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Ohio Public Libraries and Student Learning: Common Core & More

In 2010, Ohio's State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics, and revised its academic content standards in science and social studies. Together, these standards are known as Ohio's Learning Standards. The standards are intended to allow for all kinds of learners to become well-prepared for college and careers. The English Language Arts and Math standards are again being revised, for the 2017-2018 school year.

Along with the new standards, many additional changes in PreKindergarten-12th grade education have been implemented, including new student assessments, teacher evaluations, and school and district report cards. New Early Learning and Development Standards guide Ohio's early education system, and a Third Grade Reading Guarantee legislates that students be proficient in reading by the end of 3rd grade.

Public libraries can help students, parents, teachers, school librarians, and the community navigate the changes in Ohio's PreK-12 education system. Library staff in all areas, including adult services, teen and children's services, outreach, technical services, and administration, have a role to play. Use this site to get up to speed with basic definitions, explore helpful PreK-12 resources for public libraries, find out what other Ohio libraries are doing, and take action at your library.

What you can do

How to do all this? No doubt you are already doing much of it. The changes in education practice are significant, but libraries best serve students by doing what we have always done well: providing a literacy-rich, welcoming, positive environment for discovery and learning; modeling and sharing enjoyment in reading; and offering the broadest, strongest, and most available nonfiction and fiction collections.

Learn more about what you can do, including tips, examples, and resources to support all the strategies above.

Some basics

What is Common Core?
The Common Core State Standards (frequently referred to as Common Core or CCSS or CC) are a set of academic content standards for Kindergarten through 12th grade in math, English language arts, and literacy in the content areas (science and technical subjects, social studies/history). They are intended to provide, in a brief format, a clear understanding of the fundamental skills students are expected to learn. They allow these expectations to be consistent across states. They were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being implemented in most states in the USA.
Learn more: http://www.corestandards.org/

What are Ohio's Learning Standards?
Ohio's Learning Standards comprise the CCSS, plus revised state standards in science and social studies. The science and social studies standards are specific to Ohio. According to the Ohio Department of Education, under the new standards, "students will study only the most important and useful concepts within each subject, each year. They will drill much deeper into each area, learning to apply more knowledge and skills in the subject than ever before. The standards will help students see how different subjects like math, science and English language arts connect."
Learn more: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Ohio-s-New-Learning-Standards

What are Ohio's Early Learning and Development Standards?
Ohio's Early Learning and Development Standards describe key concepts and skills that young children develop during the birth-to-five-year period. Their purpose is to support the development and well-being of young children and to foster their learning. They cover five essential domains of development and school readiness: Social and Emotional Development, Physical Well-being and Motor Development, Approaches Toward Learning, Language and Literacy Development, and Cognition and General Knowledge.
Learn more: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Early-Learning/Early-Learning-Content-Standards

What is Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee?
Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee (TGRG) is a statewide program to identify students who are behind in reading from kindergarten through third grade. The TGRG requires that school districts and community schools use diagnostic assessments adopted by the State Board of Education to assess each student's reading skills at the beginning of kindergarten, first, second, and third grade, to identify students reading below grade level. Upon identification of a student as underperforming, the district or school must notify the student's parent and provide the student with intervention services, including a reading improvement and monitoring plan. Current law generally requires that Ohio students must demonstrate a certain level of reading competency before advancing to fourth grade. There are exceptions for students in specific circumstances.
Learn more: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Early-Learning/Third-Grade-Reading-Guarantee

What are Ohio's State Tests?
Ohio students are tested in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Testing dates and general information about all of Ohio's State Tests are available from the Ohio Department of Education. Ohio's State Tests Portal offers a Student Practice Site and resources for students and educators. Note that Ohio's biennial budget passed June 30, 2015 drops and de-funds the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) tests. The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is developing new statewide English language arts and math tests to be administered to students starting in the 2015-16 school year. The new math and English language arts tests will be shorter than those given last year, and will be offered during a single testing window. Learn about these recent changes to Ohio's State Tests on the Ohio Department of Education's State Test Updates page.
Learn more: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Testing

What does all of this mean for public libraries?

A large and growing literature exists about libraries and the Common Core, as well as general resources on the role of public libraries in student learning. The following is a starter pack for planning and self-paced learning.

Three-Minute Video Explaining the Common Core
A brief, clear, and entertaining introduction to Common Core from the Council of the Great City Schools.

Common Core State Standards Action Toolkit for Public Librarians
Public librarians, especially those who focus on youth services, are in a unique position to support children, parents, and educators during this time of educational transition. This toolkit was developed by a joint task force comprised of AASL, ALSC, and YALSA members to help public librarians learn more about CCSS and apply that knowledge to their practice.

Parents' Guides to Student Success
From the National PTA, these simple, clear, free guides include key items that children should be learning in English language arts and mathematics in each grade under Common Core. They also offer activities that parents can do to support their children's learning. The guides are available in English and Spanish, and in several formats. There is a guide for each grade from K-8, one for high school English, and one for high school math.

Public Libraries' Outreach Role in Reading and Support of Student Learning (PDF)
This document from the State Library of Ohio shows how public libraries benefit the K-12 community, and describes several initiatives by Ohio public libraries that support and contribute to student learning.

How Can Teachers and Librarians Partner to Support the Third Grade Guarantee? by Dr. Christina Dorr (PDF)
A succinct guide for teachers on how and why to partner with local library experts, including both media specialists and public youth librarians, this is part of the Ohio Resource Center's "Policy into Practice" series of briefs created to support the efforts of districts to achieve Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee and the Library Media Specialist (PDF)
In June 2013, the Ohio Educational Library Media Association (OELMA) published a white paper on the role of the library media specialist in implementation of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee (TGRG). This document is a helpful resource to communicate the centrality of the library media specialist in student reading success, and to generate for ideas for collaboration and support by public librarians.

Common Core State Standards - Resources
This collection from the School-Age Programs and Services Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) links to articles, blogs, websites, and supporting materials.

Webinars and Presentations:

Learning to Read the Core: A View from 30,000 Feet
This 13-minute webcast provides an excellent overview of the Common Core standards in math and literacy, how they are organized and why. A production of The Teaching Channel, this webcast is targeted to teachers but is accessible to and useful for public librarians. (Free registration required)

School Library Journal webcast series: On Common Core
Registration is required to view this free archive of three 1-hour webcasts on the Common Core. Part 1: On Common Core - Getting Real: Marc Aronson and Sue Bartle and Part 5: On Common Core: The Common Core and the Public Librarian are particularly recommended.

Common Core State Standards and Public Libraries
Part of the Infopeople series of free webinars for librarians, this one-hour recording covers many of the important basics: the general rationale behind the Common Core, some misconceptions and corrections, terminology, shifts in English Language Arts and literacy education, text complexity, and practical ideas for public library programs and services.

Public Libraries and the Common Core Curriculum: Resources
This one-hour webinar considers the Common Core focus on nonfiction in terms of library collection development and programming, and is also part of the Infopeople series of free webinars for librarians.

Education Update: Common Core State Standards for ELA and Literacy
This 14-minute video from The Teaching Channel explains the purpose and organization of the literacy standards, and discusses the emphasis on building college and career readiness. (Free registration required)


"A School and Public Librarian Find Common Ground on the Common Core" by Nina Lindsay and Olga Nesi in conversation, and moderated by Daryl Grabarek. School Library Journal, October 21, 2013.

"The Public Library Connection: The new standards require that public and school librarians pull together: On Common Core" by Olga Nesi. School Library Journal, December 1, 2012.

"For Libraries, the Common Core Presents Extraordinary Opportunity" by Andrew Albanese. Publisher's Weekly, February 5, 2013.

"The Common Core Ate My Baby and Other Urban Legends" by Timothy Shanahan. Educational Leadership, December 2012/January 2013. Volume 70, number 4.

Controversy has arisen surrounding the Common Core. Here are two viewpoints from education professionals who do not support the Common Core:
"The Common Core: A Disaster for Libraries, A Disaster for Language Arts, a Disaster for American Education" by Stephen D. Krashen. Knowledge Quest 42(3): 37-45 (2014) (republished on Krashen's blog), and see also Krashen's earlier essay, "The Common Core: Bad for Libraries, Librarians, and Students" by Stephen D. Krashen. Schools Matter (blog), September 15, 2012.
"Common Core: Will It Hurt Struggling Readers?" by Valerie Strauss. The Washington Post Answer Sheet (blog), March 14, 2013.

Some Ohio public library responses

Here are several programs and initiatives taking place in Ohio libraries to support student learning. Email Ohio Ready to Read to add your program to this showcase.

Athens County Public Library:
The library has increased its partnership activities with the public schools' preschool programs, including monthly visits to all five school districts' preschool classes. The library provides a storytime and sends home a bookmark-style handout describing various library services. At one building that houses seven classrooms but no library, the ACPL is bringing in library books and a laptop, registered all the students for library cards, and is circulating books directly to the students. These activities support literacy-rich environments for young learners, and encourage library use by families.
Contact: Amy King
Download samples of the preschool handouts on: library collections, library programs, storytimes, summer activities, Saturday hours, the children's area, library branches, and reading aloud. (each is a 240KB PDF file)

Grafton-Midview Public Library:
The library offers a "Kindergarten Kick-Off" annually in April for children who will be attending kindergarten that fall. The library created a screening instrument based on the KRA-L and covering basic contact information, colors, shapes, letter and number recognition, rhyming, comprehension, letter sounds, and representing numbers with tokens. The program is held at 4-5 local preschools, and screenings are available at the library by appointment. This program is done in conjunction with a Literacy Awareness Night for parents, caregivers, and other interested adults. The Literacy Awareness Night includes ECRR2 training, presentations by local educators, and a preview of the screening so parents know what to expect. The library gives a book to every child that participates in the screening. The screening is not a placement tool. The goal is to help parents and caregivers take the time before kindergarten to examine what areas need a bit of a boost. Preschool teachers welcome the program back year after year and have told the library it is helpful to them as well.
Contact: Katie Cooley Holahan
Download the Literacy Awareness Night parent presentation (PowerPoint, 107KB) and the screening instrument (MS Word). The library uses a kit of supplies with the screening, including flash cards, puzzle pieces with letters of the alphabet, and tokens to help with number activities.

Guernsey County District Public Library:
Two local school districts and the public library applied as a consortium and were awarded an Ohio Department of Education Early Literacy and Reading Readiness Competitive Grant, a grant program offered in 2013 to help schools meet the requirements of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The grant project, G.R.R.E.A.T. (Guaranteeing Reading Readiness through Early literacy Activities and Technology), will provide parent and student activities, professional development, resources, classroom books, and literacy materials at local schools and preschools.
Contact: Donna King
Download the G.R.R.E.A.T. Information Sheet (MS Word).

Madison Public Library:
The "Are You SURE This is a Bookclub?" program for 4 years old - 3rd grade incorporates science, technology, physical activity, and reading and discussing informational texts. Participants read a thematic non-fiction book that will have to do with the book club's activities for the month. The first two program themes included "Angry Birds" (participants read books about birds, shared cool bird facts, played Angry Birds on the iPad, and learned about kinetic and potential energy as they knocked down "angry birds" by throwing balls at stacks of plastic cups), and "Cut the Rope" (participants read books about "animals that swing", shared their cool animal facts, played Cut the Rope on the iPad, and learned about momentum by swinging a pendulum to knock over weighted water bottles). Madison Public Library recently received a $2000 Target education grant to purchase program materials.
Contact: Melanie Lyttle

Medina County District Library:
Brunswick Library collaborates with schools, churches and other community groups on a program called Brunswick R.O.C.K.S. (Reading Opportunities Create Kindergarten Success), which targets families with children entering kindergarten. Children and parents attend three sessions over the summer. Classroom teachers present activities that the children and parents can do together at home. Library staff members then provide a storytime for the preschoolers while the parents hear presentations on subjects including nutrition, literacy at home, and what parents may expect when their child enters school. The annual program wraps up with a big Literacy Fair at the library.
Contact: the Brunswick R.O.C.K.S. team
Download an overview of Brunswick R.O.C.K.S. which includes detailed program content, results of pre- and post-assessments of the participating children's skills, excerpts from parent surveys, budget information, and photos. (PowerPoint, 1 MB).

Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County:
Local schools are adopting the Fontas and Pinnell guided reading intervention system. The finding aids available to teachers do not include many of the books found in the library or are cumbersome to use, so the library is creating and keeping updated a list of Guided Reading Leveled books available in the library collection. The library has also purchased the Fontas and Pinnell book Matching Books to Readers. Teachers, students, and parents can now find books at the public library that meet the needs of students receiving intervention in reading. The library has also shared with teachers that doing a keyword search for the phrase "guided reading" in Search Ohio will bring titles that have been leveled and are available through the consortium. These tools all help in discovery of library books and provide support for schools and students under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
Contact: Jo Nolfi

Washington-Centerville Public Library:
In fall 2012, the library's local school district provided the library with a list of titles that they plan to use in their curriculum under Ohio's New Learning Standards. The library then purchased multiple copies of the materials, especially those not already owned. The library added a local subject heading to its bibliographic records that identifies the materials as "Common Core Exemplary Text" and the appropriate grade level as identified by the school. This makes the material easier for teachers and families to locate in the library catalog.
Contact: Kristi Hale

For more information about public libraries and student learning, contact:

Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Library Consultant, State Library of Ohio: jdwyer@library.ohio.gov or 614-644-6910