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Library Media Program Activities Associated with Higher Reading Scores

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).

Library Media Program Development Correlates with Academic Achievement

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).

Library Media Program Development Correlates with Academic Achievement

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.

School librarians offer information literacy and technology instruction

School librarians offer information literacy and technology instruction that is crucial for 21st century learners, particularly marginalized at-risk learners who may not have access to resources and computers in their homes. Furthermore, school libraries can provide students equal access to print and digital resources to help close the gap between privileged and at-risk students

Students gain important critical thinking and career-building skills at the public library

Students gain important critical thinking and career-building skills at the public library. A survey of more than 430 human resource officials, conducted in 2006 by the New York City-based Conference Board, found that 72% rated recent hires as deficient in basic English writing skills, such as grammar and spelling, and 81% rated them as deficient in written communications more broadly, such as memos, letters, and complex technical reports. In a 2005 survey conducted for the National Association of Manufacturers, 84% of respondents said schools were not doing a good job preparing students for the workplace, with more than half citing specific deficiencies in mathematics and science and 3% citing deficiencies in reading and comprehension. The lack of applied or “soft” skills—everyday social skills, work ethic, verbal and nonverbal communications, attendance, interview abilities, time and workload management, working productively with others, and attitude—dominated the complaints of business leaders. People who score higher on “measures of complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and fluency with ideas have higher mean earnings in the labor market, across all levels of education.”

Library staff in the top middle schools spend more time on collaboration

Library media staff in the top performing middle schools spent 25.4 percent more time providing staff development to teachers or other staff than the 25 lowest scoring schools (1.48 vs. 1.18 hours per week). Library staff in the top high schools spent more time on … collaboration … activities than library staff in the bottom schools. They are particularly more active in providing staff development to teachers and staff (1.31 vs. 0.35 hours per week). 

Students with better staffed libraries score higher on the ACT

Students in better staffed programs [i.e., those with more library media specialists and more LMS hours] scored 8.4 to 21.8 percent higher on ACT English tests and 11.7 to 16.7 percent higher on ACT Reading tests compared to students in schools where library media programs had fewer resources.

Reading scores are higher where librarian-teacher collaboration is considered essential

At the middle school level, the percentage of students with advanced reading scores was 12.6% higher for schools with administrators who considered librarian-teacher collaboration (in design and delivery of instruction) essential (vs. less than essential).

Schools with above average reading scores frequently have full-time media specialists

In Minnesota schools with above average student scores on the Grade 3, 5, and 8 reading tests, 66.8% were schools where the media specialist worked full-time. Twice as many schools with above average scores had full-time media specialists. Student reading achievement in elementary and secondary schools is related to increases in school library media program spending.

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