The TExES School Librarian Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine whether or not an individual has the skills necessary to be a school librarian in the Texas public school system. This exam assesses an individual’s program management, leadership, and communications skills as well as the individual’s knowledge of the information sciences, technology, and methods essential for efficient information use. This exam is required in order to become a certified school librarian within the state of Texas. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that are related to the following areas:
- Teaching, Learning, and the School Library Environment (25%)
- Program Management, Leadership, and Connections to the Community (30%)
- Librarianship, Information Science, and Technology (45%)
The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam will be scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The registration fee for the School Librarian Exam is $131 and the exam is offered in a computer-based format. However, there may be other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become certified as an entry-level school librarian within the Texas public school system.
Sample Study Notes
1. Discuss the vision and mission of school librarians.
In the twenty-first century, librarians are media specialists whose responsibility is to help students learn to read and appreciate the variety and volume of information available in all types of resource material. When students hone their reading and comprehension skills, they grow into critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers. Enhancing their background knowledge means they are better informed about their community and the world beyond their own backyard. They learn to understand diversity and how to function in an environment that demands acceptance of different ethnic, cultural, economic, and gender groups. There are many ways for librarians to help students accomplish these important goals:
- Provide access to material in many formats: fiction, non-fiction and reference books, CDs, videos, newspapers, Internet access, etc.
- Stimulate interest in reading, watching, listening and integrating new information and ideas.
- Work with teachers to plan, teach and evaluate various resources so that all students have engaging learning experiences.
- Be a leader in designing and implementing strategies to involve the community in the education of the next generation.
2. Discuss the values that librarians should strive to impart to students.
According to the Texas State Library and Archive Commission, the core values librarians should strive to impart are:
- ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT: provide a quality program that helps students learn
- ACCESS FOR ALL: equitable and universal access by everyone in the school community
- READING: encourage students to read, watch and listen for understanding and pleasure; create an environment that supports a passion for learning
- LIFELONG LEARNING: teach students how to learn; give them the skills to become confident, independent, contributing members of society
- TECHNOLOGY: teach students how to use technology; explain the benefits and the risks; make sure they understand how to evaluate the data found on the World Wide Web
- INFORMATION LITERACY: teach students how to access data efficiently and effectively; help them learn to separate fact from fiction and utilize information appropriately
- INNOVATION: investigate, initiate and implement positive ideas that help prepare students for life after their formal education is complete
- INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM: promote, develop and facilitate age-appropriate access to a wide variety of knowledge, opinion and intellectual activity
3. Discuss intellectual freedom and its importance in an educational environment.
The American Library Association defines intellectual freedom as “the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause, or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.” If one of the main responsibilities of education is to teach students to be critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers, they must be exposed to a variety of thoughts and opinions on whatever topic they are studying. If they are not allowed to explore all sides of an issue, they will be at an enormous disadvantage, and their conclusions will be based on incomplete and/or biased information. America is defined by its acceptance of intellectual freedom. There is no restriction on having and expressing thoughts and ideas. Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas said, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights of free speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
4. Discuss censorship and its relationship to intellectual freedom.
The American Library Association defines censorship as “the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons – individuals, groups or government officials – find objectionable or dangerous.” Censors try to use the power of the state to restrict what other people can watch (films, television, theater), read (books, magazines), listen to (music) and look at (paintings, sculptures). They believe they know what is offensive and objectionable, and feel a moral obligation to protect others. Censors do not believe the average citizen is capable of making up his own mind about what is inappropriate, dangerous or unsuitable. Censorship in any form is a direct assault on intellectual freedom because intellectual freedom is “the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.” The First Amendment protects that right even if someone disagrees with and opposes the ideas expressed. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas summed it up this way, “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”
5. Briefly explain the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.
The American Library Association “affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas” and believes they should embrace these basic policies:
- Resources should be interesting, informative and enlightening. Material should not be excluded because of the “origin, background or views” of those who wrote it or collaborated in its creation.
- Material that represents all points of view should be provided. Resources should not be removed or avoided because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”
- Challenge censorship in all its forms.
- Cooperate with any entity that works to prevent the obstruction of “free expression and free access to ideas.”
- Do not deny access to the library’s resources because of “origin, age, background or views.”
- If space is available for the public’s use, it should be open to all on an “equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.”
6. Discuss ways librarians exhibit leadership and management skills.
The librarian should be a leader in developing the objectives of the library and defining the strategies to achieve them. It is imperative that sound, sensible policies are written, explained and implemented in such a way that all members of the academic community benefit by the available resources. The librarian is responsible for hiring and training the staff, and ensuring that they have the proper credentials to offer the support students and teachers deserve. The librarian should recruit volunteers and encourage their participation in the activities of the library. It is vital for the librarian to secure funding so that his program can offer an eclectic choice of resources and services. One of the goals should be to provide the resources the academic community needs to be fully engaged with technological advances. But the best-stocked and most efficient library won’t fulfill its mission unless people know about its wonderful resources. The librarian must promote the program by explaining what services and resources are available and by encouraging their use.
7. Discuss the importance of effective communication with the community.
The school district does not exist in a vacuum. It is a vital part of the community in which it operates and is subject to the same social and economic influences as its neighbors. Teachers, administrators, support staff and students are all impacted by activities in the surrounding area. Schools are not isolated islands of learning; they are an integral part of the community. As such, they can have a critical role in shaping the attitudes of its neighbors and be a force in creating a positive atmosphere for everyone. Studies have shown (and anecdotal evidence proves) that when the school district is successful communicating its goals and is seen actively addressing its problems, there is greater support from business and community leaders, and parents are more involved – a win-win for all. But the most important result of good community relations is a better education for all students and more opportunities for them to succeed in the real world, which should be the ultimate goal of every superintendent.
8. Define diversity and discuss its impact on education.
Diversity is the fact or quality of having distinct characteristics. When used to describe a society, diversity means the cultural differences found within the language, dress, arts, and traditions of the aggregate group. There are differences in how individual groups are organized, their understanding of morality, and the ways in which each group interacts both inside and outside their circle. Members of an ethnic group usually identify with a shared ancestry and are frequently bound by a common language, cultural heritage, religious belief system, and behavior patterns. When students are taught to appreciate diversity, it enables them to function more effectively in a complex, multicultural society. They learn to respect the historical experiences of every cultural group and understand how past actions affect present circumstances. Studying the impact of all cultures greatly enhances students’ ability to get along with different racial, ethnic and gender groups. America may be a melting pot, but that pot contains the hopes, dreams, history and struggles of many ethnic groups.
9. Discuss the importance of problem-solving and decision-making.
To be an effective leader, one must be able to make decisions and solve problems; the two characteristics are closely related. Both require creativity, the ability to identify issues and options, and the ability to effectively implement solutions. A leader must choose issues carefully, set attainable objectives, develop workable solutions and enlist the support of those involved in and affected by the change. Whatever decision-making process is used, an effective leader always considers the reason for the change, how people will be affected, and the probable consequences of the action. A sound, logical, well-defined decision-making process leads to effective problem solving. Here are suggested steps to finding a sensible solution to most any problem:
- Define the problem.
- Gather relevant facts.
- List options.
- Develop solutions and consider the pros and cons of each.
- Select the most viable solution(s).
- Explain the choice(s) to those affected.
- Follow-up to determine effectiveness.
- Make adjustments if necessary.
10. Discuss technology in an educational environment.
Technology is a powerful tool for expanding instructional approaches and enriching the learning experience. It is an integral part of today’s world and schools have a duty to instruct students not only in the uses of technology, but in the benefits and risks as well. The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory believes “Technology is transforming society, and schools do not have a choice as to whether they will incorporate technology. The choice is rather how well they will use it to enhance learning.” The key to successfully integrating technology in the educational environment is creating a realistic plan based on existing learning styles, teaching styles, and the expectations of the users. The users should be involved in developing the plan, so issues are addressed before purchases are made. It is important for teachers to be trained in its use and encouraged to adapt the technology to their unique teaching styles. It is critical that after the technology is in place, on-site assistance is readily available. If operational issues can’t be addressed quickly, teachers will stop using the technology and return to familiar methods.