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Michigan students' reading levels fall as school librarians go extinct

Corner of a library with bookshelves and a study table
Blue Mountains Library
Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

This school year, districts in Michigan will start holding back third-graders who are more than one grade level behind in reading.

Michigan students have been sliding down the national rankings of test scores for reading.

At the same time, school librarians are becoming less common in the state.

Kathy Lester is with the American Association of School Librarians.

She told Stateside Monday many school librarian positions were cut during the Great Recession.

“Since school librarians tend to be a single person in their building, it seemed easier to cut those positions than to cut classroom teachers,” Lester said.

Lester says students at schools without librarians are at risk of falling behind academically. She says librarians help students with college and career readiness.

A package of bills currently making its way through the state legislature would require every Michigan school to have school libraries staffed with certified librarians.

“Our Association is supporting those bills and there's a lot of the other organizations that are supporting that as well,” Lester said.

You can hear Lester’s full interview with Stateside above.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Radio. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.
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