The Maryland Book Bank has developed the Home Library Program for elementary schools in Baltimore City, specifically targeting second grade students. The program has proven to be extremely effective in raising reading scores on the NWEA test for participating students.
Children who participated in the program received five age appropriate books per month. The distribution began shortly after the NWEA tests were administered in October 2012 and continued until May 2013. The NWEA tests were administered again in March and the results for children who received the books were significantly better than those who did not receive the books.
Two participating schools, Hampstead Hill Academy and Wolfe Street Academy of the Baltimore Curriculum Project agreed to provide access to test scores in order for us to measure the academic impact of having a home library. The test results were 17% higher on average for those who received books. The most significant increases were among boys who have traditionally been a difficult group to encourage reading and improve test scores.
In 2015 the Maryland Book Bank has worked to expand this program to include five more schools in the most challenged neighborhoods. We are asking participating schools to monitor standardized reading test results in order to further gauge the success of the program.
Why are we doing this? Simple. Children in low income homes have between zero and two age-appropriate books in the home, while children from middle income homes have an average of 54 age-appropriate books. By the third grade, middle income children have been read to for an average of 1,000 hours, while lower income students have only been read to for an average of 100 hours. The result is lower proficiency by the third grade and a 16% higher school drop-out rate among these students when they reach high school.
The children in our program will finish the school year with just as many books as their middle income counterparts, and be better equipped for the school year and beyond, bringing them one step closer to reading proficiency by the third grade. The long term results are increased time spent reading, better reading skills, and a much greater chance of graduating from high school based on statistics.
We hope to be a greater resource to Baltimore City schools and the community. It is our vision to expand the Home Library Program to first grade students and become more widely available to more students in order to help improve reading proficiency and reading test scores in Baltimore City.
Statistics from Ensuring Success for Young Children: Early Childhood Literacy- Association of Small Foundations