Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy Trails to You!

*Today's post was written by Marcia Amason, one of the librarians at Shades Valley High School/JCIB. 

As librarians it is part of our job to make sure that students are equipped with the skills to research, evaluate, gather, communicate, and manage information.   Even though we spend much time teaching these necessary skills, we are not always aware if our students have mastered them or not.  So, when I read an article by Patricia L. Owen in the May/June 2010 issue of Library Media Connection about the assessment tool, Trails-9, I was delighted to find there is a valuable tool that provides precise evidence of student learning and achievement of information literacy skills.

TRAILS – 9 (Tools for Real-Time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) is a standards-driven information literacy test based on 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th grade standards and provides evidence of student learning of the information literacy skills. The assessment items are based on Ohio Academic Content Standards and the American Association of School Librarians' Information Power and Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. It is available free online and easy to access.  You can set up as many test sessions as needed and all student scores are password protected.   

“Why do Trails?
First, TRAILS-9 quickly captures a large amount of information about student learning.  By including questions in five areas of information literacy skills, you can get a thorough picture of student skill weaknesses and strengths.  Second, TRAILS-9 can be used for pre- and post-testing of students such as measuring differences in student learning from freshman year to graduation.  Third, the report module in TRAILS-9 provides easy access to student scores, both individually and as a group” (Owen 36).

At our school we are now using TRAILS with our Freshman Studies 9th grade classes.   Through the test results, which are generated in graph form, we are able to easily assess student learning, revise our information literacy instruction, and produce evidence of our library’s impact on student achievement. 

The website is

Remember, it is FREE!

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