multi-colored post-its on a wall

Everyday Advocacy: Data and Action Research

May 2016

Gear up for next year’s action research projects by digging into your data now!

Action research is a powerful way to link your work in the school library to the goals, passions, and projects that your stakeholders hold dear. It’s as simple as identifying a problem or a need in your school community and using the library’s resources to address it.

Start by playing with the reports in your library management system and cross-reference them with student performance data. Are there any grade levels with low circulation? Any particular students who don’t check out books as often? Compare that data to those students’ test scores. Consider supporting those students in the upcoming school year. Get to know them and consider purchasing items for your collection or tweaking your lesson plans to address some of their needs directly.

Is your school reviewing data to set academic goals and focus points for next year? Pay attention to those data points now, and begin to plan ways to address them with library instruction, resources, programs, and edTech professional development for teachers.

Pro-Tip: These projects work best when you focus on a small group of students. Consider selecting a particular department or grade-level team to collaborate with on lessons and coordinate strategy.

Track your methods, the process, and data points for the duration of the project. Once the research and the project are complete, show your work!

  • Go to a grade-level or departmental meeting and let teachers know what work you’ve done to improve the selected students’ performance measures. Focus on how much student measures improved in comparison to the previous year’s growth—when they weren’t on your radar.
  • Take your data to the principal during your performance review or include it in your monthly, quarterly, or yearly report!
  • Use Piktochart to create reader-friendly infographics for sharing the good news with the appropriate stakeholders.
  • Send those infographics home in your target students’ report cards.

Using data to guide library instruction and programming is best practice. Additionally, action research helps to center the librarian as an integral part of the school instructional team and enhances the transformational power of libraries. There are so many opportunities to advocate for ourselves just waiting for us in the data.

Happy hunting!


Everyday Advocacy” is a column I wrote in 2016 for DC Public Schools. The column was a part of the district librarians’ monthly newsletter update.

Reviewing this article as a part of my portfolio update reminded me that I’ve written case studies before: primarily for school library services and library collections. If you want me to dig into the data to tell your company’s success stories, let’s talk about how we can sell to your big customers with hard evidence!

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