Imagination Library linked to school performance

Scientific studies have now confirmed what we have always suspected about Imagination Library:

  • Participating children are better prepared for kindergarten, and the earlier they’re enrolled, the better.
  • The effect lingers: participating children score higher on third grade reading tests

In Michigan, the Great Start Collaborative commissioned a study by Michigan State University of the children entering kindergarten in Jackson County and their scores on assessments. The study found that:

  • Composite scores were significantly higher for children who had been enrolled in Imagination Library.
  • The length of time enrolled in Imagination Library was an even stronger predictor of better outcomes than mere “yes/no” participation in Imagination Library.
  • Boys who participated in both Imagination Library and preschool had higher composite scores than boys enrolled only in Imagination Library. That difference did not show up for girls.

All results were controlled for the effects of child gender, free lunch status (a proxy for family income), prior school experience, and special needs status.

In 2009, Knox County Schools in Tennessee studied their entering kindergartners. Children enrolled in Imagination Library performed better on fall kindergarten assessments than children not enrolled. In the spring, when these kindergartners were assessed again, the Imagination Library advantage was still statistically significant, but not by the same margins.  In both cases, a higher percentage of Imagination Library students were in the “passing” categories and a lower percentage in the “does not meet expectations” categories.

Three years later, the school district checked back with these students after they took third grade reading tests. The report concludes:

The bottom line and the answer to our research question is, “Yes”. The Imagination Library Alumni continue to perform better than their peers. … How significant is the difference? Very significant.

We also saw that this difference exhibited itself over almost every demographic category of student indicating its universal aspect. We also saw that this difference in scores played out into a difference in proficiency and passing levels between the two groups.

Each of these studies opens doors for further research, but all are quite clear: Imagination Library is proven to prepare our children for kindergarten, and the effects linger over time.

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