School Media Specialists Critical for Resolving Reading Crisis

The following excerpt is from an April 23 blog post by Kathy Lester, a school library media specialist with Plymouth-Canton Community Schools and past president of the Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME). The full post is available here.

My association, the Michigan Association for Media in Education, appreciates the hard work and in-depth research done by the Education Trust-Midwest in its recent report “2018 State of Michigan Education Report: Top Ten for Education: Not by Chance.”

Our group supports all the recommendations in that report to improve education and literacy in Michigan. But we believe there is one more important recommendation that should have been included: “Michigan MUST support effective school libraries supported by certified school library media specialists in order to improve literacy in our state.”

The ETM report points out that Michigan ranks poorly on the National Assessment of Education Progress – the Nation’s Report card. Not coincidentally, Michigan also ranks 47th in the ratio of students to certified school library media specialists (NCES 2015 data).

The report also points out that Michigan reading scores fell between 2003-2015; again, not coincidentally, Michigan lost more than 60 percent of its school library media specialists during this same time frame.






There are multiple studies in more than 20 states, including Michigan, that show that school libraries with a full-time certified teaching school librarian improve student reading achievement regardless of socio-economic or educational levels of the community. In fact, at-risk students benefit proportionally more from the presence of a full-time certified school librarian.

To become a top 10 state for education, Michigan needs strong, effective school library programs led by certified school library media specialists; these professionals develop a culture of reading, support third grade reading efforts, and have a positive impact on student achievement.

[W]e believe that schools with a well-stocked and consistently funded library staffed by certified school library media specialists should be a reality for every single child in Michigan, not a luxury reserved for a privileged few.

 Click here for the full blog post.

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