I spent the summer of 2009 researching the best ways to assess Information Literacy at Elms College’s Alumnae Library. I researched the possibility of using the following standardized tests: SAILS – Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills – developed by Kent State University

  • This appears to be a good test at an affordable price ($3 per test), but it doesn’t provide individual scores only a group assessment (for example, ENG 101, Section 01 received an average score of 78%). This doesn’t work for us because students at Elms College are required to pass the exam before they graduate, and therefore need to receive an individual grade. Carolyn Radcliff, a SAILS representative, told me that they are developing a system that will issue individual grades, but it won’t be in place until the fall of 2010.

TRAILS – Tool for Real Time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills – developed by Kent State University

  • “TRAILS is a knowledge assessment with multiple-choice questions targeting a variety of information literacy skills based on sixth and ninth grade standards.” The language of the test is designed for middle and high school students and therefore doesn’t suit our needs.

iSkills/ICT – Information and Communication Technology Literacy – developed by the Educational Testing Service

  • This test appears to be a good test but they charge $25 per test for a pool of 51 – 250 students, and that price is simply too expensive for Elms College.

ILT – Information Literacy Test – developed by James Madison University

  • This test is thorough and affordable at $7 per test, but its 65 question length is too long. Four librarians, two support staff members, and one student took the exam, and we all came to the conclusion that students may get frustrated with its length and not finish the exam. And, of course, this would then be a waste of our money. We also thought the exam was unfairly difficult and geared more towards library professionals than students.

Since none of the above standarized tests meet our needs, I decided to severely revise our homegrown information literacy exam questions.