National Center for Education Statistics study confirms library use increases test scores

Contact: Andrea Parker
American Association of School Librarians
312-280-1396 phone
312-664-7459 fax

Denise Davis
ALA Office of Research and Statistics
312-280-4273 phone

For Immediate Release
February 10, 2005

National Center for Education Statistics study

confirms library use increases test scores

CHICAGO - The U.S. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released some of the findings from a longitudinal study of 10th graders. In its report "School Library Media Centers: Selected results from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002)," NCES provides an overview of the current state of school library media centers that serve U.S. 10th-graders.
NCES studied a sample of 15,525 10th graders in 752 schools in the United States.
A study of 12th graders currently is underway.

Reported findings show seventy-six percent of U.S. school libraries had state certified librarians on staff in 2003, 96 percent reported Internet access in the library, 88 percent had reference databases, 56 percent had academic subject databases and 80 percent of students reported school library reference materials to be useful or very useful.

Additional findings include:

  • Students in the lowest quartile of composite test scores make less focused use of library resources.
  • Students in the middle and highest three quartiles of composite test scores reported higher use of library resources for assignments, in-school projects and research papers.
  • Seventy-nine percent of students reported library staff to be helpful or very helpful with finding research resources.
  • Schools with fewer than 400 students were less likely to have state-certified librarians on staff.
    Catholic and other private schools were less likely than public schools to have state certified librarians on staff.
    The Western United States, as a region, had the fewest state certified librarians on staff.
  • Sixty-two percent of school libraries had career and college databases.
  • Racial and ethnic differences in school library use also were apparent.

The full report is available online at

AASL, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library media services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program.
Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library media field. For more information, please see