High School (Teen) Talking Point #10

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.

FCAT and ACT scores are significantly higher where there is increased library usage

Both high school FCAT [Florida's Comprehensive Assessment Test] and ACT scores are significantly higher where there is increased library usage (visits by individuals to the library media center).

High schools with more library visits, 11th grade ACT scores higher

…[R]esponding high schools report 16 weekly group visits, 10 of which are for information literacy instruction… For high schools that average more individual and group visits as well as more group visits for information literacy instruction, eleventh-grade ACT score gains averaged three to five percent over schools with less frequently visited libraries.

Librarians take time to get to know their at-risk students

While working in collaborative partnerships with teachers, librarians may also take time to get to know their at-risk students by applying specific strategies that meet individual student needs. These strategies include:Developing library collections that include universally designed resources on a variety of levels and in a variety of formats to meet the unique needs and learning styles of at-risk learners (examples include bilingual titles, graphic novels, and interactive books)Developing library collections that include culturally relevant curriculum materials based on students’ backgrounds, languages, experiences, and interestsProviding opportunities for students to become engaged and feel successful in their reading (examples include book clubs, reader’s theater, poetry slams, and Teen Read Week)Educating themselves about at-risk students and providing information literacy instruction and library services that can be customized to their learning needsMaking the library a welcoming and supportive place for students to come before, during, and after school by including comfortable reading areas, posters, and creative signageInvolving the community by encouraging active participation from parents and community leaders through programming and/or tutoring services

Libraries can meet the needs of at-risk students

With the increasingly diverse educational needs of all students, it takes a team of professional to ensure student success. School librarians can be integral members of these professional teams. Through collaborative activities, libraries can meet the needs of at-risk students by working to implement strategies designed to help them experience academic success and prevent them from dropping out of school.

Michigan High School Libraries Affect Reading Scores

Increases in eleventh grade reading scores are usually reported by Michigan high school libraries that have: higher numbers and weekly hours of librarian and total library staff; more total weekly hours of operation, and more weekly hours for flexible access/scheduling; librarian spending more time supporting school computer networks; larger collections of print volumes and video materials; and access to more 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; and more frequent individual visits to the library [#9, #10]; and more money for library operations [#13].

Participation in library programs for kids has been rising steadily

Participation in library programs for kids under 18 has been rising steadily in recent years, from almost 35.6 million/year in 1993, to 54.6 million/year in 2005, to 60.9 million/year in 2008 (the last year for which these statistics are available).

Public libraries can help students prepare for the demands of college life

Public libraries can help students prepare for the demands of college life. High schools are too focused on test taking and covering material to prepare students for the demands of college life. Key cognitive strategies needed for a smooth transition into college include: intellectual openness; inquisitiveness; analysis; interpretation; evidence-based reasoning and argumentation; and problem solving. Unfortunately, the development of these strategies “is often overshadowed by an instructional focus on the de-contextualized content and facts necessary to pass exit examinations.” Academic knowledge and skills such as writing and research skills, as well as the skills that come from deep exposure to content areas such as math, social studies, English, science, and foreign languages are also given short shrift in today’s high school classrooms, which are focused on moving quickly through subject matter. Academic behaviors that students need to be ready for college include independent time management and independent study skills. They also need contextual skills and awareness to figure out how to complete college and financial aid applications and handle personal finances, as well as life skills necessary for surviving the transition from the highly structured world of high school to the independence of college. Jobs (paid and unpaid) and other experiences at the public library can help prepare teens for the demands of college life.

School librarians collaborate with the educational team

Using their knowledge of the overall curriculum, technological expertise, and the ability to locate resources, school librarians are in a unique position to collaborate with the educational team to teach and evaluate at-risk students… Furthermore, caring and compassionate librarians can make school libraries places where at-risk students’ differences are acknowledged and respected.

Teens are regular and enthusiastic patrons

Teens are regular and enthusiastic patrons who continue to visit and utilize the public library at increasingly greater rates. In a 2007 poll, it was found that one-third of teens between the ages of 12–18 visited the public library ten times a year or more. Seventy-eight percent of teens who consider themselves “regular library visitors” borrow books and other materials for personal use from the public library on a frequent basis. Computer and online games have become part of the mix at many public libraries, and some use gaming to attract new patrons. Libraries’ response to gaming demonstrates the institutions’ flexibility and willingness to innovate in their response to changing audience interests. The Public Library Association’s 2007 Public Library Data Service Statistical Report, which tracked young adult service trends in public libraries, found that nearly 90% of the public libraries surveyed offer young adult services; over half (51.9%) employ at least one full-time equivalent staff person dedicated to fostering young adult programs and services. Compare this to 1994, when just 11% of libraries had a young adult librarian; 58% of librarians considered the lack of staff a barrier to increasing services for young adults and 61% indicated that insufficient services, resources, and programs were moderate or major barriers to increasing services and resources for young adults.

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.

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.

Significant relationship between reading levels and endorsed librarian staffing

There is a positive and statistically significant relationship between advanced reading levels and endorsed librarian staffing trendsSchools that either maintained or gained an endorsed librarian between 2005 and 2011 tended to have more students scoring advanced in reading in 2011 and to have increased their performance more since 2005 (45% and 49%, respectively) than schools that either lost their librarians or never had one ( 33% and 29%). Conversely, schools that either lost a librarian during that period or never had one (33% and 39%) tended to have fewer students scoring advanced in 2011 and to have seen lesser gains—or indeed, losses—since 2005 than schools that maintained or gained a librarian (23% and 18%).

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.