Sunday, May 8, 2011

School library program impact meta-analysis

Link found between spending on libraries and student learning It is an article of faith among many critics of public schools that there is no  correlation between spending and learning outcomes. But it's not so—at least  where library spending is concerned. When support for school libraries rises,  reading scores go up and learning by other measures increases also. That's what  researchers at Mansfield University in Mansfield, PA found when they examined  and summarized the results of 23 studies done around the United States and  Canada. "Quality school library programs impact student achievement," says Debra E.  Kachel, a professor in the School Library and Information Technologies  Department at Mansfield University. "The research shows clearly that schools  that support their library programs give their students a better chance to  succeed." Kachel and a class of graduate students examined school library impact studies,  most done in the last decade, by 22 states and one Canadian province (Ontario).  Most examined student standardized test scores. A few used qualitative  approaches. All found positive links between library support and learning. The  paper, "School Library Research Summarized" was done this spring for the  Pennsylvania School Librarians Association. Among the findings: a California study in 2008 established a strong positive  relationship between school library budgets and test scores in language arts and  history. In Illinois in 2005 a study found that elementary schools which spend  more on their libraries average almost 10 percent higher writing performance.  For middle schoolers the average was 13 percent higher. A Pennsylvania study in 2000 learned that schools that spent more money on their  school library programs had higher student achievement on reading scores. And a  2004 Minnesota study discovered a statistically significant relationship at the  elementary level between higher reading scores and larger school library  budgets. Although poverty remains a primary force in determining student academic  success, the studies in state after state showed that socio-economic conditions  could not explain away the impact of school library programs. A Wisconsin study  in 2006, for example, found that the impact of a robust library media program in  high school was almost seven percentage points greater than the impact of  socio-economic variables. "In fact, quality school library programs may play an even greater role for  students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds," says Kachel. Adequate staffing also correlates with student achievement. In Ontario in 2006,  the presence of a school librarian was the single strongest predictor of reading  enjoyment for students in grades three and six. In 2010, a New York State  research project found that elementary schools with certified school library  media specialists were more likely to have higher English language arts  achievement scores than those in schools without certified library staff. The studies also showed that incremental increases in the following can result  in incremental increases in student learning: increased library hours and group  visits by classes to the library; larger collections with access as school and  from home; up-to-date technology; more student use of school library services.  "School leaders should to recognize this research and foster school library  programs that can make a difference," says Kachel.
Kachel, D. (2011). School library impact study project. Mansfield, PA: Mansfield University.

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