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School librarians in Washington, D.C., Public Schools (DCPS) have worked diligently to increase literacy in every school over the past several years. In a compelling new report for the EveryLibrary Institute, Could School Librarians Be the Secret to Increasing Literacy Scores?, author Nijma Esad shows a strong connection between student access to librarians and gains in the literacy-based component of standardized tests for students in DCPS. In a survey of DCPS librarians she conducted for the report, a majority say that the support they provide to students through book clubs, author visits, reading challenges, and access to books have all contributed to the literacy gains their schools have seen. The school librarians surveyed in the report acknowledge with even more funding and support they could do even more to help boost literacy.
This report is based on her personal experience as a school librarian in Washington, D.C. as well as her independent research within DCPS. "Increasingly, students are becoming data points instead of young people with names, personalities, and talents. It is disheartening to watch, especially as a librarian who fosters a love of reading, creativity, and critical thinking skills development," Esad writes. "In an educational system that attaches value to students based on their standardized test scores, school districts and educators find themselves scrambling to identify new tools and techniques to help increase students’ math and reading scores."
This report shows that lack of support for school libraries can have real, lasting consequences. Students who have little or no access to librarians and the services they provide are disadvantaged in ways that can affect them for the rest of their lives. While further research is needed to determine the impact certified librarians have in boosting literacy scores across the nation, we see these results as a clear reason to invest in quality library programs and the certified school librarians who teach there.
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About the Author
Nijma Esad is a School Librarian at a Washington, DC Public Middle School, in the SE quadrant of the city. She has been in education for over 20 years, in various capacities, as a tutor, research assistant, teacher, and librarian. She is a Chicago native and received her undergraduate degree in History from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, an M.A. in Inner-City Studies Education from Northeastern Illinois University, and after relocating to Washington, DC, she obtained her M.S. in Library Information Science from The Catholic University of America. An adult educator, she has taught several professional development courses for the Washington Teacher's Union. Nijma is also a Travel Ambassador for DCPS and has led international and domestic study abroad experiences for students. You can follow her on Twitter @Books_RMagical and Instagram @hart_booklady.
Published January 2022