So can there be a link between reading achievement scores as measured by NAPLAN testing and the presence or absence of Teacher Librarians in schools?
Sue McKerracher, Chief Executive Officer of ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association) seems to think there most definitely is an impact to be had, particularly when she states the obvious in a recent release on the ALIA website:
‘School libraries and teacher librarians are well placed to contribute to improving student skills in reading, digital literacy, critical thinking and research skills. However we see only a small number of teacher librarians on staff compared to other specialist teachers in schools.’
McKerracher goes on to quote research completed by Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to back up her claim:
….. in 2013 only 4-5% of primary teachers and 2-3% of secondary teachers were working in a library role. This compared with 5% of secondary teachers involved in Languages Other Than English, 5% in computing and 6% in special needs.”
While this report suggests that fewer graduates are entering Library & Information Science programs, perhaps a simpler explanation is that fewer teacher librarians are being appointed to roles within our libraries. Sadly, the kind of thoughts I expressed in a recently published article: It’s time: let’s improve schools’ perceptions of teacher librarians suggests that the collective lack of promotion by teacher librarians of their role within schools is surreptitiously adding to the demise of the role we are able to play in schools and the impact we are having on literacy achievement or more specifically, the NAPLAN scores achieved by the students in our schools.
It is no secret to those of us working in school libraries that the myriad of tasks facing us on a day-to-day basis are often totally overwhelming. Finding the time to create the spin needed to ensure the profile of the library and its staff is recognized, appreciated and valued can be totally daunting.
Be in no doubt though – publicizing what we do, how we do it and why we do it – is an essential part of our role. The effort put into this important aspect of school libraries can, in the end, be a make it or break it decision that may have far reaching ramifications, particularly at this end of the year in Australian schools, where number crunching hits the top of the list by school administrators.
A recent post by Megan Daley: NAPLAN Results and the Role of the School Library and Teacher Librarian says it strongly and very clearly!
To me at least, part of the issue seems to be that people don’t really know what teacher librarians actually do. Everyone seems to understand the role of the French teacher, the Maths teacher, the primary classroom teacher, the school groundsman, and the school receptionist (AKA the jack of all trades in a school). But few people seem to know what a teacher librarian does and how crucial the role is ensuring the success of our schools and our students.”
Daley doesn’t mince words when she implores those who don’t have the passion to get out of the profession and for those who do have the passion to shout from the rafters so that school communities sit up and take notice.
Take the time to read her post. It’s excellent!