner of Education at DESE. As the only statewide association for school librarians, we believe that our understanding of how effective school libraries positively influence student achievement is a vital - but currently missing - voice in the stakeholder engagement process.
- We received notice that we will be considered stakeholders in the Implementation planning process.
- We are currently preparing recommendations to bring to the table for the Implementation Planning committee.
Here are some key points about the legislation itself:
- ESSA includes new provisions that authorize – but do not require – school districts to include in their local plans how they will assist schools in developing effective school library programs to provide students an opportunity to develop digital literacy skills and improve academic achievement.
- ESSA includes new provisions that authorize States, as well as school districts, to use grant and subgrant funds for “supporting the instructional services provided by effective school library programs.”
- ESSA specifically authorizes school librarians to participate in required grant activities for both K-5 and 6-12
- ESSA allows all local subgrants to be used to provide teachers and school librarians time to meet, plan, and collaborate on comprehensive literacy instruction.
- ESSA specifically authorizes funds to be used for developing and enhancing effective school library programs, to include funding for professional development, books, and up-to-date materials for high needs students.
- ESSA authorizes - but does not require - States to use funds to assist school districts in providing programs and activities that increase access to personalized, rigorous learning experiences supported by technology, including adequate “access to school libraries.”
- ESSA also authorizes - but does not require - States to use funds to assist school districts in providing school librarians and other school personnel with the knowledge and skills to use technology effectively, including effective integration of technology, to improve instruction and student achievement.
- In addition, ESSA requires that school districts conduct a “needs assessment” prior to receiving funds from the State (conducted every 3 years). The needs assessment should include access to personalized learning experiences (which may include access to school libraries).
The AASL ESSA website has a lot of resources and information that will help school librarians advocate effectively in their own districts, be sure to look at the resources and begin crafting your elevator speeches about an effective school library.
Although the ESSA legislation refers to an effective school library, it does not offer a definition for administrators. AASL has created the definition:
AASL supports the position that an effective school library program has a certified school librarian at the helm, provides personalized learning environments, and offers equitable access to resources to ensure a well-rounded education for every student.
Other position statements surrounding the legislation can also be found on the AASL website:
MSLA will continue to inform members about the progress of the legislation and the Massachusetts DESE ESSA Implementation planning committee.