Remember when Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House? How about when the Colts won the Super Bowl or when the Dixie Chicks had the album of the year? If you dimly remember these events, then you may be surprised to hear that these events all occurred in 2007, the year AASL’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner made their debut. The Standards were soon followed by Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs in 2009, the professional guidelines that reflected and galvanized school librarians’ move forward. In the ensuing decade, Empowering Learners has become a cornerstone of many school librarians’ practice. Because our profession tracks and embraces change, we’re renovating our Standards and Guidelines to ensure that we’re working from a playbook for dynamic, exciting learning leadership.
We’re not tossing out our beloved current Standards and Guidelines; we’re making measured, informed decisions about where and how to update what we have. In September 2015, the AASL began a multi-layered survey, data, and research process to revise and remodel its learning standards and program guidelines for the profession. Led by the AASL Standards & Guidelines Editorial Board, the first phase of research involved an online survey to assess attitudes and perceptions about the current documents, including content, usability, and implementation assistance. We developed an infographic to illustrate several interesting high-level findings from the online survey with AASL membership and the profession.
The Editorial Board used findings from the online survey to determine key areas for subsequent focus group discussion. In November 2015, at the AASL National Conference, 40 attendees participated in six focus groups dedicated to standards and guidelines. Throughout spring 2016, AASL will hold 14 additional focus groups at seven state affiliate conferences, including Alaska, California, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Analysis of the focus groups findings has already begun. However, a full analysis will take place this summer and we’ll share a summary of findings with members and the profession in the fall.
Our goal is to involve as many voices as possible in the information-gathering phases to ensure a wide range of perspectives within the school librarian community are heard. More information about the standards revision and remodeling process can be found at Your Voice, Your Standards.