Link found between spending on libraries and student learning

May 06, 2011

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 use of school library services.

"School leaders should to recognize this research and foster school library programs that can make a difference," says Kachel.

Explore further: World population likely to peak by 2070

More information: "School Library Research Summarized" is now a booklet and a website. Both can be found here: library.mansfield.edu/impact.asp.

Provided by Dick Jones Communications

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Keeping kids' minds sharp during summer break

Jun 18, 2007

School is out for the summer, but with parents' help, informal summer learning can be "in" with kids. Simple, low-cost steps like turning off the TV and visiting the local public library or nature center can introduce children ...

Poor student outcomes linked to aging schools

Dec 03, 2010

When assessing education, much attention goes to the administrative control of the school district, teaching and testing. But little goes to the growing evidence that where learning occurs matters. American school buildings ...

Attitude determines student success in rural schools

Jun 20, 2008

[B]Study investigates qualities of high-achieving schools[/B] While most of the country focuses on ACT scores, student-teacher ratio and rigorous curriculum to increase student success, it may be the commitment to excellence tha ...

Closing the Achievement Gap in Math and Science

May 02, 2008

The latest results from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program show not only improved proficiency among all elementary and middle school students, but also a closing ...

Recommended for you

World population likely to peak by 2070

19 hours ago

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Bullying in schools is still prevalent, national report says

20 hours ago

Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth, according to a report by researchers ...

Study examines effects of credentialing, personalization

23 hours ago

Chris Gamrat, a doctoral student in learning, design and technology, recently had his study—completed alongside Heather Zimmerman, associate professor of education; Jaclyn Dudek, a doctoral student studying learning, design ...

Data indicate there is no immigration crisis

Oct 22, 2014

Is there an "immigration crisis" on the U.S.-Mexico border? Not according to an examination of historical immigration data, according to a new paper from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

User comments : 0