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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Latest Study: A full-time school librarian makes a critical difference in boosting student achievement

By Debra E. Kachel and Keith Curry Lance on March 7, 2013


The role of the school library program and academic standards. This is the first statewide study to assess the roles of librarians in teaching the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) Standards for the 21st-Century Learner as well as Common Core standards. We and our associates at RSL Research Group in Louisville, CO, surveyed more than 1,850 librarians, teachers, and school administrators to determine the extent to which these standards are addressed by school library programs and the instruction by librarians. To verify their perceptions, survey results were then correlated with the reading and writing scores of the respondents' schools. This study provides the first evidence that what librarians teach both addresses academic standards and impacts students' standardized test scores.

• These relationships are especially strong for the Pennsylvania/Common Core standards for English language arts and reading and writing for history and social studies.

• Notably, the positive association of the librarian's role in teaching AASL's Standards for the 21st-Century Learner with "Advanced" writing scores is dramatically higher than with "Advanced" reading scores.

• Consistently, students are less likely to score "Below Basic" on reading and writing in schools in which administrators, teachers, and librarians assess as "excellent" the library program's teaching of inquiry-based learning.

Consistently, reading and writing scores are better for students who have a full-time certified librarian than those who don't. Students who are economically disadvantaged, black, Hispanic, and have IEPs (i.e., students with disabilities) benefit proportionally more than students generally. These findings suggest that staffing libraries with certified librarians can help close achievement gaps. What are some of the other key findings?

• Students who are poor, minority, and have IEPs, but who have full-time librarians, are at least twice as likely to have "Advanced" writing scores as their counterparts without full-time librarians.

This study adds to the evidence that all K–12 students need and deserve quality school library programs with full-time certified staff. Students are more likely to succeed when they have library programs that are well staffed, well funded, technologically well equipped, well stocked, and more accessible. And, the neediest learners may benefit the most from trained librarians and quality library programs.