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.
…[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.
The wider spectrum of activities involved in true collaboration between school librarians and classroom teachers demonstrates an impact at the high school level, particularly through the links between those activities and eleventh-grade test scores. On a weekly basis, at the typical responding high school, library staff spends:three hours identifying materials for teacherstwo hours planning with teachers,one hour motivating students to read,one hour teaching with teachersalmost an hour serving on school committees, andhalf an hour meeting with library staff from another school or districtWhen library staff spends more time on these activities, ACT scores increase an average of three to four percent over the scores for schools with less collaborative library staff.
At every grade level, schools with more library and library-connected computers—particularly, in the latter case, Internet computers relative to the school’s enrollment—average higher test scores. The presence of more library computers is associated with percentage increases of:8 percent for fifth-and-eighth grade ISAT reading performancealmost 11 percent for eighth-grade ISAT writing performancejust over 5 percent for eleventh-grade ACT scores.
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.
whose staff are actively involved leaders in their school’s teaching and learning enterprise. A successful LMS is one who has the ear and support of the principal, serves with other teachers on the school’s standards and curriculum committees, and holds regular meetings of the LM staff. Students succeed where the LMS participates with classroom teachers and administrators in making management decisions that encourage higher levels of achievement by every student
whose staff have collegial, collaborative relationships with classroom teachers. A successful LMS is one who works with a classroom teacher to identify materials that best support and enrich an instructional unit, is a teacher of essential information literacy skills to students, and, indeed, is a provider of in-service training opportunities to classroom teachers. Students succeed where the LMS is a consultant to, a colleague with, and a teacher of other teachers.
that embraces networked information technology. The library media center of today is no longer a destination; it is a point of departure for accessing the information resources that are the essential raw material of teaching and learning. Computers in classrooms, labs and other school locations provide networked access to information resource—the library catalog, electronic full text, licensed databases, locally mounted databases, and the Internet. Students succeed where the LM program is not a place to go, apart from other sites of learning in the school, but rather an integral part of the educational enterprise that reaches out to students and teachers where they are.
Strong correlations between test scores and the instructional roles regularly provided by library media specialists at the high school level also offer some indicators for certified staff and their administrative supervisors about how to allocate library work time. Providing reference assistance, instructing students in research strategies, use of resources and information literacy; and communicating proactively with the principal were among those activities that were most strongly related to student achievement.
…[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.
At the high school level, the library factor accounted for 19% of the variance in English Language Arts CST scores and 21% of the variance in U.S. History CST scores. In both cases, Beta weights indicated that the library factor was a stronger predictor of scores than other school variable; in fact, the library factor was stronger than either school or community factors in predicting U.S. History CST scores.