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February 02, 2010

Table of Contents

ITI Cross Links: Gale Reaches for More End Users With Questia Acquisition
Discovery Education, 3M Announce 12th Annual Young Scientist Challenge
PBS Seeks Entries for PBS Teachers Innovation Awards
Free Resources: Gale Cengage's Latest—for Black History Month
Archipelago Releases Study Island Version 3.0
Califone International Launches the Spirit SD Multimedia Player/Recorder
Time To Know Launches One-to-One Curriculum System
SIIA, JDL Horizons Launch the Vision K-20 Video Portal
Florida Virtual Partners with Blackboard to Improve Virtual School Experience for Its Students
Epson Introduces BrightLink 450Wi Interactive Projector
Epson Announces the PowerLite 83V+ Projector
Brainchild Achiever! Now Offers Test Questions and Tutorials in Spanish
Facts On File Announces Launch of Writer’s Reference Center
Learning A-Z, Language Technologies Offer PreK-6 Reading Education Materials via iTunes App Store
AASL Votes to Adopt the Professional Title 'School Librarian'

ITI Cross Links: Gale Reaches for More End Users With Questia Acquisition

As the headline implies, Gale Cengage has acquired Questia Media, Inc. and its quesia.com and questiaschool.com products. The announcement was made late last week, and Information Today, Inc.'s news editor, Paula Hane, spoke with execs and Gale and Questia, plus with analysts and others, to quickly put together a NewsLink Spotlight story on the subject. From her story:

In December 2008, Gale (www.gale.com/), a part of Cengage Learning (www.cengage.com), acquired the HighBeam Library and Encyclopedia.com, thus expanding its userbase beyond libraries to general web users (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/Gale-Acquires-HighBeam-Research-to-Connect-With-End-Users-51979.asp). At the time, John Barnes, executive vice president, strategic marketing and business development of Gale, said, "A central element of Gale's market strategy is to connect more closely with end-users of information, whether they are in a library, classroom, or on the web." Gale is continuing down this path in its just announced acquisition of Questia Media, Inc., a provider of information and educational resources to high school and college students through its Questia.com and QuestiaSchool.com products. Questia provides an affordable premium subscription service that gives users access to more than 76,000 books from 300-plus publishers in the humanities and social sciences, plus about 3 million articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers. The companies see considerable potential for the combination of their resources and tools.

Click HERE to link to Paula's full story, "Gale Reaches for More End Users With Questia Acquisition," on Information Today, Inc.'s NewBreaks site.

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Discovery Education, 3M Announce 12th Annual Young Scientist Challenge

Discovery Education and 3M have announced the 2010 call for entries for the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, a national science competition for students in grades 5 through 8. Ten finalists will be selected to receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to compete in the final challenge in October. The winner will receive $50,000 in U.S. savings bonds ($25,000 cash value), a tour of 3M's Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn., given by some of today's top scientists, and the title of "America's Top Young Scientist."


Research shows that science test scores start to drop in middle school when interest in science begins to wane. In an effort to foster the development of our nation's next generation of scientists, Discovery Education and 3M have teamed up again to reward students for their science acumen and curiosity, while encouraging them to share that passion by creatively communicating their findings through this national science competition.

Middle school students residing in the United States are asked to create a one- to two-minute video communicating the science behind a possible solution for one of the following safety and security issues that are present in everyday life:

- Preventing the spread of germs/diseases

- Food safety

- Sun protection

- Wind resistant structures

Evaluated by a panel of judges, all video entries for the 2010 science competition will be accessed on the basis of creativity, persuasiveness, classroom suitability, and overall presentation. Videos will not be evaluated on production skills and may be recorded on cell phones or simple digital cameras. All video entries must be submitted online at www.youngscientistchallenge.com no later than May 27, 2010.

For more information on the 12th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, including submission guidelines and examples of entry videos, go to www.youngscientistchallenge.com/.

Source: Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com

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PBS Seeks Entries for PBS Teachers Innovation Awards

PBS and its local stations are calling on preK-12 educators to enter the PBS Teachers Innovation Awards program by March 12.

PreK-12 educators of all levels, including classroom teachers, library media specialists, and homeschooling parents, can enter the PBS Teachers Innovation Awards program. To enter, teachers must submit a 200-word essay demonstrating why they are innovative educators, and include a video or photograph showing how they inspire students. A panel of PBS TeacherLine course facilitators, expert teachers with years of classroom teaching experience and who've earned master's degrees in education, will evaluate the entries. Fifty winners will be selected based on their level of innovation and effectiveness, among other criteria.

Ten of the most innovative teachers will receive a behind-the-scenes trip to the Annual PBS Showcase in Austin, Texas, on May 17-20, 2010, to see sneak previews of PBS programs, meet producers, and attend premiere events. Forty winners will receive a bag of PBS gifts that will include best-selling and award-winning PBS programs in digital formats and more. All of the winners will receive free enrollment in an online facilitated professional development course from PBS TeacherLine, and will be invited to partner with PBS and local stations as leaders in classroom innovation. Teachers will have the opportunity to contribute their ideas and provide feedback on PBS programming and educational services.

The winning entries will be featured on the PBS Teachers website. PBS Teachers (www.pbs.org/teachers/) is the web portal to PBS' preK-12 educational services and a searchable library of more than 9,000 free local and national standards-based instructional resources, including on-demand video and interactive games.

Every educator who enters will be registered as members of the PBS Teachers online community where they can connect, collaborate, and share with their peers about integrating digital media and technology in education, and will receive a 10 percent discount to the online PBS store.

For more information on content rules and criteria, or to enter, go to www.pbs.org/teachers/innovators/. Entries will be accepted until March 12. Winners will be announced on April 5. The PBS Teachers Innovation Awards are funded in part by a grant from Elmer's Products, Inc.

Source: PBS, www.pbs.org

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Free Resources: Gale Cengage's Latest—for Black History Month

For Black History Month (February), Gale Cengage has again assembled a collection of activities and information to complement classroom topics.

Within the site are:

* Activities taken from the Black History Month Resource Book, arranged in age categories (elementary, middle, high school, and "all")

* Biographies

* A timeline of events that helped shape African-American heritage

* Literature links to explore

* A Black History Month quiz

... and lots more!

Click HERE to link to the site.

Source: Gale Cengage, www.gale.cengage.com

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Archipelago Releases Study Island Version 3.0

Archipelago Learning, a subscription-based online education company, has announced the release of Study Island Version 3.0.

Built specifically from each state's standards, Study Island is designed to help students in kindergarten through 12th grade master grade-level academic standards in math, reading, writing, science, and social studies in a fun, engaging manner. With new and expanded tools for assessment, instruction, parent communication, collaboration and planning, Study Island v3 is a comprehensive solution to meet diverse needs district-wide at a price averaging $3 to $10 per student. New and improved v3 functionality includes:

* Custom Assessment Builder:  A tool for creating a custom test by choosing specific standards-based questions and practice from an instruction bank

* Writing Assignment:  A new assignment type that allows a teacher to assign a writing prompt to students (the prompt can be the teacher's own, or one provided by Study Island), including a graphic organizer, and/or grading rubric. The assignment is done online, within Study Island, and returned to the teacher for grading.

* Increased functionality for Tier I and Tier II intervention:  Including text-to-speech, which enables a student to highlight text and click the speaker icon to have text read aloud.

* Professional Development Toolbox (PD Toolbox):  A collection of standards-based lesson plans, lessons, instructional videos, and supplemental resources to provide educators with "just-in-time" classroom best practices.

* Interactive Toolkit:  A set of tools available to the student, such as on-screen ruler, protractor, calculators (classic and scientific), scratch pad, and text highlighters. Calculators, scratch pad, and highlighters can be turned off/on by teachers/administrators, and protractor and ruler will be attached to questions where they are applicable.

* Enhanced Reporting:  A new report that helps measure RTI. Shows a specific student's progress in a specific subject and topic by graphing sessions and scores for both on-grade-level material and building-block topics.

* Training Modules:  New training videos about 10-15 minutes in length that teach users how to use key features.  These are very basic, but allow administrators, teachers, and students to learn the basics of using Study Island in a simple, self-paced manner.

* Enhanced Parent Communication:  The ability to communicate with parents via email from within Study Island. Teachers will have the ability to add parent email addresses, create parent groups, and schedule emails to be sent automatically to parents notifying them of assignments, due dates, blue ribbons earned, and more.

A new LiveView feature allows teachers to monitor performance in real-time as students work in Study Island in class and at home. This enables teachers to see when students are on-task or off-task, and immediately provide instructional guidance and intervention.

Using the new parent notification system, teachers can choose from a set of pre-defined notification emails, or schedule and send customized messages about student performance, upcoming assignments, suggested topics of study at home, and other school events such as field trips. Timely parent notifications ensure parents are aware of student accomplishments and can assist in interventions, as necessary.

In addition to increasing the communication flow with students and parents, Study Island v3 gives teachers a digital meeting place for real-time collaboration and networking, and new professional development tools. The Study Island Teacher Forum provides a virtual instructional community where teachers can share ideas, tips, and best practices to enrich the teaching and learning experience.

For students, Study Island v3 includes new interactive games, which are enabled by achieving specific performance targets, to motivate improved performance on their assignments. New instructional tools include an interactive test toolkit with a scratchpad, basic and scientific calculators, and measuring tools, as well as online highlighters and text-to-speech capabilities to support students with special needs.

Source: Archipelago Learning, www.archipelagolearning.com/

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Califone International Launches the Spirit SD Multimedia Player/Recorder

Califone International, Inc., has launched the Spirit SD Multimedia Player/Recorder (1886). The unit's built-in SD card slot and USB port allow the Spirit SD to work with the latest digital file formats, providing educators with the technology to play pre-recorded instructional resources, stories, and music for the whole class.

The Spirit SD (1886) is designed for use during music and movement activities, story time, language acquisition lessons, foreign language instruction, and more. It allows students to record responses and projects with a built-in microphone, helping educators to monitor student progress and to create audio-filled lessons that engage students. Built for high-use environments with shatterproof ABS plastic for durability and safety, the Spirit SD features a CD player, cassette recorder/player, and an AM/FM radio.

This unit is available as a stand-alone multimedia player/recorder, or as part of a four or six-person learning center, which includes a foam-lined storage case, the Califone Stereo Jackbox (1210AVPS) for group learning, and four or six Califone Switchable Stereo/Mono Headphones (3068AV).

The Spirit SD Multimedia Player/Recorder is available for $149. To order, contact a Califone dealer.

Source: Califone International, Inc., www.califone.com

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Time To Know Launches One-to-One Curriculum System

Time To Know has announced the U.S. launch of its complete, interactive curriculum system designed specifically for one-to-one computing classrooms.

With Time To Know, the teacher guides the class using an engaging curriculum that is integrated with tools for classroom management, planning, assessment, and collaboration. Unlike tutorial software, Time To Know is a core curriculum program that delivers standards-based instruction in mathematics and reading/language arts to help students learn essential content and prepare for high stakes tests. Built upon social constructivist principles, the interactive curriculum also offers open-ended explorations and collaboration tools to deepen student understanding and strengthen problem-solving skills.

For teachers, Time To Know provides tools to streamline classroom management, create a smooth flow between group and individual instruction, and deliver differentiated activities to every learner. It also enhances the teacher's role as a coach by providing intensive, ongoing training on strategies for individualizing instruction, building collaborative learning skills, and establishing reflective teaching practices, according to the announcement.

Currently available for grades four and five in math and reading/language arts, Time To Know plans to expand its curriculum offerings to additional grade levels and subject areas.

Source: Time To Know, www.timetoknow.com

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SIIA, JDL Horizons Launch the Vision K-20 Video Portal

The Education Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and JDL Horizons, LLC, have partnered to offer a comprehensive video platform for SIIA's Vision K-20 website (www.siia.net/visionk20/), providing K-20 educators a portal for sharing best practices with peers worldwide.

EduVision is a Flash-based streaming video solution and content portal available to schools, districts, and educational agencies and associations.  It allows educators to have complete control over video content uploaded to their websites, and supports all common internet browsers, including Windows Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari.


To access the new Vision K-20 Video Portal, visit https://siia162.eduvision.tv/default.aspx.  Educators and administrators are encouraged to view and upload videos showcasing best practices of technology use in the classroom.


Sources: Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), www.siia.net; JDL Horizons, www.jdlhorizons.com

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Florida Virtual Partners with Blackboard to Improve Virtual School Experience for Its Students

Blackboard Inc. and the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) have announced a partnership to work to establish Blackboard Learn as the school's online learning platform in an effort to improve the virtual school experience for students.

Blackboard supports a growing number of statewide and district-based virtual schools nationwide. Under the agreement, FLVS will move all of its more than 100 courses to a fully hosted Blackboard Learn platform by the beginning of 2011.

FLVS serves students not just in Florida but in 44 states and 39 different countries, many of whom are able to access core subjects, electives, foreign languages, and honors and Advanced Placement classes that may not be offered at their own school or district. Based on current trends, FLVS expects to significantly increase its enrollments in the next year.

Prior to the agreement, FLVS had already been leveraging Blackboard technology to support its online professional development programs for teachers. These programs have grown rapidly and are expected to continue to expand as the school continues to train and prepare more teachers to keep up with the expected growth in enrollments.

Source: Blackboard Inc., www.blackboard.com

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Epson Introduces BrightLink 450Wi Interactive Projector

Epson has introduced the BrightLink 450Wi, an intelligent, interactive projector that allows educators to turn any standard whiteboard or smooth wall into an interactive learning area. The BrightLink 450Wi delivers a cost-effective solution for educators to integrate interactive capabilities, and eliminates the need to purchase and install dedicated interactive whiteboards, the announcement states.

The BrightLink 450Wi can project onto any existing whiteboard, wall, or other smooth, hard surface. It offers school administrators a price advantage by providing significantly more usable interactive area than dedicated interactive whiteboards. The ultra-short throw Epson BrightLink 450Wi interactive projector comes with two digital infrared pens and wall mount hardware for easy installation.

The BrightLink 450Wi features 2,500 lumens white light output and 2,500 lumens color light output2 with networkability, wireless features and advanced connectivity. It also delivers WXGA resolution (16:10 aspect ratio) for full compatibility with widescreen notebooks and movie content, and can meet the space needs of any classroom by projecting images from 55-inches diagonal to up to 96-inches diagonal (WXGA) and up to 102-inches diagonal (XGA).

Using the BrightLink 450Wi, educators can deliver presentations over a school's wired (using RJ-45 connectivity) network, giving teachers increased flexibility with their lesson delivery methods.

The Epson BrightLink 450Wi offers several easy-to-use and versatile features designed for the classroom and boardroom, including:

  • Flexible Size Setup: Creates large interactive areas without the need to pay a premium for size

 ·        Ultra-Short Throw Distance: Can be mounted as close as 2.8-inches away from the wall to accommodate smaller classrooms or meetings rooms, and can project a 60-inch diagonal image with the lens only 18-inches away; new high performance optics virtually eliminate hardware and shadow interference

 ·        Multi-purpose: Maximizes the value of classroom real estate by projecting on preinstalled standard whiteboards or a plain wall

 ·        Bright Images: 2,500 lumens color light output and 2,500 lumens white light output provides colorful, detailed presentations

 ·        Closed Captioning: Built-in closed captioning decoder makes presentations accessible to viewers with hearing impairments with no added cost, and helps meet section 508 compliance

 ·        Simplified Network Monitoring and Control: Flexible sizing in a single projector can meet the needs of multiple room environments, and RJ-45 wired LAN connectivity for remote monitoring and control via an IT network helps saves time and money

 ·        Message Broadcasting: Included EasyMP Monitor software allows projector to be used as a broadcast system to show customized images and alerts over the network for announcements or instructions

 ·        Easy Setup and Control: Instant On and Instant Off helps to avoid delays when starting and finishing lectures

 ·        USB Plug ‘n Play Instant Setup: Instantly projects images from a Windows PC or Mac via a USB connection, allowing for easier set up

 ·        Extended Lamp Life: Using Epson's E-TORL lamp technology, the lamp life can last up to 3,500 hours3 in economy mode

 ·        Speaker and Microphone Input: Dedicated input allows teachers to use a microphone to amplify voice using the internal 10W speaker

 ·        3LCD Technology: Features 3-chip technology to deliver true-to-life color for presentations; 3LCD technology provides an energy efficient light engine which efficiently uses available lamp light to create images; in contrast to 1-chip DLP technology, 3LCD requires, on average, 25 percent less electricity per lumen of brightness4

The Epson BrightLink 450Wi will be available in spring of 2010 for under $2,000 through select dealers on a state by state basis.

Source: Epson America Inc., www.epson.com

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Epson Announces the PowerLite 83V+ Projector

Epson has introduced the Epson PowerLite 83V+ projector. The $649 PowerLite 83V+ is a feature-rich, easy-to-use and affordable projector benefitting students, teachers and school administrators, the announcement states.

The PowerLite 83V+ features 2,200 lumens white light output, 2,200 lumens color light output2 and XGA resolution; robust sound and communication tools with a built-in 10 watt speaker, delivering clear and crisp audio without requiring external speakers; and a closed captioning decoder to accommodate students with hearing impairments. Epson's E-TORL lamp delivers more lumens per watt than competitive models and lasts up to 4,000 hours, according to the announcement.

The PowerLite 83V+ provides several advanced features for the classroom, including:

-          Flexible Communication: The internal 10-watt speaker and built-in closed captioning decoder make presentations accessible to viewers with hearing impairments at no added cost, and help meet ADA section 508 compliance

-          Advanced Connectivity: RS-232c control protocol allows for connectivity with third-party education control systems; audio out and monitor out connectivity provide the ability to connect to an external audio device and external monitor; dual VGA inputs for connectivity to multiple computers

-          Setup Flexibility: 1.2x optical zoom and +30 degree automatic vertical keystone correction provide easy operation in multiple classroom settings

-          Direct Power On and Off: Powers an installed projector on and off with a flip of a light switch

-          Instant On/Off: Enables teachers to avoid delays when starting and finishing lessons and allows them to be up and running in five seconds between pressing the "Power" button and the appearance of the start-up screen

-          A/V Mute Slide: Turns off the sound and images to create a quick pause in the presentation, conserving lamp life and energy, and helping to save costs; the projector enters A/V Mute mode when the lens cover is closed and returns to normal mode automatically upon reopening the lens cover

-          Extended Lamp Life: Using Epson's E-TORL lamp technology, the lamp life can last up to 4,000 hours in economy mode

-          3LCD Technology: Features 3-chip technology to deliver true-to-life color and detail for presentations; 3LCD technology provides an energy-efficient light engine which efficiently uses available lamp light to create images; in contrast to 1-chip DLP technology, 3LCD requires, on average,  25 percent less electricity per lumen of brightness.

The Epson PowerLite 83V+ will be available in February 2010 through national resellers, pro audio/visual dealers, mail order, and distribution.

Source: Epson America Inc., www.epson.com/

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Brainchild Achiever! Now Offers Test Questions and Tutorials in Spanish

Brainchild has announced that Achiever!-an online assessment and instruction program used to evaluate student performance on state standards-now offers test questions and tutorials in Spanish or English. Students may change the text on their screen or select audio narrations in either Spanish or English and then may toggle between to the two as needed.

Achiever! is used by teachers around the country to assess standards-based performance and then deliver tutorials and retest students to determine their progress on their state's standards. Data from the program can be shared between teachers, administrators, and parents so that they can monitor student progress and provide intervention and differentiated instruction as needed. It is used in traditional classrooms, after-school programs, and migrant education programs.

Achiever! automates and simplifies continuous assessments and monitoring of student progress, so it is especially helpful in Response to Intervention (RTI) programs.

With the Spanish support, Spanish-speaking students can be more self-directed because they can read test questions and answers in Spanish and they can go through the tutorials-including all the on-screen animations, illustrations, text and audio narrations-in either language.

Source: Brainchild, Corp., www.brainchild.com

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Facts On File Announces Launch of Writer’s Reference Center

Facts On File has announced the launch of Writer's Reference Center, a resource that provides users with all the tools necessary to write and research effectively, according to the announcement. From the mechanics of writing and grammar to style and research, the  online source covers the fundamentals of quality writing and provides vocabulary-building reference dictionaries.

Features include:

* Writing References: almost 100,000 definitions from over a dozen thematic dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference books from Facts On File, including the Facts On File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Fourth Edition; the Dictionary of Literary and Thematic Terms, Second Edition; and many more  

* Writing Resources: more than 150 essays covering grammar, style, research, and more, presented in an easy-to-use format, allowing users both to learn new concepts and to find answers to specific usage and style questions  
 

* Specially selected features highlighting important topics for writers   
 

* Featured words and phrases helping writers expand their vocabulary and depth of understanding  
 

* An easy-to-use interface and intuitive design for finding relevant information quickly through customizable searches and browsing  
 

* A "Did You Mean...?" search feature  
 

* Persistent record links  
 

* Full citations in both MLA and Chicago formats  
 

* The ability to print, copy, and save all content to a folder for personal use

For ordering, pricing, or other information, please contact the Online Sales Department at

onlinesales@factsonfile.com.

Source: Facts on File, www.factsonfile.com

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Learning A-Z, Language Technologies Offer PreK-6 Reading Education Materials via iTunes App Store

Learning A-Z, Inc., a PreK-6 educational resource company and business unit of Cambium Learning Group, Inc, in partnership with Language Technologies, Inc., developers of Readsmart software, has announced that 120 ReadingA-Z  leveled readers are now available for purchase at Apple's iTunes App Store as ReadSmart Edition Apps. The catalog is the largest release of PreK-6 reading skills and literacy educational materials offered on the App Store, and is designed specifically for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Learning A-Z delivers leveled readers and supplementary curriculum through a suite of six integrated websites. The company's efforts with LTI will produce ReadingA-Z titles covering 27 levels of difficulty spanning PreK-6 readability to the App Store, including individual books, special 12-book leveled libraries, and more. Each of the leveled books features discussion points and other learning resources, which are regularly updated.

Consumers can visit the iTunes App Store and search for LearningA-Z or ReadingA-Z to download a selection of free sample books. Individual books can be purchased for $0.99 each, and 12-book libraries for $6.99.

Source: Learning A-Z, Inc., www.learninga-z.com/

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AASL Votes to Adopt the Professional Title 'School Librarian'

The American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) Board of Directors voted at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010, to officially adopt for the profession the title school librarian.

A recent AASL survey indicated confusion, misperceptions, and inconsistencies about various job titles in the school librarian profession. The AASL Affiliate Assembly requested that the AASL Board of Directors choose a title for its professionals that is clear to other educators, administrators, and the public, and that presents a common nomenclature for all publications and advocacy efforts.

AASL leadership reviewed the data and identified the advantages and disadvantages of the various titles. After a focused and extensive discussion, the AASL Board of Directors voted to adopt school librarian as the title which reflects the roles of the 21st-century school library professional as a leader, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher, and program administrator.

As the overarching strategic goal of AASL is to achieve universal recognition of school librarians as indispensable educational leaders, AASL will work to advance and promote the title school librarian, and will open dialog concerning stakeholders' needs, wants, and preferences; the current realities and evolving dynamics of the professional environment; the capacity and strategic position of the association; and the ethical implications relevant to this decision.

The American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field. 

Source: American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org

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