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11 July 2015 @ 08:43 am
Another side effect  
You know the commercials as well as I do. The camera opens on a lovely scene, outdoorsy. It pans across some backlit individuals enjoying nature. A voice over announces some new drug that we should request from our doctor to treat some sort of illness, infection, disease, condition. And then, the side effects. If you listen carefully, you have to wonder why you would even consider taking said drug. Steve Martin had a take on side effects years ago. You can read his piece here: http://www.dr-bob.org/babble/social/20060324/msgs/626555.html.

But my goal today was not just to make you smile. There are other side effects: the side effects of testing. You have read about many of them, I am sure. However, here is one that I think has somehow gone largely unnoticed or at least uncommented upon: the side effects of testing on the school library and school librarian. This article is a place to begin: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/fl-school-libraries-testing-centers-20150709-story.html.

If school libraries are closed for 40 out of 180 days, that means about 20% of the time the library is inaccessible to students and staff. And if the school librarian is being used as a test monitor, then he or she is also inaccessible more than 20% of the time. How can literacy develop in this situation? If we wish to bring about a community of readers, develop a culture of literacy in the school, but we cannot do that due to testing taking up 20% of the time for the library and librarian, will we ever be able to accomplish our goals fully? And, of course, this does not take into account other times the library is closed: meetings, inventory, etc.

Access to books and other reading material is critical. Yet, we do not blink when it comes to closing the one place ALL students can access materials. That speaks more loudly than any policy.

This article reports on only one district. I wonder what statistics we would find if we did this on a national scale? Or if every state required reporting the number of days the library was inaccessible due to testing? Perhaps it is time for some shaming?
 
 
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