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Librarians now judged by test scores?

Politicians in Texas may not have ever seen a high-stakes test that they didn’t like. We’ve seen unreliable and invalid uses of high-stakes testing pervade Texas since George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind was birthed in Texas in the early 1990s. I am now hearing from Texas that districts are now attempting to tie librarians to student test scores.  The Dallas Independent School District’s new pay-for-performance plan now includes judging librarians by test scores!? Apparently, the DISD superintendent is now visiting schools for meet and greets with librarians and others. I received the following note from a DISD librarian.
I got the microphone and asked him how the LEI was going to address the fact that librarians have no regular classes.  He was very confused, and finally told me that it was his understanding LEI was NOT GOING FORWARD.  Then two days later, it was back on again.
Make no mistake, the important work of librarians absolutely cannot be statically tied to test scores in a valid or reliable way. This policy is or will be an incredible misuse of high-stakes testing. Here are some of the details of Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI) that will be purportedly be tied to librarians. Thanks to Ms. H, a librarian from Dallas ISD for this:
It comes as no great surprise that Dallas ISD’s pay-for-performance plan, also known as the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI), is a woefully flawed system. Highly qualified teachers must participate in a game of musical chairs in order to receive a pay raise, and there are, quite simply, not enough chairs to go around. Those teachers left standing when the music stops are leaving the district in droves. And what about the veteran teachers? They weren’t even invited to the dance! And yet, despite everything, the district insists on moving TEI forward.  As of last week, it is now the librarians who find themselves directly in the cross hairs with the rollout of the Librarian Excellence Initiative, or LEI. Yes.  Librarian evaluations will now be tied to student test scores despite the fact teachers are not required to bring classes to the library, and librarians are not teachers of record. With libraries being closed now more than ever, for testing and meetings, along with being used as classrooms, it is more than a little disturbing to realize that LEI in no way, shape or form accounts for any of these conditions, and librarians are feeling less than inclined to have evaluations tied to students they have NEVER SEEN. The LEI is ridiculously vague, as well.  Librarians are expected to, “Set the goals for the class.” Which class? We have 1800 students!!!!!!  This is ABSURD. But, really, the truth is that MERIT PAY IS RARELY ABOUT MERIT, right? This is a money grab, plain and clear, and it is the students who suffer. The STUDENTS. They are the collateral damage in a for-profit educational system.  The madness has to stop.    
Librarians are not staying quiet in the library. They have begun to organize to fight the test score driven Librarian Excellence Initiative. They have talked to various stakeholders and it is the “consensus of all parties that LEI is not going away.” Apparently, this is a continuation of past attacks on librarians in DISD.
The district attempted to fire librarians about 3 years ago, and then pulled back as a result of pushback from the public.
Why use test scores to understand the success and needed improvement in the important and good work that librarians do? Why not ask parents, students, and educators to provide data on efficacy of the services that are being provided in libraries to understand how this resource impacts the climate of the schools in DISD? Why not ask parents, students, and educators what resources that Dallas ISD libraries need to be more impactful. This second point would require two-way accountability— which policymakers and leaders are often not too fond of allowing.
Texas (also a verb).

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About Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig (698 Articles)
Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento.

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