OGDEN -- Ogden School District will not lose accreditation anytime soon following the reduction in force of the school's 20 media specialists on Friday.
While many secondary schools in Utah have licensed teachers as media specialists, it is not a requirement by the state, said Tiffany Hall, K-12 literacy coordinator for the Utah State Office of Education.
"It is one of the accreditation assurances, especially at the secondary level," Hall said. "But it isn't enough that the school would lose accreditation."
She noted that schools must have a variety of standards and assurances the accreditation board looks at. Also, that board is not run through the USOE. It is a federal board, and the accreditation specialist has her office with the USOE, but works for the western accreditation board, Hall said.
Ogden School Board President Shane Story said the Ogden School District board and superintendent were aware of the accreditation assurances with the media specialists.
"We knew it would affect them, but we didn't know exactly how," Story said.
He went on to say the district wouldn't have made the change if it thought the decision would have a large impact on the district's accreditation. The district will have two district media specialists in place who do have their teaching licenses, which will help the situation.
"We will make sure the high schools make their accreditation requirements," Story said.
There are so many points of accreditation that it shouldn't have a huge impact on their overall score. Story was adamant that no one in the district would ever put the schools in any danger of not being accredited.
Both Hall and Story said accreditation is a process and a school can't just lose its accreditation in a short period of time. If there is an issue, the accreditation board works with the district to help them meet their requirements.
Hall said many districts throughout the state still have licensed media specialists in their junior high and high schools.
"These are local decisions based on local budgets," Hall said.
Districts can also make the call on implementation, like Ogden's decision to have just two licensed media specialists at the district level. Those specialists will train the staff assistants who will be in the schools, Story said.
But many areas of research suggest that having a licensed media specialist in each school has a huge impact on students and test scores. Hall said a recent study from a Colorado school district makes a direct correlation between fully licensed media specialists and students' achievement, including improved test scores.
"That person can play a vital role," she said.
Media specialists are more important than ever before, Hall believes.
"It used to be a student would go in the library for research and get a World Book (encyclopedia) and know it was the correct information," Hall said. "Now, a media specialist needs to guide those students to make sure they are gathering correct information from (various) media sources.
"They could find information from 14 different sites and 13 of them might not be reliable," Hall said. "Having a real library media person is an important part of the conversation."
Story said there will be someone in the library for students to talk with and get help from; that person, however, may not be a teacher licensed as a media specialist.
Students at Mount Ogden Junior High School have started a petition to bring back the media specialists.