The Library Research Service is undertaking a third “Colorado study” of school libraries, with the working title, How School Librarians Teach Critical Thinking. This study, employing an exciting new methodology, will provide the most precise evidence to date on the value of school librarians by focusing on how they teach information literacy skills. Here is a little background on this study.
In 1993, The Impact of School Library Media Centers on Academic Achievement (a.k.a. the first Colorado study) demonstrated on a statewide basis, for the first time, that achievement test scores tend to rise with the size of a school library?s staff and collection, school library expenditures, and the time spent by the school librarian in an instructional role, regardless of the school?s general staffing and funding levels and the community?s socio-economic status.
Between 2000 and 2005, How School Librarians Help Kids Achieve Standards: the Second Colorado Study, and more than a dozen other successor studies, generated remarkably consistent evidence that such relationships continue, especially when academic achievement is measured by state-mandated, standards-based tests. These recent studies further explored the collaborative teaching role that school librarians can play with classroom teachers as well as the additional impact attributable to technology programs that are integrated with, and that expand access to, library resources.
The persuasiveness of all of these earlier studies?the first two Colorado studies and their successors?is limited by the fact that the measure of academic achievement was the percentage of students meeting overall standards for reading, writing, and/or language arts.
Specific information literacy objectives have been integrated into the Colorado Student Assessment Program?s Content Standards. For the first time, LRS researchers now have access to building-level summary data about the performance of students on each of those objectives for making students more critical thinkers about, and users of, information.
In the 2005 Colorado School Library Survey, responding school librarians are being asked new questions about their own activities?questions designed to reveal how school librarians are teaching students to be critical thinkers about, and users of, information.
The Colorado State Library is cooperating with the Library Research Service?a CSL unit operated in partnership with the University of Denver Library and Information Science Program?to provide funding for this research.