School Libraries & Student Achievement

6 03 2013

Way back when, Keith Curry Lance and his colleagues undertook a study in Colorado to determine the correlation between school libraries and student achievement on mandated state tests.  This became known as the First Colorado Study and, since then, it has been replicated in many US states as well as other countries and the same results continue to emerge – that students with well-staffed, well-resourced libraries where there are formal programs of instruction consistently out-perform students in schools where this is not the case.

Given the high-stakes testing that is likely to accompany the funding for the Literacy Initiative, it is timely that a new infographic summarising the results of all these formal studies has been produced by the Library Research Service

This is the sort of information that we need to not only have at our fingertips, but also to share with executive so they start to understand that when TLs advocate they do so on behalf of their students, not because they are pushing their own barrow.

Recently a memo was sent to all staff in a particular network of NSW secondary schools advising each faculty of the venue they needed to go to for the upcoming Staff Development Day focusing on the Australian National Curriculum due to be implemented in that state starting in 2014.  Tacked on the bottom was the statement

The venue for Librarians and Careers is unknown at the present.

Setting aside the argument that such a subject-driven approach is archaic and a relic of the Industrial Age of the 19th century, what does it say about

    • the committee’s knowledge about the ANC where Inquiry is a substrand of all the other strands except English and Maths, where it could arguably also sit?
    • the committee’s knowledge about the role of the TL as a curriculum leader?
    • the committee’s commitment to the best learning outcomes for the students in their care?

Perhaps it is time that we actively push what the research is saying, and this infographic will be a great start – who can say that they don’t have time to look at a picture?

If the Federal Government is serious about improving the literacy development of our youngest students then the TL has a vital role to play and we need to make them aware of this.  Perhaps it is time to start a letter-writing campaign to our local members AND the wannabes given the likelihood of sitting members being returned in many electorates so that they know the power of the TL’s role; and to also start telling parents through newsletters, social networking and so forth that their children don’t need the added stress of a Junior NAPLAN – they just need a qualified, active, top-shelf TL like you.

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