In fact, they have often found that the benefits associated with good library programs are strongest for the most vulnerable and at-risk learners, including students of color, low-income students, and students with disabilities.
Let’s take a closer look at these findings and what they mean for school library programs.
Since 1992, a growing body of research known as the school library impact studies has consistently shown positive correlations between high-quality library programs and student achievement (Gretes, 2013; Scholastic, 2016).
Data from more than 34 statewide studies suggest that students tend to earn better standardized test scores in schools that have strong library programs.
The study ranked school library programs based on certified staffing, library accessibility, resources, and technology and found that “the one key factor distinguishing high-performing high-poverty schools from low-performing high-poverty schools is a quality library program” (Coker, 2015, p. 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.
No standards-based test fully captures the extent to which quality school library programs contribute to students’ mastery of state or national academic standards.
Schools with full-time librarians also had fewer Below Basic scores than those without librarians.
Reading and writing scores tend to be higher for all students who have a full-time certified librarian, and when it comes to reading, students in at-risk subgroups tend to benefit more than all students combined.
On average, Black and Latino students whose schools had larger library collections (versus those who did not) more than doubled their percentages of Advanced writing scores and cut their risk of Below Basic writing scores in half.
The 4th-grade NAEP reading data supported the Pennsylvania findings.