LCAP and Meaninful School Library Stats

I recently witnessed how a school district is evaluated and scrutinized by the government. My takeaway from this experience was hugely revealing. I learned that if I can’t prove that my school library is meeting the student needs that have been identified in my district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), then my library has lost not only its purpose, but its funding as well!

If you’re wondering, “What the devil is FPM,” it’s basically an audit. The California Department of Education (CDE) Website insists that FPMs are not audits. They say, “…FPM is an overall determination of whether the local educational agency (LEA) is meeting statutory program and fiscal requirements for categorical programs.” Sounds like an audit to me.

Pre-FPM, I’d use circulation stats, class visits, and door count stats to prove how well-used my library was. Yet, my shared statistics had no real bite, no meaning. I could have been talking about puppies or rainbows and received the same type of response from admin. Now I (finally) understand why.

It’s NICE that students use the library and its resources. But it’s MEANINGFUL if students who use the library turn out to perform better. My usage reports must correlate with my school’s goals. My budget must support the student needs listed on the LCAP. My stats must verify that library usage will somehow help our school outperform last year’s percentages.

Here’s my new plan:

  1. Pull out the important stats from my schoo’s LCAP and list them in the first column of a spreadsheet.
  2. Generate reports that target these LCAP needs. How about a circulation report for my Spanish Collection? How about running a usage report for a specific database that supports an AP class? How about counting the number of database demonstrations I do for EL classes?
  3. It will probably turn out that the library is lacking resources to support some of the student needs listed on the LCAP. In this case, I will have a powerful argument for shifting or increasing the library’s budget to meet those needs.
  4. Since I will be carefully tracking the library’s usage in the LCAP areas, I would imagine that as my library usage increases, student performance will as well. These are the results I want to tout to admin.

While it’s true that additional, non-library variables contribute to students’ improved performance, I’m hopeful that some positive correlation or patterns will be revealed. At the very least, I will be focusing my energy on meeting my students’ needs. That can never be a bad thing.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the FPM at the district level. It taught me lots. For any other librarians who are new to the whole LCAP thing (like I was), request a copy of your district’s LCAP. Study that thing! You can learn more about California’s LCAP and Local Control Funding (LCF) information on the California Department of Education Website.

Consider joining me in making your school library stats more focused and meaningful this year!

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