Saturday, January 30, 2010
Evaluating for Authorisation - Rant!
Our school is in the midst of being authorised by the IBO. This is fairly stringent evaluation of the programs and curriculum being run by the school to ensure it is meeting the IBO standards. It is pretty thorough in all areas except two - Library and Digital literacies. I am going to focus on the Library aspect in this post, but I think alot of what happens there also relates to the ICT and digital literacies evaluation.
As authorisation approaches I am handed papers to fill out to find out what the collection is comprised of - the list goes like this; Fiction, Non Fiction, Reference, CD ROMS, in language A (english for us) and Language B (Chinese). And then a question : What are the library / resources centre loan arrangements?. That is it. That is the paperwork for authorisation for the library for the PYP. For the MYP it was pretty much the same - asking about numbers on the collection citing outdated technology and access policy for the students. The actual interview was conducted by someone who had very little idea on what he was looking for to see if the library was supporting the program. The questions he asked were so superficial, and just not really trying to find out what the guts of what I do are. (I lay this problem at the feet of the IBO not the interveiwer) (I will not go into detail how I had a 35 minute interview time slot that was shared with the digital literacies co-ordinator..). I am feeling somewhat insulted that more attention is not paid to how the library is supporting learning in practical and meaningful ways beyond collection development and borrowing rules.
This got me thinking - if I was in charge of finding out if a school library was a good one, what would I be asking to see and be explained.... the following is what I have come up with. They are in order of how they spilled from my brain ...
I would examine :
1. the collection development policy, discuss with the TL how the resources are selected, and if there are challenges - what happens. I would also ask about censorship.
2. the diary of the librarian / teacher librarian to see what has been and is being scheduled in regard to collaborative teaching, flexible or fixed scheduling.
3. The information literacy policy and discuss how it translates into real learning experiences.
4. the plan for the library - term, yearly and long term.
5. the annual report from the previous years.
6. the online resources available and how the are marketed in the school - also see the usage statistics for the previous months and year.
7. Borrowing statistics, and trends.
8. The OPAC - how easy is it for users, what features does it have. How are the records?
9. The role description of the L/TL - discuss what is happening in reality.
10.The credentials of the librarian / Teacher librarian - where they were trained, how long ago, current professional development, personal learning network.
11. What extra programs does the library offer - author visits, book week - how are these rationalised amd supported and how do they support the school and library mission statement?
12. The types of resources on offer - age, condition, variety, internationalism, languages, currency, appropriatness, - does it include visual, audio, print, electronic, digital, online?
13. The library mission statement and philosophy.
14. The budget and how it is being spent.
15. Minutes of library staff meetings.
16. Policy and procedures manual.
I would interview
1. other teachers about the library and how it supports them and the curriculum.
2. students about their feelings about the library, what they like about it.
3. The L/TL and let them tell me what they do best. Ask them about what else they do in the school. What would they like to see happen in the library if they had unlimited money and staff? What are the problems / barriers they encounter?
4. The Principal and ask them what is going on with the library programme. How does he/she support the program?
I would observe
1. The lunchtime crowd - what are they doing?
2. How the library is organised - easy to find resources? displays? signage? posters? noticeboards? How is the collection organised, discuss how independent the students are in locating their requirements? Height of the shelves, disabled access etc Access to the resources including library hours & borrowing.
3. ICT in the library - who is using it, and how?
4. How the Library staff reacts/works with the students.
5, How the Library staff reacts / works with other school staff.
Am I being too tough? I think all of this would take about 90 minutes and give a fairly good overview of the library and how well it is being used in the school. It is a huge facility in the school, a good library has shown to improve student learning, so why are the evaluations so superficial and conducted by people who have no idea - or not given an idea of the standards that should be there and questions that need to be asked?
Is there anything I missed that should be included? How can we improve the standard and authorisation process so we are not passed over by such a superficial and outdated inquest?