ESSA and New Jersey School Libraries

In late 2015 the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed by Congress and approved by President Obama.  This act updates the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that was last reauthorized in 2001 under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  ESSA includes specific references to “effective school library programs” and “school librarians.”  The legislation provides resources to:

  • Develop effective school library programs to provide students an opportunity to develop digital literacy skills and improve academic achievement.
  • Provide professional development to support instructional services provided by effective school library programs and develop, administer, and evaluate high-quality comprehensive literacy instruction initiatives.
  • Provide time for teachers (and other literacy staff, as appropriate, such as school librarians or specialized support personnel) to meet to plan comprehensive literacy instruction
  • Promote literacy programs in low income communities.  May include providing professional development for school librarians, books and up-to-date materials to high need schools
  • Block grants can be made available to increase “access to school libraries” and provide training to “use technology effectively, including effective integration of technology, to improve instruction and student achievement
    (American Library Association, 2015)

NJLA and NJASL are currently working on advocating for school libraries, leveraging the findings and research from the NJ School Library Programs Report and developing a course of action to increase support for school library programs and the teaching of information literacy in New Jersey Statutes and New Jersey Administrative Code.  More information will be available in the coming weeks.