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Nonetheless, the South Carolina study, which tied test scores to specific standards, revealed that students with full-time, qualified librarians and strong library programs were more likely to meet at an exemplary level, and less likely not to meet, specific standards for using literary text, using informational text, and conducting research (Lance, Schwarz, & Rodney, 2014).The work of librarians The mere presence of a librarian is associated with better student outcomes, but what librarians do also has positive effects.In states that gained librarians between 2004--09, average reading scores for poor students, Black students, and Latino students improved more than in states that lost librarians.
Librarians and student achievement In these statewide studies, the most substantial and consistent finding is a positive relationship between full-time, qualified school librarians and scores on standards-based language arts, reading, and writing tests, regardless of student demographics and school characteristics.
For example, a national study using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and 4th-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores documented that losses of librarians are associated with declines or inferior gains in reading scores, while gains of librarians are associated with improved scores (Lance & Hofschire, 2011a).
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.
This means that librarians operate as independent silos, doing good work but not necessarily working in concert with the rest of the staff on achieving district priorities.
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And when given this sort of diminished, peripheral role — seen as “nice to have, but not necessary” — library programs are more likely to be subject to budget and staffing cuts.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.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.Multiple studies have found that test scores tend to be higher in schools where librarians spend more time: Several library impact studies suggest test scores tend to be higher where administrators, teachers, and librarians themselves think of the school librarian as a school leader; as a teacher, co-teacher, and in-service professional development provider; as a curriculum designer, instructional resources manager, and reading motivator; and as a technology teacher, troubleshooter, and source of instructional support (Lance & Schwarz, 2012).Indeed, having librarians take an instructional role — and do it well — has been correlated with students’ success at meeting academic standards.In the Pennsylvania study, among others, when administrators, teachers, and librarians agreed that librarians did an “excellent” job teaching to state reading and writing standards, students in their schools were more likely to excel and less likely to score poorly on corresponding tests (Lance & Schwarz, 2012).State studies (summarized in Kachel, 2013) also indicate students tend to thrive academically where library programs provide ready access to free and subscription-based online resources alongside more traditional collections of books, periodicals, and audiovisual resources.Further, when administrators, teachers, and librarians themselves rated the importance and frequency of various library practices associated with student learning, their ratings correlated with student test scores, further substantiating claims of libraries’ benefits.In addition, newer studies, conducted over the last several years, show that strong school libraries are also linked to other important indicators of student success, including graduation rates and mastery of academic standards.