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Running Head: Libraries and Academic Achievement

How Libraries Change the Academic Achievement of Children

By Lisa-Dai Keen Venker
Towson University

May 17, 2011

Libraries and Academic Achievement

Lisa-Dai Keen Venker

Libraries and Academic Achievement

The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools be held accountable for their students academics
in all areas of the curriculum. High stakes tests completed each year have resulted in some
school not making adequate yearly progress. This therefore puts pressure on schools to do all
they can to help students make the mark of proficient on the Maryland State Assessment test
(MSA). For example my school, Golden Ring Middle School, has not made adequate yearly
progress in math and reading from the last five years, and is now being restructured which
requires many changes in staff and multiple changes in curriculum.
With todays focus on education cuts are everywhere. Unfortunately, job cuts are also found in
public schools. One area that is increasingly being attacked is the library. In Baltimore County,
five high school level library media specialists (LMS) who are a second librarian in that school
are being cut and are forced to take on other open positions regardless of the fact that they maybe
middle or elementary schools. Prince Georges County is expected to cut its educational staff by
1,100. LMS are increasingly being targeted. Of the 215 LMS, the county executive has
suggested that 90 positions should be cut (Toth, 2011).
As a new librarian, in a low achieving school, I was interested in how a library affects a school.
As stated previously my school is currently going through restructuring. There is always the
concern that my job may be one that could be excessed. I was also concerned about how
important a library can be and was interested in finding ways to support my library within my
school. Proving to my principal why the library deserves more funds from our school budget,
the need to continue flexible scheduling, and that my position is vital to our school were among
the reasons for researching this topic.

Libraries and Academic Achievement

In multiple studies, the first in Colorado in 1993, evidence was found that libraries impact
academic achievement and have been shown to improve scores on mandated state-wide tests. In
Illinois, studies of school libraries indicated that higher achieving schools are associated with
flexible scheduling, larger library staffs, and larger and more current collections (Lance, Rodney,
& Hamilton-Pennell, 2005). Another important fact is that the more money spent in a library
indeed produces greater scores on required tests (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005).
In 2003, the average yearly budget was $4,500 for elementary, $6,250 for middle school, and
$10,255 in high school (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005). Those schools that spent
more than this had increases in scores. Elementary had five percent higher reading scores, nine
percent in middle, with almost twelve in high schools (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell,

Support of this information is backed up by studies found in multiple states like

Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, and California. Additional studies, Texas, also support that in order to
increase reading scores libraries should be staffed by highly qualified individuals and aides or
assistance that allow LMS to provide collaborative lessons on curriculum (Smith, 2001). There
only two-thirds had a full-time librarian and one-quarter also had an aide (Smith, 2001).


freeing up time LMS are able to focus on curriculum that is required by the county and state and
not clerical work.
The number of hours that librarians actually are available also makes an impact. In Illinois,
middle school librarians spent roughly forty-nine hours per week working in libraries (Lance,
Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005). Those students scored five percent higher on achievement
tests (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005).

Similar findings were found in Iowa with a

strong correlational coefficient between number of hours staffed and achievement on

standardized tests (Rodney, Lance, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2002). Ohio reported in a survey by

Libraries and Academic Achievement

students that being able to access their library was most helpful with ninety-six percent picking
this choice (Todd, 2003). Additionally, the intervention by the librarian helps to engage students
in research by helping them start their research, focus on a topic, and identify the information
that they need to complete their project (Todd, 2003).
Another factor that affects libraries are number of visits that students are allowed to make. In
Colorado, elementary students who visited more frequently scored between sixty-seven to
seventy-two percent proficient or advance on state-wide tests. Only ten percent scored
unsatisfactory (Francis, Lance, & Lietzau, 2010). Those students who had less frequent visits
averaged sixty-two to sixty-seven percent proficient or advanced and twelve to fourteen percent
unsatisfactory (Francis, Lance, & Lietzau 2010). These are just a few factors that have
interested me in my libraries role in academic achievement located in my school.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of this study is to provide evidence that the library located in Golden Ring Middle
School makes a large contribution to the passing and achievement on Maryland state-wide tests.
In order to encourage the support of libraries it is imperative that funding continue. To receive
monetary support proof needs to be delivered that proves that libraries do make an impact on
student achievement and the goal of proficiency on state-wide mandated tests. Libraries
therefore must have this continuous monetary support to maintain the high standards expected of

Literature Review

Libraries and Academic Achievement

School libraries have always played important roles in school (Lance, Rodney, & Schwarz,
2010). It is where students do research and take out books, but is there more to the role of the
library. With the current status of budget cuts libraries often fall victim to being the first to lose
monetary support. To prevent these cuts and prove that libraries do play a vital role in the
achievement of students many studies have been done in multiple states to support the need for
libraries. In order to provide a stable library environment researchers and librarians have sought
out to support the continuing support of libraries. Using surveys a Delaware study found that
even students understand the importance of libraries (Todd & Heinstrom, 2006). Students
articulated that libraries offered rich help in a variety of ways and ultimately provided them with
better grades (Todd & Heinstrom, 2006).
In order to prevent cuts many content areas work to provide evidence that they increase scores on
state-wide achievement tests. The national No Child Left Behind Act has pushed many districts
and schools to reevaluate where their money is allocated. Libraries of course want to make sure
that they are not being left behind.
Much data has been presented since the 1960s on the impact of libraries in academics. The first
study to impact current libraries occurred in 1993 called The Impact of School Library Media
Centers on Achievement by Lance, Rodney & Hamilton-Pennell. This helped push to the
forefront the need for libraries in schools. Since then multiple studies have been replicated
identifying some correlation between student achievement and school libraries.
Flexible scheduling seems to be key in allowing LMS the time needed to plan with other teachers
and staff (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005). When LMS have flexible scheduling,
students scores increased on the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT) by 5.3% (Lance, Rodney,

Libraries and Academic Achievement

& Hamilton-Pennell, 2005). In Texas, survey information found that the flexible hours and use
of assistant allowed LMS to focus on these lessons instead of clerical work (Smith, 2001).
Scores on standardized tests increased by 4.5% in libraries that had more than one librarian
(Smith, 2001). The number of staff and the hours available to students showed a correlation
and raised these scores (Smith, 2001, Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005, & Todd &
Heinstrom, 2006).
The size of a collection can also play an important role. Those schools that have a larger
collection have higher score on tests than schools with fewer numbers of volumes (Lance,
Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005). In Illinois, the difference was on the number of points on
state assessment tests, rose 13.8% (Lance, Rodney, Hamilton-Pennell, 2005). Additionally, the
relationship between size and age of collection is important to provide students with the most
current and up-to-date information available to them for research and classroom requirements
(Todd & Heinstrom, 2006). The younger the collection the better, the more accurate the
information is.
Technology and the use of it are important in education and help to maintain the current trends in
society. Students tend to use technology easily in their everyday life. Having information
available is important when students are completing research (Todd & Heinstrom, 2006). Using
the internet has become the norm in todays society. Many libraries are wired for technology but
either dont have the computers to support that technology or the access (Todd & Heinstrom,
2006). Schools that provide a larger number of computers have a considerably higher test scores,
10.7% in Illinois on state-wide assessment test over schools with little or poor connections
(Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005)). In the Iowa study, there was a sign of statistical
significance when technology and academics on tests were recorded (Rodney, Lance, &

Libraries and Academic Achievement

Hamilton-Pennell, 2005). Technology was identified as the ratios of computers to student and
the number of computers that provide databases, the Internet, and computer aided library
catalogs (Rodney, Lance, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2005). North Carolina provided data that
suggested that average students percentage on standardized reading and English tests increased
by five percent in schools with more electronic access than those with less (Burgin & Bracy,
Money spent in a library allowed for multiple improvements throughout the library. Iowa, again,
showed a positive correlation between money spent and the scores on state-tests (Rodney, Lance,
& Hamilton-Pennell, 2002). Texas showed that those schools with a larger amount of money
spent created better scores on state assessment tests (Smith, 2001). For middle schools in
Illinois, this finding was significant. A difference of more than 9% was found on state-wide
achievement test compared to those schools that spent less (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell,
With all of this evidence and no studies found in Maryland I decided to purse and replicate
portions of these studies in my school in Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland.
Statement of the Hypothesis
Using previous and current MSA data and survey information about the library from students and
the librarian I expect to find that students scores have increased on the reading portion of the
MSA. This is due to the increase use and circulation of books as well as increases in the number
of visits to the library compared to data from previous years using the computerized catalogue

Libraries and Academic Achievement

Participants will be selected using simple random sampling. I will use the current 7th and 8th
grades students who were present for the entire 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years. Thirty
students will be randomly selected from that population (fifteen from 7th and fifteen from 8th).
Because of the strong transient student population a small sample will be used as many students
have not completed multiple years at Golden Ring Middle school. These students will therefore
be selected in order to compare last years library usage and the current year.
Data will be taken in the form of surveys that will be given to both the librarian and students.
Included in the survey will be questions that involve short answer, circled responses, specific
numerical data and a Likert scale. Some of the librarians questions will include information on
staff, hours worked, library hours, education of LMS, age of collection, budget of library, and
technology provided and used. During one half hour session on two specified days, students will
reply to the time used or spent in library, use of the library, types of media used, class visits, and
technology use, including databases and time spent on computers. Some data from both years
based upon book circulation will be gathered from Destiny, the library computer catalogue used
in Baltimore County Schools.
Data will be gathered from the Marylands state-wide achievement test, MSA. Golden Rings
overall scores for reading in both 2010 and 2011 will be used as comparison. Access to the
assessment data will be gathered through the guidance department who have access to individual
information. The 2011 MSA scores will not be released until August.


Libraries and Academic Achievement

Students selected randomly will be asked during a school day to complete the survey in their
language arts classes. The librarian will also complete her portion of the studies survey. The
guidance counselor will retrieve MSA score information.
This is a descriptive study to identify any correlation between academic achievement and the use
of the library by students at Golden Ring Middle School only. Additional information from the
LMS will be collected to compare this library to libraries in other studies in order to identify how
equipped and efficiently it runs.
Data Analysis
Students responses will be collected and sorted according to response from the information used
on the survey. MSA data will be collected to identify students as advanced, proficient, and basic.
2010 scores of individual students will be compared to 2011 scores. Because my research has
groups with continuous data and bivariate relationships the analysis should follow that of a
simple correlation study.
Anticipated Outcome
As with previous studies there should be an overall increase between 1-10% in the reading
portion of the MSA compared to previous years when the library was not used as often by
students. It should be noted that the previous librarian did not offer classes opportunities to work
and borrow books from the library. The current librarian has overhauled the library and has
encouraged the lending of books. There has also been a marked increase in the number of library
visits from academic classes. (Initial data from Destiny has shown that the number of books

Libraries and Academic Achievement


borrowed was double that of the entire 2009-2010 school year by December.) Therefore,
increases in multiple library use, time spent, and the number of books borrowed should match to
advanced or proficient students MSA scores and/or positive movement toward proficient and
advanced status or an increase of 1-10% over previous years scores.
Previous MSA data is available. Current data, 2011, will be available in August of 2011.
Surveys will be given and completed in language arts classes during one mod, fifty minutes. Is
should take no more than thirty for students to complete the survey. The librarian portion should
take about an hour and they will be asked to complete and return her portion of the data in a
weeks time and they will be asked to complete and return her portion of the data in a weeks
time. All data will be acquired and analyzed in August and a formal report of results will be
completed in September 2011.


Libraries and Academic Achievement


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Libraries and Academic Achievement