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Assessing to Empower Learners

How Can We Use Assessment Data? [3:22]
  • Learn why it is important to pay attention to the continuum of the development of skills to know how best to spend your energy.
  • Learn to recognize student performance and make sure that you're using assessment to have an impact on the whole grade/school.
  • Learn how to align the library program, teaching of skills, and the assessment with the school's mission and priorities.
  • Learn to use assessment with the whole school perspective as an advocacy tool.

We have a big responsibility as librarians to assess individual student skill development throughout the process of learning. We're assessing information fluency, but we define it broadly to include literacy, technology, critical and creative thinking, and evaluation and use of information. We have some guidelines that we can follow that will help us when we're developing these assessments.

First of all, we need to pay attention to the continuum of the development of skills. In my high school, we developed a matrix of exactly what we wanted to spend our energy on with all the students at ninth grade, tenth grade, eleventh grade, twelfth grade. We were sure what the continuum was.

The second thing is to know what it looks like when our students do a good job. If you're asking them to do an on-the-spot report, be sure that you're in sync with the classroom teacher about what you expect to see in a high quality on-the-spot report.

Then I would recommend that you move to student self-assessment. Now, we've talked a lot about assessing individual student performance, so let's turn to our other role as librarians and that's using assessment as instructional leaders for the whole school. We, unlike if you're in an individual classroom, have the opportunity to develop that whole school perspective. But that also comes with responsibility. We have to align the library program, the teaching of the skills, and the assessment with the school mission and priorities.

You need to analyze student performance in the aggregate. At some point, you have to rise above the individual student performance and make sure that you're having an impact on the whole second grade or the whole school. If you're not, then change the continuum or change the collaboration with classroom teachers to be sure you start having that impact. We can use assessment at that meta-level to enable teachers to re-envision their teaching and actually integrate more of the information skills into their classrooms.

And, finally, we need to use assessment with the whole school perspective as an advocacy tool. We need to tell the story of learning through the library. One of my most glorious moments was working with a young second grader, I think, or maybe first grader, who was proclaiming how much he knew about presidents because he had read every book in the library. He said, "You can ask me anything about American presidents. I'm an expert."

Well, that's what we want for all of our students, and we can use assessment to make sure that all of our students are experts, have the confidence in themselves, and that others understand the story of learning through the library.

Assessment Data and Advocacy

In this lesson, Dr. Stripling points out that the importance of a librarian's role in analyzing student performance in the aggregate, in part as an advocacy vehicle for emphasizing the necessity of library programming to student learning. Deborah Rinio shares some techniques for translating data into effective advocacy messages in her article, "Using Research & Data to Improve Advocacy." After reading, complete the reflection activity below.




After reading "Using Resource & Data to Improve Advocacy," reflect on how you could apply these techniques to your setting, using the chart in the workshop packet to guide you.

MLA Citation

"Assessing to Empower Learners: Assessment Data and Advocacy." School Library Connection, November 2019,

Entry ID: 2228091

About the Author

Barbara K. Stripling, DPS, is recently retired from a long career in the library profession, including positions as Director of Library Services for the New York City schools, a school library media specialist and school district director of libraries in Arkansas, a library grant program director in Tennessee, and Senior Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Practice in the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University. Barb has written or edited numerous books and articles and is the creator of the Stripling Model of Inquiry. Stripling has recently developed and published (in April 2019) a re-imagined version of the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum, a PK-12 continuum of the skills that librarians teach to empower students to be lifelong learners ( Stripling has served the profession as president of the American Association of School Librarians (1986-1987), president of the New York Library Association (2016-2017), president of the American Library Association (2013-2014), and current president of the Freedom to Read Foundation (2020-). Email:, Twitter: @barbstripling, LinkedIn: barbarastripling

MLA Citation

Stripling, Barbara K. "Assessing to Empower Learners. How Can We Use Assessment Data? [3:22]." School Library Connection, ABC-CLIO, November 2019,

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Entry ID: 2228084