The Data to Support School Libraries is Compelling and Extensive

Solomon, Samantha

Lance, K. and Kachel, D. (2018). Why school librarians matter: What years of research tell us – kappanonline.org. [online] kappanonline.org. Available at: http://www.kappanonline.org/lance-kachel-school-librarians-matter-years-research/ [Accessed 26 Sep. 2018].

Summary: The article details data about the effect and effectiveness of school libraries collected since 1992, including data from more than 34 statewide studies where researchers have also controlled for school and community socioeconomic factors. In general, the data has consistently shown ” positive correlations between high-quality library programs and student achievement (Gretes, 2013; Scholastic, 2016)” and these gains are enhanced when all school stakeholders partner closely with the library.

Some of the data highlights include:

  • In a Pennsylvania study (Lance & Schwarz, 2012), nearly 8% more students scored Advanced on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment in reading in schools with a full-time, certified librarian than in schools without.
  • Students with full-time librarians were almost three times more likely than those without librarians to have Advanced writing scores.
  • The Pennsylvania study (Lance & Schwarz, 2012) found that while 1.6% fewer students tested at the Below Basic level in reading when they had full-time librarians than those who did not, the difference was even greater for Black students (5.5%), Latino students (5.2%), and students with disabilities (4.6%).
  • Graduation rates and test scores in reading and math were significantly higher in schools with high-quality libraries and certified librarians, even after controlling for school size and poverty.

Evaluation: I was so attracted to this article because in my district, school libraries and school library staff are CONSTANTLY on the chopping block. Last year, organizing and advocating for students right to access school libraries and qualified staff basically felt like a second full time job, and we still on barely snuck through. The data presented in this article is clear and useful for other TLs who might find themselves advocating for their jobs.

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