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Improving Literacy through School Libraries (I-B-4)
This new program is designed to improve the literacy skills and academic achievement of students by providing them with access to up-to-date school library materials; technologically advanced school library media centers; and professionally certified school library media specialists.
School libraries are critical to meet schools' instructional goals and objectives. They promote literacy by developing and encouraging reading. Based on the most recent Schools and Staffing Survey findings (school year 1993-94) about half (52 percent) of schools with library media centers did not have a full-time statecertified librarian and about one-third of students were in such schools. Twenty percent of schools with library media centers did not have a librarian at all. About 35 percent of teachers believed that library or media materials were not adequate to support their instructional objectives.
WHAT'S NEW--The No Child Left Behind Act
Focuses on What Works
- Requires use of programs and materials grounded in scientifically based research. Local school districts are required to use research-based programs and materials.
Increases Accountability for Student Performance
- Requires school districts to submit annual reports to the secretary of education. School districts must report annually on how program funds were used and the extent to which the funds increased access to, and the use of, school library media resources.
How It Works
The new Improving Literacy through School Libraries program is a competitive one-year grant program for districts in which at least 20 percent of the students are from families with incomes below the poverty line. In years in which the appropriation exceeds $100 million, the program operates as a state formula program. Then, districts are eligible if 15 percent of their students are from families with incomes below the poverty line; or the percentage of these students is greater than the statewide percentage of children from such families. Districts receiving program funds may use them for such things as purchasing up-to-date school library media resources, including books and advanced technology, providing professional development for school library media specialists, and providing students with access to school libraries during nonschool hours, weekends, and vacations.
If the appropriation exceeds $100 million, states will assist districts in meeting program requirements and in using scientifically based research to implement effective school library media programs. States also will evaluate the quality and impact of district activities, and determine the need for technical assistance and whether or not to continue funding districts.
How It Achieves Quality
As districts plan their library improvement efforts, they are required to use programs and materials that are grounded in scientifically based research. They are also required to conduct a needs assessment to clearly identify the areas in which their school library media centers require improvement.
How Performance Is Measured
Districts submit to the secretary annual reports that describe program activities and the extent to which their school library media resources were made more available and used more. In years in which the program is state-administered, states compile district reports and submit them to the secretary. In addition, a national evaluation is to be conducted on program effectiveness within three years after passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, and biennially thereafter.
Key Activities For The State Education Agencies
State education agencies (SEAs) must:
- Submit a plan, application, and reports to the U.S. Department of Education and administer the formula grant portion of the program if funded at $100 million or higher.
- Cooperate with the competitive grant program recipients in the state when the appropriation is less than $100 million.