Our visits to libraries throughout the state show that these programs help develop strong reading skills in Pennsylvania’s children. The programs encourage children to enjoy reading and give them opportunities to spend lots of time with books—a first step toward developing strong reading skills. Children also benefit from the rich literacy experiences afforded by the many special events and organized programs the library offers. Finally, parents of children engaged in preschool and summer reading programs appear to be strongly invested in their children’s reading achievement. For thousands of children through Pennsylvania, preschool and summer reading programs offer a strong step in their climb toward reading achievement, and ultimately, success in school (40).
As these findings suggest, summer reading clubs encourage children to read, and to read often. Research has shown that the amount of time children spend with books is crucial to reading achievement, and ultimately, to school achievement in general. Parents, children, and librarians report that the goals and structure of the summer reading program are very conducive to promoting reading (37).
Observations at various libraries and interviews with parents, children, and library staff reveal that preschool and summer reading programs encourage children to spend significant amounts of time with books, a first step toward reading achievement. Observations and interviews also show that library programs encourage parents to play greater roles in the children’s literacy development—another factor leading to reading achievement (4).
In Alaska, the percentage of students scoring proficient or above on reading tests was higher for schools with more hours per typical week of professional librarian staffing; more staff time spent weekly delivering information literacy instruction to students, planning cooperatively with teachers, and providing in-service training to teachers; collection development policies that address the issue of reconsideration requests or challenges to library materials; computers with modem capability (to access the Internet); and a relationship—formal or informal—with the public library. In addition to these direct predictors of test scores, the Alaska study identified one series of relationships worthy of note: Schools with more librarian staffing spend more time teaching information literacy, resulting in more student visits to library media centers and, in turn, higher reading scores.In Pennsylvania, higher average reading scores for schools were associated with the presence of school librarians with more hours per week of support staff; higher expenditures on the library media program; larger collections of information resources (e.g., books, periodical subscriptions, Access Pennsylvania and other databases); more computers, both in the library media center and throughout the school, that provide access to information resources (e.g., licensed databases, the Internet); and spending more library media staff time integrating the teaching of information literacy into the school's curriculum and approach to addressing academic standards (8-9).
In all four states, the level of development of the LM [library media] program was a predictor of student performance. In all four states, data on staffing levels correlated with test scores. In Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Oregon, additional data on collections and expenditures were predictive of reading scores. Where LM programs are better staffed, better stocked, and better funded, academic achievement tends to be higher (7).
In all four states, the level of development of the LM [library media] program was a predictor of student performance. In all four states, data on staffing levels correlated with test scores. In Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Oregon, additional data on collections and expenditures were predictive of reading scores. Where LM programs are better staffed, better stocked, and better funded, academic achievement tends to be higher.
Libraries are uniquely positioned to respond to the achievement gap, because they draw families from across the socio-economic spectrum. Libraries are second only to religious-sponsored events as the destinations of choice for family outings regardless of parents’ economic and education levels.
Where networked computers link school libraries with classrooms, labs, and other instructional sites, student earn higher PSSA reading test scores. These higher scores are particularly linked to the numbers of computers enabling teachers and students to utilize:the ACCESS PENNSYLVANIA database;licensed databases; andInternet/World Wide Web.
Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) reading scores increase in the following characteristics of school library information programs: staffing, information technology, and integration of information literacy into the curriculum.
… [H]igher and lower scoring elementary schools are distinguished by the amount of time school library staff spend in teaching students and teachers how to access and use print and electronic information resources. At higher achieving schools library staff spend three days on such activities for every two by lower achieving schools… At higher achieving schools at all grade levels, library staff are involved in committees and provide in-service training to teachers. Library staff at lower achieving schools usually do not engage in these activities at all.