Kindergarten-Middle School Talking Point #12

Recognized connection between students' academic achievement and the library media program

Principals, teachers, library media specialists, and students recognize the connection between students academic achievement and the skills and knowledge students derive from the library media program… The program gives students research and information technology tools and skills that they can use in all content areas. It develops their critical thinking ability and opens their eyes to a wide range of resources and information. It increases interest in reading and excitement about learning.

An accessible high-quality collection correlates positively with reading comprehension and vocabulary

… [H]aving an accessible high-quality collection correlates positively with reading comprehension and vocabulary, but it is not sufficient for overall academic achievement as measured by API [Academic Performance Index] scores. For that latter to occur, teaching and administrative principles also need to be implemented.

Collaborative Planning and Instruction correlated with student academic achievement

Collaborative planning and instruction accounted for 17.7 percent of the variance in principles correlated with student academic achievement. The individual principles included: collaborative planning (the single most important factor within that factor), modeling effective teaching, integration of information literacy, facilities for learning, program planning assessment of student academic achievement, administrative support, and communication about the program.

School libraries boost students' confidence as information seekers

Ninety percent of the students recognized that the school library had helped to boost their confidence as proficient information seekers and users, enabling them to work independently; 91.8% of the students appreciated the school library’s help regarding working out the most important information, and sorting and analyzing information.

Higher reading scores for elementary schools whose school libraries:

Fourth grade reading scores tend to be higher for Michigan elementary schools whose school libraries report:higher numbers and weekly hours of total library staff and librarians in particular;being open more hours per week;library staff spending more time on motivating readers, developing collections, meeting with other librarians, teaching information literacy skills, and planning with teachers;larger collections of print volumes and video materials and, to a lesser extent, audio materials and software packages;more availability of computers—both in the library and throughout the school—that provide links to Access Michigan, library catalogs and licensed databases, and the Internet and the World Wide Web;more group visits, more individual and group visits for information literacy instruction, and higher circulation per week; andspending more on library operations.

High performing school librarieshave more group visits and more circulation per week

School libraries seeing more group visits per week and more items circulation per week, were more likely to be at higher achieving schools… High performing school libraries received an average of 19.9 student group visits per week versus 13.8 at low performing school libraries. Teacher-librarians at high performing schools had an average of 13.1 information skills group contacts per week versus 8.3 at low performing schools. And circulation numbers were 42% higher at schools with better school achievement.

School libraries correlate to higher student achievement

Findings from a study among schools in British Columbia reinforce previous research suggesting that an easily accessed, well-funded, well-staffed, well-managed, well-stocked, integrated and heavily used school library correlated to higher student achievement.

School library media specialists in “A” elementary schools:

School library media specialists in “A” elementary schools Are more likely to work with individuals visiting the media center than with groups. Spend more time planning for lessons taught independently of teachers. Spend more time working collaboratively and teaching with teachers. Spend more time involved in reading incentive activities and programs.

School library helps students' learning process

Delaware, 2005: 98.2% of students were helped in their learning process by the school library when they had access to a full-time librarian, information literacy instruction, flexible scheduling and networked ICT [Information and Communications Technology].

Students whose library media specialists played an instructional role achieve higher test scores

Students whose library media specialists played an instructional role—either by identifying materials to be used with teacher-planned instructional units or by collaborating with teachers in planning instructional units—tend to achieve higher average test scores

Library variables affects test scores at all educational levels

TAAS [Texas Assessment of Academic Skills] performance was associated with different library factors at each educational level. Library variables found to be important were: Elementary School [K/MS]:Library volumes purchased in 1999-00 per 100 studentsLibrary operational expenditures per studentLibrary computers connected to a modem per 100 studentsLibrary software packages per 100 studentsMiddle/Junior High [K/MS]:Identifying materials fo instructional units developed by teachersProviding information skills instruction to individuals or groupsHigh School [T]:Library staff per 100 studentsLibrary staff hours per 100 studentsLibrary hours of operation per 100 studentsVolumes per studentsCurrent subscriptions to magazines and newspapers per 100 studentsPlanning instructional units with teachersProviding staff development to teachers

School librarians advocate the development of independent, lifelong learners

The development of independent, lifelong learners has long been an advocacy point of school librarians. They have focused on learners who have skills and interest for engaging with information out of school, for personal interest and ideas discovery and solving school-based and personal problems they encounter where information is needed in the process. 78.7% of students indicated that the school library helps them discover interesting topics other than their school work.

The librarian has helped to develop the love of books

The autobiographies affirmed that the librarian has helped to develop the love of books and the sense of connectedness that students need in order to “want” to read. This in turn leads to choice reading, vocabulary increase, higher fluency and the ability to demonstrate those skills in a variety of ways. The individuals in the role of librarian have a huge impact on this willingness and interest in reading.

The presence of a teacher-librarian influences reading enjoyment

The presence of a teacher-librarian was the single strongest predictor of reading enjoyment for both grades 3 and 6 students.

Library use differs between successful and unsuccessful schools

… [T]he results indicated that the way libraries were used differed between successful and unsuccessful schools. Successful schools schedule more class time in the library, spend more time allowing students to check out materials, have more individual student research hours, offer more time for reading incentive programs like Accelerated Reader, are used more frequently by faculty members for professional growth and classroom support, and are open more hours beyond the school day.

These Library Variables Affect MCAS Scores

The findings from our study can be roughly summarized by educational level as follows:At each grade level school library programs improve MCAS [Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System] scores.At each grade level students score higher on MCAS tests when there is a higher per pupil book count.At each grade level student use of the library produces higher mean MCAS score;At each level hours open make a difference in MCAS scores.

Schools with above average reading scores frequently have full-time media specialists

In Minnesota schools with above average student scores on the Grade 3, 5, and 8 reading tests, 66.8% were schools where the media specialist worked full-time. Twice as many schools with above average scores had full-time media specialists. Student reading achievement in elementary and secondary schools is related to increases in school library media program spending.

Negative relationship between unsatisfactory reading levels and endorsed librarian staffing

There is a negative and statistically significant relationship between unsatisfactory reading levels and endorsed librarian staffing trends.Schools that either maintained or gained an endorsed librarian between 2005 and 2011 tended to have fewer students scoring unsatisfactory in reading in 2011 (i.e., lower scores) (28% and 26%, respectively) and to have reduced that problem more since 2005 (i.e., lower increase) than schools that either lost their librarians or never had one (both at 34%). Conversely, schools that either lost a librarian during this period or never had one (32% and 34%) tended to have more students scoring unsatisfactory in 2011 and to have seen that problem increase more since 2005 than schools that maintained or gained a librarian (21% and 30%).Notably, schools with the largest percentage of lower unsatisfactory reading scores in 2011 and lower increases in that figure between 2005 and 2011 (34%) were those that gained an endorsed librarian during the interval. As with advanced reading scores, if an endorsed librarian is doing her or his job well, this is what one would expect.

Reading scores rise with a full-time endorsed librarian

In 2011, schools with at least one FTE [ full-time equivilent] endorsed librarian averaged significantly higher advanced CSAP reading scores (8% vs. 6%) and significantly lower unsatisfactory scores (9% vs. 11%) than schools with less than one FTE endorsed librarian [a library assistant or non-endorsed librarian]. 

Librarians positively correlate with reading scores with poverty as control variable

In this instance, both endorsed and non-endorsed librarians were positively correlated with advanced CSAP reading scores and negatively correlated with unsatisfactory scores. In other words, with poverty utilized as a control variable, both endorsed and non-endorsed librarians had positive and statistically significant correlations with reading scores. Notably, however, these relationships are stronger for endorsed librarians than non-endorsed ones. What did not change was the lack of relationship between non-endorsed library assistants working without a librarian and reading scores. Apparently, library assistants working without supervision do not have any impact on reading scores, either advanced or unsatisfactory.

Association of librarians with higher reading scores cannot be explained away by economic conditions

As in earlier state-level school library impact studies and the SLJ national study, the association of endorsed librarians with higher reading scores cannot be explained away by local economic conditions.

Research consistent: students perform better with an endorsed librarian

The research on school librarians and their association with students’ test scores is remarkably consistent in its findings: regardless of how rich or poor a community is, students tend to perform better on reading tests where, and when, their library programs are in the hands of endorsed librarians. Furthermore, at schools where library programs gain or maintain an endorsed librarian when school budgets get tight, students tend to excel. At schools where library programs lose or never had an endorsed librarian, students suffer as a result.