Kindergarten–Middle School 6–12

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Talking Points for
School Libraries

14. Students are more likely to be successful academically if they have the benefit of library media program led by a state-certified school library media specialist.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

At the elementary level, four out of five schools (over 80 percent) with full-time librarians had more students who earned proficient or above proficient test scores on the CAT5 tests for reading, language arts, and mathematics. (Lance, Hamilton-Pennell and Rodney 2000)

…[R]esults of this study indicate that as the overall percentage of library media specialists at a grade level increases, so does the strength of the association between school library program elements and student achievement. (Achterman 2008)

A library media center should be staffed by an endorsed library media specialist who is involved not only in identifying materials suitable for school curricula, but also in collaborating with teachers and others in developing curricula. This involvement in the instructional process helps to shape a larger—and, presumably, more appropriate—local collection. Students who score higher on norm-referenced tests tend to come from schools where this instructional role is more prominent. (Lance, Welborn and Hamilton-Pennell 1993)

When LM predictors are maximized (e.g., staffing, expenditures, and information resources and technology), CSAP reading scores tend to run 18 percent higher in fourth grade and 10 to 15 percent higher in seventh. (Lance, Rodney and Hamilton-Pennell 2000a)

For elementary schools that have at least one full-time endorsed librarian, the percentage of third, fourth, and fifth grade students scoring proficient or advanced in reading is consistently higher than for schools with lower staffing levels—a 4 to 5 percent absolute difference and a 6 to 8 percent proportional difference. (Francis, Lance and Lietzau 2010)

It is clear from the findings that there are some highly effective school libraries in Delaware—school libraries that are strongly integrated into the learning fabric of the school and which contribute to student learning outcomes. These school libraries have a common set of characteristics:

  • a state-certified, full time, library media specialist in the building;
  • the availability of para-professional staff who undertake routine administrative tasks and free the library media specialist to undertake instructional initiatives and reading literacy initiatives
(Todd 2005)

Library media specialists (LMSs) exert a complex web of effects on the LM programs. Findings about these effects are summed up in the following description of a strong LM program. A strong LM program is one ...that is adequately staffed, stocked, and funded. Minimally, this means one full-time library media specialist (LMS) and one full-time aide. The relationship, however, is incremental; as the staffing, collections and funding of LM programs grow, reading scores rise. (Rodney, Lance and Hamilton-Pennell 2002)

… The Librarian Qualifications component was computed by aggregating the relevant questions of the questionnaire. The questionnaire asked a series of questions pertaining to the highest level of education and certification the paid library staff had obtained. The component was composed of one variable for a librarians’ education and experience weighted by the work hours. This analysis shows that the Librarian Qualifications component was significantly correlated with student achievement, represented by the Overall Weighted Average Map Index, when other variables were not present. (Quantitative Resources et al 2004)

Elementary students in schools with certified school librarians are more likely to have higher English and language arts (ELA) scores than those in school with noncertified school librarians. (Small, Shanahan and Stasak 2010)

Library staffing is associated with an increase in grade 3 reading performance....The presence of trained library staff is associated with higher achievement in reading for grade 6 students. (Ontario Library Association 2006)

[Keith Curry Lance’s] finding consistently report that students in schools with well-staffed, -stocked and -funded libraries score from 10% to 25% higher on standardised tests than students in schools with poorly resourced libraries. Furthermore, the more hours that the school library is open, the higher the achievement levels of the students. (Ontario Library Association 2006)

Vitally important is the vision of the library as a classroom and a welcoming place of learning. The teacher-librarians are leaders in their school and outstanding teachers. Both the library and the teacher librarian are recognized as playing a critical role in supporting the educational outcomes of the school.
In schools with these types of libraries, students reported high levels of satisfaction and engagement with their libraries and they were active readers. The majority wanted to have more opportunities to use the school library. (Klinger 2009)

School libraries managed by qualified professional staff and supported by clerical and volunteer staff were more likely to be associated with higher school performance. Libraries with more qualified school librarian hours, more paid clerical and technical staff hours, a larger number of volunteers and total number of staff were more likely to be associated with high school performance. (Haycock 2011)

An abundance of evidence strongly supports the connection between student achievement and the presence of school libraries with qualified school library media specialists. (Scholastic 2008)

Students in better staffed programs [i.e., those with more library media specialists and more LMS hours] scored 8.4 to 21.8 percent higher on ACT English tests and 11.7 to 16.7 percent higher on ACT Reading tests compared to students in schools where library media programs had fewer resources. | (Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2006)

The presence of trained library staff is associated with higher achievement in reading for grade 6 students… approximately 5.5 percentile points higher than the average. | (Ontario Library Association 2006)

At the elementary level, four out of five schools (over 80 percent) with full-time librarians had more students [i.e., average or above] who earned proficient or above proficient test scores on the CAT5 tests for reading, language arts, and mathematics. Among [elementary] schools with only part-time librarians, two out of three (over 65 percent) had more high-achievement students—a lower proportion than for schools with full-time librarians, but a higher one than for schools with no librarian at all. Among the latter group of schools, fewer than three out of five (less than 60 percent) had more high-achievement students. | (Lance, Hamilton-Pennell and Rodney 2000)

Test scores are more than 20% higher in elementary schools where library media staffing is at 80 hours per week or more than in schools with less than 60 hours per week.
At the middle school level, in higher scoring schools, 53.9% of middle schools with more than 80 HPW of library staffing scored at grade level or better while only 46.1% passed in schools with poorer staffing. (Baumbach 2003)

In Florida’s elementary schools, FCAT scores are higher where:

  • There is a certified, university-trained library media specialist.
  • The total number of paid staff is higher and there are more hours per week of staffing.
  • Circulation is higher.
  • Schools have access to the library media center catalog through the school’s computer network.
  • There are more books and videos.
  • There are more computers in the library media center and those computers provide Internet access.
  • There are more non-print materials purchased from the school budget.
In the middle schools, FCAT scores are higher where:
  • There are more certified, university-trained school library media specialists and the library media center is staffed more hours per week.
  • More materials are circulated.
  • There are more videos in the collection and more reference materials on CD-ROM.
  • More computers in the library media center provide access to the Internet.
(Baumbach 2003)

Staff-based library operations and development accounted for 9.6 percent of the variance in principles correlated with student academic achievement. The individual principles included: staffing levels (the single more important factor), library operations, funding, staff development, and LMS-led staff development. (Farmer 2006)