Talking Points for
11. Students achieve more academically when their teachers and school library media specialists plan and deliver instruction collaboratively.
Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point
Strong correlations between test scores and the instructional roles regularly provided by library media specialists at the high school level also offer some indicators for certified staff and their administrative supervisors about how to allocate library work time. Providing reference assistance, instructing students in research strategies, use of resources and information literacy; and communicating proactively with the principal were among those activities that were most strongly related to student achievement. (Achterman 2008)
Three out of four secondary schools (almost 75 percent) [in Alaska] spending average or above amounts of time on cooperative planning were schools with higher-achieving students. (Lance, Hamilton-Pennell and Rodney 2000)
It is clear from the findings that there are some highly effective school libraries in Delaware—school libraries that are strongly integrated into the learning fabric of the school and which contribute to student learning outcomes. These school libraries have a common set of characteristics:
- a state-certified, full time, library media specialist in the building;
- the availability of para-professional staff who undertake routine administrative tasks and free the library media specialist to undertake instructional initiatives and reading literacy initiatives;
- a library program that is based on flexible scheduling so that library media specialists and classroom teachers can engage in collaborative planning and delivery of information literacy instruction;
- an active instructional program of information literacy integrated into curriculum content, and targeted towards learning curriculum content and skills;
- a school library that meets resource recommendations of 15-20 books per child;
- the provision of professional development on information literacy and technology literacies to the teaching faculty;
- a budget allocation of $12-$15 per student per year to ensure currency and vitality of the information base;
- a strong networked information technology infrastructure that facilitates access to and use of information resources in an and out of school.
Library media specialists (LMSs) exert a complex web of effects on the LM programs. Findings about these effects are summed up in the following description of a strong LM program. A strong LM program is one
- that is adequately staffed, stocked, and funded. Minimally, this means one full-time library media specialist (LMS) and one full-time aide. The relationship, however, is incremental; as the staffing, collections and funding of LM programs grow, reading scores rise.
- whose staff are actively involved leaders in their school’s teaching and learning enterprise. A successful LMS is one who has the ear and support of the principal, serves with other teachers on the school’s standards and curriculum committees, and holds regular meetings of the LM staff. Students succeed where the LMS participates with classroom teachers and administrators in making management decisions that encourage higher levels of achievement by every student.
- whose staff have collegial, collaborative relationships with classroom teachers. A successful LMS is one who works with a classroom teacher to identify materials that best support and enrich an instructional unit, is a teacher of essential information literacy skills to students, and, indeed, is a provider of in-service training opportunities to classroom teachers. Students succeed where the LMS is a consultant to, a colleague with, and a teacher of other teachers.
- that embraces networked information technology. The library media center of today is no longer a destination; it is a point of departure for accessing the information resources that are the essential raw material of teaching and learning. Computers in classrooms, labs and other school locations provide networked access to information resource—the library catalog, electronic full text, licensed databases, locally mounted databases, and the Internet. Students succeed where the LM program is not a place to go, apart from other sites of learning in the school, but rather an integral part of the educational enterprise that reaches out to students and teachers where they are.
Schools at every grade level tended to have more students scoring at the advanced level on both reading and language arts if their administrators had assessed highly the teaching of ICT standards. This is perhaps the most important finding of this study, because those self-assessments also tend to coincide with administrators placing a high value on key library-related practices and desiring that their libraries play certain roles. Those practices include:
- flexible scheduling of library access,
- instructional collaboration between teachers and librarian,
- provision of in-service professional development to faculty by librarians,
- regular meetings between principal and librarian,
- the librarian serving on school committees, and
- the librarian’s instructional role being addressed in teacher hiring interviews.
The wider spectrum of activities involved in true collaboration between school librarians and classroom teachers demonstrates an impact at the high school level, particularly through the links between those activities and eleventh-grade test scores. On a weekly basis, at the typical responding high school, library staff spends:
- three hours identifying materials for teachers,
- two hours planning with teachers,
- one hour motivating students to read,
- one hour teaching with teachers
- almost an hour serving on school committees, and
- half an hour meeting with library staff from another school or district
Like elementary schools, high schools tended to have better test results where teachers reported that they initiate collaboration with LMSs on the design and delivery of instruction at least weekly or monthly. (Lance, Rodney and Russell 2007)
Key to a truly exemplary library program was that the teacher-librarian took on a broader educational role within the school, providing support for classroom teachers through partnering and collaboration, supporting all students through shared teaching and cross-curricular support or integration of curriculum. (Klinger 2009)
Vitally important is the vision of the library as a classroom and a welcoming place of learning. The teacher-librarians are leaders in their school and outstanding teachers. Both the library and the teacher librarian are recognized as playing a critical role in supporting the educational outcomes of the school. In schools with these types of libraries, students reported high levels of satisfaction and engagement with their libraries and they were active readers. The majority wanted to have more opportunities to use the school library. (Klinger 2009)
TAAS performance was associated with different library factors at each educational level. Library variables found to be important were:
- Library staff per 100 students
- Library staff hours per 100 students
- Library hours of operation per 100 students
- Volumes per students
- Current subscriptions to magazines and newspapers per 100 students
- Planning instructional units with teachers
- Providing staff development to teachers
In the five programs visited, the library media specialists not only help teachers make their curriculum resource-rich, but work with teachers to revise existing units and develop new innovative units. The results of these efforts enhance the curriculum, refresh teachers, raise expectations, and increase student interest. (Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2006)
Library-media specialists do so much more than order books, organize materials, keep track of the stacks, teach research skills and keep the media in working order for classroom teachers. They are partners with classroom teachers in providing a comprehensive literacy program where the cognitive skills of reading and the affective attitudes toward reading are seen as tandem parts of literacy. Both are needed. If the autobiographies of these pre-service teachers are any indication of the memories of others who have experienced the impact of librarians, the classroom teacher is seen as the one who teaches students “how” to read, but the librarians are seen as a primary force in schools of developing a “love” of books and of reading… The library-media specialist is able to focus on literature and see the many ways that narrative and expository text can enrich the lives of individual children and classroom instruction of that content area. The partnership between the two professionals allows each to add a valuable part to every child’s educational experience. (Collier 2007)
… [T]he results indicated that the way libraries were used differed between successful and unsuccessful schools. Successful schools schedule more class time in the library, spend more time allowing students to check out materials, have more individual student research hours, offer more time for reading incentive programs like Accelerated Reader, are used more frequently by faculty members for professional growth and classroom support, and are open more hours beyond the school day. (Roberson, Schweinle and Applin 2003)
When library media specialists work with teachers to support learning opportunities with books, computer resources, and more, students learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized test scores than their peers in schools without good libraries. (Scholastic 2008)
Public libraries can help students prepare for the demands of college life.
High schools are too focused on test taking and covering material to prepare students for the demands of college life. Key cognitive strategies needed for a smooth transition into college include: intellectual openness; inquisitiveness; analysis; interpretation; evidence-based reasoning and argumentation; and problem solving. Unfortunately, the development of these strategies “is often overshadowed by an instructional focus on the de-contextualized content and facts necessary to pass exit examinations.” Academic knowledge and skills such as writing and research skills, as well as the skills that come from deep exposure to content areas such as math, social studies, English, science, and foreign languages are also given short shrift in today’s high school classrooms, which are focused on moving quickly through subject matter. Academic behaviors that students need to be ready for college include independent time management and independent study skills. They also need contextual skills and awareness to figure out how to complete college and financial aid applications and handle personal finances, as well as life skills necessary for surviving the transition from the highly structured world of high school to the independence of college. Jobs (paid and unpaid) and other experiences at the public library can help prepare teens for the demands of college life. (Conley 2007)
In elementary schools with a certified (vs. non-certified) library media specialist, students have significantly higher achievement scores on the 4th grade ELA test. (Small 2008)
Teens are regular and enthusiastic patrons who continue to visit and utilize the public library at increasingly greater rates.
In a 2007 poll, it was found that one-third of teens between the ages of 12–18 visited the public library ten times a year or more. Seventy-eight percent of teens who consider themselves “regular library visitors” borrow books and other materials for personal use from the public library on a frequent basis. From 1993 to 2005, the numbers for attendance at programs for children and young adults have steadily increased, from over 35.6 million/year in 1993 to 54.6 million/year in 2005. Computer and online games have become part of the mix at many public libraries, and some use gaming to attract new patrons. Libraries’ response to gaming demonstrates the institutions’ flexibility and willingness to innovate in their response to changing audience interests. The Public Library Association’s 2007 Public Library Data Service Statistical Report, which tracked young adult service trends in public libraries, found that nearly 90% of the public libraries surveyed offer young adult services; over half (51.9%) employ at least one full-time equivalent staff person dedicated to fostering young adult programs and services. Compare this to 1994, when just 11% of libraries had a young adult librarian; 58% of librarians considered the lack of staff a barrier to increasing services for young adults and 61% indicated that insufficient services, resources, and programs were moderate or major barriers to increasing services and resources for young adults. (Harris Interactive 2007; Chute and Kroe 1995; Chute and Kroe 2007; American Library Association 2008; Public Library Association and Public Library Data Service 2007; Heaviside 1995)
Thus, based on this study, for library media programs to optimize the correlation with student academic achievement, the following conditions should be in place: develop, implement and assess a strong library media program in collaboration with the school community; have a solid collection that supports the curriculum; provide optimal access, including flexible scheduling; plan and teach in collaboration with classroom teachers; obtain concrete administrative support; and participate actively in learning communities. (Farmer 2006)
Collaborative planning and instruction accounted for 17.7 percent of the variance in principles correlated with student academic achievement. The individual principles included: collaborative planning (the single most important factor within that factor), modeling effective teaching, integration of information literacy, facilities for learning, program planning assessment of student academic achievement, administrative support, and communication about the program. (Farmer 2006)