Written by Gi Hallmark
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and CMS Library Cards for Young Students Partnership on Target for Success
Research shows that a child’s reading proficiency by 3rd grade is one of the most important, if not the most important, predictor of high school and career success. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading reports that students who do not meet this critical milestone are more likely to struggle in later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma.
Even if the consequences are not as grave as dropping out, not reading proficiently can have a snowball effect on a student’s ability to master complex subject matter, which can impede self-esteem, drain school resources, and cause missed opportunities.
Though schools bear the weight of responsibility to help children meet reading proficiency, an engaged community is crucial in supporting this goal. Herein Charlotte, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library have entered into a new strategic partnership to support student success.
The first initiative, which began during the 2014-2015 school year, has a mission to supply library cards to students in Pre-K to 3rd grade. The program is off to a great start with approximately 25,000 participants. So far, 14,116 students have signed up for a new library card and more than 10,000 students with existing cards now have a better sense of how to use them to support their education.
David Singleton, Director of Libraries for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, notes, “We know that early learning is key to educational success, and this partnership means that all participating students and their parents will now have access to thousands of books, magazines, online learning, and other resources that support success in the classroom. We are grateful for the tremendous coordination in every classroom and all local public libraries that has made this project possible.”
“Our partnership with CMS to increase library card ownership among students from pre-kindergarten through third grade in Mecklenburg County reflects the latest research and the community’s wishes for libraries and schools to work together,” said Library CEO Lee Keesler. “Recent findings from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life survey found that 85 percent of Americans 16 and older believe that libraries should definitely coordinate more closely with local schools.”
CMS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ann Clark agrees, “Our teachers help instill the spark and the desire for learning, while libraries provide the opportunity for students to continue to practice those skills and obtain additional books and materials. When schools and libraries work together, the community wins.”
Later in the school year, the partners will be piloting the second initiative, a Library “eCard” program for students in grades 6-12 in the Project L.I.F.T community.