For the first time in nearly a decade, the state of PA commissioned a study that showed a direct positive link between having certified school library media specialists available to students in grades three through eleven and improved reading scores. And, for the first time ever, the data also supports that school librarians can greatly improve students writing test scores, as well.
Similar results were recently posted in the American Libraries November/December 2012 pg. 23: "Australia: findings from Softlink's annual Australian School Library Survey have revealed a positive link between literacy results and school library resource levels. The April 2012 survey found that students attending schools that received above-average levels of library funding and staffing placed a higher than the national average on National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy test scores. - Softlink.
On first read, this looks impressive - and supports their logic that a stronger financial support will provide greater returns. But then, I began to wonder:
- what other factors were not mentioned?
- I understand that to be a good writer, one must be a good reader - but what else changed?
- were there new summer reading programs (to prevent reading loss)?
- was the complexity of the tests consistent with prior tests?
- switching from CAT testing to NWEA will NOT equate
- If every school had a certified school library media specialist:
- did they also have larger budgets to purchase update materials?
- did they retain all of their teaching staff?
- were there any curriculum changes?
- was the Common Core initiated prior to the testing?
- was there a shift in the socioeconomic status of those students tested?
- did the test takers parents achieve a higher level of education than previous test takers?