Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 26

Running head: LITERACY DEVELOPMENT

Literacy Development in Minority Communities

in the San Francisco Bay Area

Sasha Poor

Palo Alto High School


LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 1

Literacy Development in Minority Communities

in the San Francisco Bay Area

“In reading… those in our highest-poverty schools are performing on a par with children

in the world’s lowest-achieving countries,” (Ali et al., 2013). There is a discrepancy between

achievement in literacy for children in underrepresented populations and other children. Despite

attempts to close the gap, the issue persists. According to the California Assessment of Student

Performance and Progress (CAASPP) website, 44.25% of African American students did not

meet standards in the Smarter Balanced test, while only 16.13% of white students did not meet

standards (2017). A possible cause of this problem is a lack of resources in communities with

large groups of underrepresented populations. Perhaps a study that investigates the accessibility

of literacy in minority communities through a survey of students could offer a solution to the

question “How can PAUSD and Ravenswood School District school libraries be made more

inviting in order to benefit students’ literacy?”.

Literature Review

Even in Silicon Valley, there is an achievement gap between minority students and those

who are not part of a minority. In the Palo Alto Unified School District, minority groups perform

worse on standardized tests than non-minority groups. On the English Language Arts/Literacy

section of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, 9.32% of black students scored in the “Standard

Exceeded” range, while 30.95% of white students scored in the same range (CAASPP, 2017).

Within one school district, there is a noticeable discrepancy between the achievement of non-

minority students and the achievement of students in minorities. Additionally, according to a

report done by the Equity and Excellence Commission created by the U.S. Department of

Education, students in communities that are mainly composed of minorities tend to perform
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 2

worse on exams. The report states that, “in math, the average African American eighth-grader is

performing at the 19th percentile of white students. The average Hispanic student is at the 26th

percentile” (Ali et al., 2013). The report also states that, in minority communities, development

of literacy is not as extensive as in non-minority communities. In addition, even in non-minority

communities, racial isolation can put minority students at a disadvantage. Overall, minority

students in non-minority communities and in minority communities are at an educational

disadvantage, which is reflected in their performance on exams and overall reading literacy.

Literacy development is affected by many aspects of a person’s life. Access to each of

these aspects can change the level of literacy that a person will achieve in their lifetime. Three

main factors that can affect the literacy of a child are metacognitive ability, decoding speed and

prior knowledge (Artelt, Schiefele, & Schneider, 2001). A higher degree of these factors allows

children to perform better on literacy tests and develop their reading literacy further. Access to

books and thematic interest also have an effect on literacy development, although it is less than

the effect of the previously stated factors (Artelt, Schiefele, & Schneider, 2001). Each of these

aspects of a person’s childhood affects their literacy development, and therefore their

achievement in reading assessments. Though this research is 17 years old, no other research has

been published showing a change in these factors. Children’s achievement in reading assessment

is one of the main measures of literacy achievement, meaning these factors affect overall literacy

achievement. In addition, a child’s school environment affects their literacy development.

Teacher quality, access to school supplies, and school financing can affect the reading literacy of

children (Ali et al., 2013). Each of these elements of a child’s education can decrease the level of

reading literacy they reach in their life. Various cognitive abilities, access to resources such as
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 3

books and school supplies, subject interest, teacher quality, and school financing are all factor

that may affect a child’s literacy development.

Many of the factors that affect reading literacy are lower or less accessible in

communities that are mainly composed of minorities or for minorities in communities composed

on non-minorities. According to the Equity and Excellence Commission, minority communities

tend to have underpaid, lower quality teachers, as well as insufficient and lower quality school

supplies (Ali et al., 2013). Because teacher quality is a large factor in the development of reading

literacy in children, this puts minority children at a great disadvantage. Many schools are funded

by donations from the community. However, many minority communities tend to donate less

than non-minority communities (Ali et al., 2013). A lack of funding in minority schools leads to

the issues mentioned earlier. In addition, budgets for school libraries, an easily accessible

resource for books, in minority communities are less than budgets for those in non-minority

communities. For the 2014-15 school year, the Ravenswood City School District had an

expenditure of $1,859,725 (Ravenswood City School District, 2016), while the Palo Alto Unified

School District spent $7,963,458 (Palo Alto Unified School District, n.d.). This great discrepancy

demonstrates the discrepancy in the amount and quality of supplies and books available at

school. These are both aspects that greatly affect reading literacy development in children.

Therefore, children who are raised in minority communities have access to fewer and worse tools

to develop their literacy from a young age, leading to a decreased final level of reading literacy.

Despite this research, there is very little information about the actual accessibility and use of

literature in minority communities. There is also no comparison of those aspects between

minority communities and wealthier or non minority communities. This research project aims to

describe this comparison between accessibility and use of literature in minority and non-minority
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 4

communities, as well as a comparison between what students in each group believe would be the

best to improve their libraries.

Research Methodologies

In order to answer this question, the best approach was an observational study using

action and descriptive research. Descriptive research was used to determine the main

discrepancies in factors affecting literacy between minority and non-minority communities.

Action research was used to propose various solutions to possible issues, for which descriptive

research was used to determine the popularity of each suggested improvement. The population

for this study was students in the Palo Alto and Ravenswood school districts, of which some

middle school classes were sampled to take the survey. Middle school classes have been selected

as students are mature enough to answer questions insightfully and the Ravenswood City School

District does not have a high school. The sample used was compiled through requesting that

middle school teachers in both districts present the survey to students in their classes. The survey

was distributed through a link to a Google Form which was emailed to teachers, who then

presented it to the students in their classes. The data has been stored in a spreadsheet compiled

from the Google Form answers and will be deleted once the research has been completed. At the

beginning of the survey, a disclaimer has been provided, explaining the purpose of the survey

and that the students are under no obligation to answer the survey and may exit it at any time.

The questions were regarding library use, reading habits, and demographic data (see appendix A

for survey questions). This survey collected quantitative and qualitative data from the students.

The survey was completely confidential and anonymous. No personal identifying information

was collected from the participants.

Data analysis comprised inferential statistics, both for quantitative and qualitative data
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 5

(see Appendix B for details). Qualitative data has been assigned a scale, which was used to

determine statistics. To determine discrepancies between the communities, significance tests

were used, with a 0.1 level of significance. In order to determine the efficacy of the proposed

solutions, the percentage of respondents who believed the improvement would be beneficial

were calculated with margins of error using a 90% confidence level.

In order to evaluate the data that was collected, one of the Ravenswood teachers was

emailed. The email included the analyzed data from the survey as well as some questions

regarding the new information that the survey found and how helpful it is (see Appendix B for

questions). This information was then taken as quotes to evaluate the usefulness of the data.

Data, Results, and Findings

Over the course of this study, much data has been collected. The following is a

compilation of the survey responses for most of the survey questions (see Appendix E for full

responses).

First, when students were asked to report how many days per week their libraries were

open, PAUSD students reported an average of 4.9 days, while Ravenswood students reported an

average of 3.9 days per week. When asked to rate how welcoming their school libraries were out

of a scale of 1-5, PAUSD students gave a mean of 4.4, while Ravenswood students gave a mean

of 4.1. When asked to rate how useful their school libraries were on a scale of 1-5, PAUSD

students gave a mean rating of 3.8 and Ravenswood students gave a mean rating of 4. It was

found that 83.2% of PAUSD students read for pleasure and 100% of the Ravenswood students

surveyed read for pleasure.

When asked how many books they read per week, PAUSD students gave a mean of 5.8

books per week, while Ravenswood students gave an average of 1.4 books per week. When
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 6

asked to estimate how many books they have a home, PAUSD students gave an average of 306

books, while Ravenswood students gave an average of 35.

The following are figures representing data collected in response to survey questions

regarding improvements that could be made to school libraries and students’ reading habits.

Figures 1 and 2. Responses from PAUSD and the Ravenswood School District to the

question: Which of the following would make you more likely to read more?

Figures 3 and 4. Responses from PAUSD and the Ravenswood School District to the

question: Which of the following do you think would make your libraries more welcoming?
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 7

Figures 5 and 6. Responses from PAUSD and the Ravenswood School District to the

question: Which of the following do you think would make your libraries more useful?

Figures 7 and 8. Responses from PAUSD and the Ravenswood School District to the

question: Which of the following would make you more likely to use your library?

Discussion, Analysis, and Evaluation

Using significance tests, it was found that theres is statistically significant evidence that

the mean number of days that the PAUSD middle school libraries are open is greater than the

mean number of days that the Ravenswood Middle School library is open. There is also

statistically significant evidence that the mean number of books that PAUSD middle school

students read every week is greater than the mean number of books that Ravenswood Middle

School students read every week and that the mean number of books that PAUSD middle school

students have at home is greater than the mean number of books that Ravenswood Middle

School students have at home.


LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 8

Based on the significance tests, there is not statistically significant evidence that the mean

rating students at PAUSD middle schools give to how welcoming their libraries are is greater

than the mean rating that Ravenswood Middle school students give or that the mean rating

students at PAUSD middle schools give to their school libraries’ usefulness is greater than the

mean rating of Ravenswood Middle School students. There is also not statistically significant

evidence that the proportion PAUSD middle school students who read for pleasure is greater

than the proportion of Ravenswood Middle School students who read for pleasure.

From this it can be determined that students’ perceptions of their libraries are not

significantly different when comparing between PAUSD and Ravenswood middle schools.

However, these tests also show that the reading habits of students at PAUSD and Ravenswood

middle schools are vastly different. While both have large percentages of students who read for

pleasure, the amount of reading they do their access to books at home were shown to be

significantly different.

This indicates that either perceptions of libraries must be better in Ravenswood, due to

the low access to books at home, or that access to books at home must be improved rather than

the perceptions of libraries. If the route to improve perceptions of libraries is taken, the

recommended improvements of students should be taken into account.

Some of these recommendations can be seen in the results of the survey administered

through this study. Including the calculations of margins of error, most PAUSD students said that

more books would make them more likely to read. At 72.05% ± 5.8% choosing it, it was the only

answer that received over 50% approval. For Ravenswood students, more books and more

helpful librarians were the most approved improvements. 70.59% ± 18.2% chose more books

and 76.47% ± 16.98% chose more helpful librarians. These were also the only ones to receive
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT 9

over 50% including the extremes of the margins of error. Thus, it can be determined that more

books are preferred at libraries in both school districts, while more helpful librarians are

preferred only in the Ravenswood School District.

Regarding how to make school libraries more welcoming, new book displays and new

furniture were the two choices that received over 50% from PAUSD students, including the

margins of error. 54.38% ± 6.5% of PAUSD students said that new book displays would make

their school libraries more welcoming, and the same percentage said new furniture would make

libraries more welcoming. From Ravenswood students, new book displays and more librarians

were the two choices that received over 50%. 86.67% ± 14.4% of Ravenswood students said new

book displays would make help, and 66.67% ± 20.1% said more librarians would make their

school libraries more welcoming. Based on this, it can be determined that students from both

districts believe new book displays would make libraries more welcoming. However, the districts

differ in that PAUSD students think new furniture would help, while students at the Ravenswood

district believe more librarians would be an improvement to their libraries.

When asked how to make libraries more useful, PAUSD students preferred more or

newer books and more or newer computers. Both of these options were chosen by over 50% of

students who responded. 70.06% ± 5.8% of PAUSD students believe more or newer books

would make their libraries more useful and 52.69% ± 6.4% believed more or newer computers

would do so. Ravenswood students also chose more or newer computers, as well as more

librarians. 58.82% ± 19.7% of Ravenswood students also chose more or newer computers as a

way to improve their libraries’ usefulness, while 47.06% ± 19.97% chose more librarians. While

this was not over 50%, the margin of error was above that mark. This means that both PAUSD

students and Ravenswood students believe their libraries could be made more useful by
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
10

improving the selection of books. On the other hand, only PAUSD students believed computers

could improve their libraries, while Ravenswood students thought an addition of librarians would

help.

With respect to how often students use their libraries, the result was similar. PAUSD

students selected more or newer books and a greater variety of genres as their preferred

improvements to their libraries. Out of the PAUSD students, 75.63% ± 5.6% chose more or

newer books and 63.13% ± 6.3% said a greater variety of genres would make them more likely

to use their libraries. Both of these were the only two that over 50% of the students chose. When

Ravenswood students were asked, most of them said that more or newer books and more

librarians would be the best improvements. According to the margin of error calculations,

70.59% ± 18.2% of Ravenswood middle school students believe more or newer books would

make them more likely to use their libraries, and 52.94% ± 19.97% of them believe more

librarians would do so. This means that both Ravenswood and PAUSD students believe more or

newer books would make them more likely to use their libraries. The difference in their

responses is that PAUSD students believed a greater variety of genres would make them use

their library more, while Ravenswood students believed more librarians would do so.

Overall, both PAUSD and Ravenswood students believed that more books and new book

displays would be the best improvements to their libraries. More books was chosen by over 50%

of Ravenswood and PAUSD students in every question in which it was offered. Students from

both districts suggested more or newer computers as a preferred improvement to their libraries’

usefulness, with over 50% of them choosing that option in the one question where it was offered.

New book displays was also selected by over 50% of students from both districts in the question

that offered it. PAUSD students also selected a greater variety of genres as a preferred
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
11

improvement, which is similar to the option of more or newer books. They also selected new

furniture as a way to make their school libraries more welcoming, as opposed to Ravenswood

students, of whom a majority did not choose this. Ravenswood students repeatedly chose more

librarians or more helpful librarians as a preferred improvement. Over 50% of Ravenswood

students selected this option in every question of the survey regarding improvements, while it

was never chosen by over 50% of PAUSD students.

While their views of their school libraries are quite similar, Ravenswood School District

and PAUSD students have differences in their preferred improvements to the libraries. Some of

the options chosen by over 50% of students were the same, however there were differences in at

least one of the choices selected for each survey question. The research question can be answered

by the improvements that students recommended in the survey. It can be concluded that the best

ways to make school libraries in PAUSD and the Ravenswood School District are to add more

books and more computers. A specific improvement to the PAUSD libraries would be newer

furniture, and an improvement specific to the Ravenswood School District libraries would be

more librarians to help students. The students who responded to the survey determined that these

would improve their reading habits and library use habits, thus improving their literacy

achievement later in life.

For the evaluation of the data, the teacher stated that the information provided by the

survey gives new insight to how the students view their school libraries. The teacher said that she

found that “They like it [the library], but don't necessarily love it and find that it needs

improvement,” a new perspective for her. She also said that the results from the survey gave her

some ideas for how specific ways the library could be improved. Some of these ideas included

extending the library’s hours, adding more comfortable furniture, and giving out free books to
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
12

the students. The fact that the survey did provide new information regarding library use in

PAUSD and the Ravenswood school district shows that the study did provide new information

and thus was a helpful addition to previous research that has been done.

Conclusions, Implications, and Next Steps

Based on the data that was collected during this study, it cannot be concluded that there is

a significant difference in students’ perceptions of their school libraries in the PAUSD and

Ravenswood school districts. This counters the idea that their school libraries are of significantly

different quality. However, there is a significant difference in the reading habits of those

students, as expected from the discrepancy in literacy achievement. This is consistent with the

idea that access to books and the amount of reading that children do is correlated to their

achievement in literacy. Thus, it can be concluded that either libraries in the Ravenswood School

District must be improved more than the libraries in PAUSD in order to counter the lack of

access to books at home or libraries should not be the target when trying to improve literacy

achievement in minority communities.

It can also be concluded that, in order to improve libraries and their usage in the

Ravenswood School District, new books could be added and more librarians could be hired. This

information can be used by others looking to research the literacy gap and ways to close it. It

could also be used by others who choose to implement these changes directly in order to improve

the libraries, including people within the Ravenswood School District or in the community of the

San Francisco Bay Area. These changes could then be researched through more action research

to determine whether these changes are truly effective in increasing library use and literacy

achievement. This could be used as the next phase of this study, researching the effects of these

changes and going further to evaluate the success of this study.


LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
13

Though inferential statistics were used to determine how this survey’s results could be

applied to the entire population of middle schoolers in PAUSD and the Ravenswood School

District, there were some weaknesses in the data. While the sample size for PAUSD students was

around 165 for each question, the sample for Ravenswood students was significantly smaller, at

around 17 students. Some of the teachers did not reply to the emails that were sent about

administering surveys, which led to a smaller sample than was expected. It also led to not having

a random sample, which could have led to a sampling bias. These flaws should have been

substantially mitigated through the significance testing and margin of error calculations, but they

could still have had some effect on the conclusions drawn from the data.

The extension of this into a study of the effects of the implementation of the proposed

changes would help to remedy these possible errors. By doing this study, the results of the survey

could either be reinforced or refuted. This would allow for either a stronger conclusion or an

opportunity for further study. Either way, the continuation of this investigation would allow for

more insight regarding possible improvements to be made to school libraries in order to improve

literacy achievement.

The next step of this study should be to implement some of the recommended changes to

the libraries in the Ravenswood School District and study the effect that has on reading habits

and literacy achievement. This would help to fully determine what changes would be effective, if

any, and help focus the efforts of people and organizations hoping to decrease the literacy gap in

the San Francisco Bay Area through the improvement of school libraries.
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
14

References

Ali, R., Brown, C., Casserly, M., Cuéllar, M.-F., Darling-Hammond, L., Glenn, S. D., …

Williams, D. T. (2013). For each and every child—A strategy for education equity and

excellence, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from:

https://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/eec/equity-excellence-commission-report.pdf

Artelt, C., Schiefele, U., & Schneider, W. (2001). Predictors of reading literacy.

European Journal of Psychology of Education, 16(3), 363-383. Retrieved from

https://www-jstor-org.ez.pausd.org/stable/23420339

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. (2017). [Bar chart and

tables divided by section of test and various other categories]. 2017 Smarter Balanced

results for state of California. https://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2017/ViewReport?

ps=true&lstTestYear=2017&lstTestType=B&lstGroup=1&lstCounty=00&lstDistrict=00

000&lstSchool=0000000

Palo Alto Unified School District. (2017, July 20). 2017-18 budget book. Retrieved from:

https://www.pausd.org/financial-services/budget-book

Ravenswood Elementary School District. (2016, September 16). Adopted budget —

Fiscal year 2016-17. Retrieved from: http://www.smcoe.org/assets/cecc/district-budget-

information/fy-2016-2017/Budget_Board_Letter/D17_Ravenswood_City_Board_Letter-

2016-17_Adopted_Budget.pdf
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
15

Appendix A

Survey Questions

Introduction: This survey is part of a high school research project about literacy development

based on accessibility to literacy in the Bay Area. This survey will be used to determine

differences in book and library access between students from different schools and school

districts. If you do not wish to take this survey, you may exit at any time by closing the tab. You

are not obligated to answer any of these questions. You may answer as many questions as you

would like to and leave any questions blank if you would prefer not to answer them. However, if

you do choose to answer these questions, please try to be as truthful as possible.

- Proceed

Libraries:

1. How many days a week is your school library open?

a. 0

b. 1

c. 2

d. 3

e. 4

f. 5

2. How welcoming is your library?

a. 1 (not welcoming at all)

b. 2

c. 3
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
16

d. 4

e. 5 (very welcoming)

3. How useful is your library?

a. 1 (not useful at all)

b. 2

c. 3

d. 4

e. 5 (very useful)

4. How often do you use your library?

a. Less than once a month

b. Once or twice a month

c. Once a week

d. More than once a week

5. What do you use your library for?

a. School reading

b. Research

c. Pleasure reading

d. Study space

e. Schoolwork help

Personal book habits:

1. Do you read for pleasure?

a. Yes
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
17

b. No

2. What genre(s) of books do you read? (select all that apply)

a. Fantasy

b. Realistic fiction

c. Poetry

d. Science fiction

e. Graphic novels

f. Informational

g. (Auto)biography

h. Literary fiction

3. How many books do you read a month? (please provide a number)

a. ________

4. How many books do you estimate you have at your house? (please provide a number)

a. __________

Improvements:

1. Which of the following would make you more likely to read more? (select all that apply)

a. More welcoming libraries

b. More useful libraries

c. More helpful librarians

d. More books at home

e. More books at your library

f. Longer library hours


LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
18

2. Which of the following do you think would make your library more welcoming? (select

all that apply)

a. New furniture

b. New book displays

c. More librarians

d. Longer hours

3. Which of the following do you think would make your library more useful? (select all

that apply)

a. More/newer books

b. More/newer computers

c. More librarians

d. Longer hours

4. Which of the following would make you more likely to use your library? (select all that

apply)

a. More variety of book genres

b. More/newer books

c. More librarians

d. Longer hours

Personal information:

1. What grade are you in?

a. 6th

b. 7th
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
19

c. 8th

2. What school do you go to?

a. ____________
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
20

Appendix B

Questions for evaluation of study

● Does this data give you new insight regarding how students view their libraries?

● Does this data give you new insight regarding what improvements could be made to their

libraries?

● Does this data give you any ideas for how you or your school could work to improve

reading habits?

● Is there anything else you notice from this data?


LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
21

Appendix C

Statistical significance calculations

Means: using 2-SampTTest

σ1 = Standard deviation of PAUSD answers

σ2= Standard deviation of Ravenswood answers

x̄1= Mean of PAUSD answers

x̄2= Mean of Ravenswood answers

n1= Sample size of PAUSD answers

n2= Sample size of Ravenswood answers

Test for: μ1>μ2

Proportions: using 2-PropZTest

x1= Number of PAUSD responses for specific choice

n1= Total number of PAUSD responses

x2= Number of Ravenswood responses for specific choice

n2= Total number of PAUSD responses

Test for: p1>p2


LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
22

Appendix D

Margin of error calculations

Proportions

ME=z ⋅ √ ❑

ME = Margin of error for percentage of students who chose one particular improvement

z = z-score for 90% confidence level (1.645

p = Proportion of students who chose one particular improvement

n = Total number of students who replied to the question


LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
23

Appendix E

All survey answers compiled in a spreadsheet (some answers removed due to improbable

answers or blank answers). Green = answers below are from PAUSD. Yellow = answers below

are from Ravenswood School District.


LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
24
LITERACY DEVELOPMENT
25

Оценить