Does eliminating certified school library media specialists make a difference in student reading scores in Minnesota public schools?
The purpose of this study was to explore the question; does eliminating certified school library media specialists make a difference in student reading scores in Minnesota public schools? This study analyzed quantitative data collected from the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA), which recorded public school reading achievement levels. A follow-up portion of the study consisted of interviews with six administrators at schools that were one or more standard deviations above and below the failing mean to explain how they compensated for the loss of the certified library media specialist (CLMS).
For the purposes of this study, student reading failure rate was defined as the sum of the percentages of students with gaps in knowledge and partial knowledge and skills on the MCA reading exams. The interpretation of the quantitative data suggested that student reading scores did not decline with the removal of the CLMS.
Interviews with school administrators identified factors that may contribute to the improvement in student reading achievement. These factors included continuous access to the media center and materials, staffing levels to provide service for students and staff, improved reading programs, and commitment by faculty and staff to ensure students a quality education.
This study only looked at one small segment of an elementary student's education, reading test scores. A CLMS has a greater impact on an elementary school than just the reading area, as revealed the Library Impact Studies. These studies indicated that the CLMS performs a multitude of duties, including: collaborating with teachers; providing leadership and expertise in the acquisition and evaluation of information resources; teaching information literacy skills; and establishing policies and procedures of the library media programs. Additional research needs to be conducted to explore the possible impact the elimination of a CLMS on these other areas of students' education.
0535: Reading instruction
0399: Library science