II. STUDY OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY
Texas Education Code: 33.021: SUBCHAPTER B. LIRARIES Sec. 33.021. Library Standards, mandates that the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) in consultation with the State Board of Education shall adopt standards for school library services. School districts shall consider these standards in developing, implementing, or expanding library services.
To meet the State mandate of updating library standards so that they better serve communities across the State, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission contracted for an analytical study with three objectives:
- Examine school library resources, services, and use on the basis of the School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas and determine the need for updating these standards and guidelines so that they better serve communities across the State.
- Determine the impact that school libraries have on student performance as measured by student performance on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS).
- Highlight library practices in the best performing schools.
1. Libraries and Student Performance: Recent Research
Several recent state studies examined the relationship between library resources and activities and student performance. These studies included:
Keith Curry Lance, Christine Hamilton-Pennell, Marcia J. Rodney, Lois A. Petersen, Clara Sitter, Information Empowered; The School Librarian as an Agent of Academic Achievement in Alaska Schools; Alaska State Library, Juneau, Alaska, 1999
Keith Curry Lance, Marcia J. Rodney, Christine Hamilton-Pennell, How School Librarians Help Kids Achieve Standards; The Second Colorado Study; Colorado State Library, Colorado Department of education, Denver, Colorado; April 2000
Keith Curry Lance, Marcia J. Rodney, Christine Hamilton-Pennell, Measuring Up to Standards; The Impact of School Library Programs & Information Literacy in Pennsylvania Schools; Pennsylvania Citizens for Better Libraries, Greensburg, Pennsylvania; February 2000
James C. Baughman, Ph.D., "School Libraries and MCAS Scores," (Preliminary Edition). A Paper Presented at a Symposium Sponsored by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science; Simmons College, Boston Massachusetts; October 26, 2000.
The studies conducted in Colorado, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts:
- Identified characteristics of libraries associated with student performance.
- Recognized the powerful impact of school and community socio-economic variables on student performance.
- Documented that library resources and activities explain only a very small percent of the variance associated with student performance.
Studies conducted by Lance, Rodney, and Hamilton-Pennell in Colorado (twice), Pennsylvania, and Alaska demonstrated that library support by the principal and teacher collaboration with librarians is important to making the library program an integral part of teaching and learning. The librarians have a teaching role as co-teachers of students and trainers of teachers in information technology. For the librarian to be a pivotal player, the availability of support staff is essential. Library programs in schools with high test scores are those that have technology that extends access to information resources beyond the library to classrooms, labs, and other instructional sites.
A recent Colorado study (How School Librarians Help Kids Achieve Standards, The Second Colorado Study, April 2000) by Lance, Rodney, and Hamilton-Pennell surpassed previous studies by creating a series of library indicators (i.e. groupings of variables), rather than using individual variables, to predict student performance on the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) reading test. The indicators documented in the study included the following:
- Library Program Development indicator. The indicator is composed of: the number of librarian and support staff per 100 students; the number of staff hours per 100 students; the number of hours library staff work per week per 100 students; the number of print volumes per student; the number of periodicals per 100 students; the number of electronic reference titles per 100 students; and the library expenditure per student.
- Librarian Leadership indicator consists of the time spent by librarians meeting with the principal, serving on standards and curriculum committees, holding meetings of library staff, and participating in faculty meetings.
- The Librarian Collaboration indicator involves the following activities: teaching cooperatively with teachers, identifying materials for teachers, teaching information literacy to students, providing in-service training to teachers, and managing information technology.
- The Technology indicator addresses the availability of technology (in the library and linked to library resources) and access to the Internet and to licensed online databases.
The study documented that at the elementary school level, the Leadership and Collaboration indicators were significantly correlated with each other as were the Program Development and Technology indicators. At the secondary school level, the Leadership and Collaboration indicators were correlated as was the Program Development indicator with the variable denoting flexible scheduling. The indicators at the secondary level showed a significant correlation with students' CSAP scores but the correlation coefficients were low. At the elementary school level only the Collaboration indicator showed a significant, but low, correlation with students' CSAP scores.
As in other studies, students' socio-economic status, represented through the percent of students eligible for National School Lunch Program and the percent of minority students, were the most powerful predictors of performance on the CSAP. Among the four library indicators, the Program Development indicator contributed the most to the explanation of student performance on CSAP. At the elementary school level, Program Development explained 7.5 percent of the variance on CSAP; the two socio-economic variables explained 43 percent. At the secondary level, the Program Development indicator explained 1.6 percent of student CSAP scores; the socio-economic variables explained 74 percent of the variance.
The Pennsylvania study (Measuring Up to Standards), conducted earlier (published in February 2000) by Lance, Rodney, and Hamilton-Pennell, used the reading scores of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) as a measure of student performance. The study found that schools with average and above average PSSA scores had a larger percent of libraries staffed by a librarian and support staff than schools with below average PSSA scores. The study also identified a series of library variables as predictors of PSSA scores. These variables included library expenditures per student, number of print volumes per student, number of periodical subscriptions, CD ROM reference titles, number of library networked computers, number of computers with access to library databases, and number of computers with Internet access, and the integration of information literacy. The presence of a librarian and support staff yielded higher correlation coefficients with these variables than the presence of a librarian alone. The presence of a librarian with support staff also showed a significant, although low, correlation with PSSA scores at all educational levels even when controlled for school and community socio-economic variables, school size, per pupil expenditures, teacher pupil ration, percent of teachers with master's degrees, teachers years of experience, and teacher average salary.
The study identified that libraries in schools with higher test scores had more staff and more information technology, and did more to integrate information literacy into the curriculum. The rise of library staffing, information resources, and information technology was followed by an increase in the involvement of school librarians in teaching teachers and students how to find and assess information. In schools with higher PSSA scores, classrooms, labs, and other instructional sites were linked with the library via computers. Schools with higher PSSA scores had more computers that teachers and students could utilize to access the Internet and licensed databases. In schools with higher PSSA scores librarians spent more time teaching cooperatively with teachers, teaching information literacy skills, providing in-service training to teachers, managing information technology, meeting with principals, and serving on standards and curriculum committees.
The Alaska study (Information Empowered), conducted in 1999, demonstrated that schools with higher scores on version 5 of the California Achievement Tests (CAT5) tended to have libraries with a full-time librarian rather than a part-time librarian. These libraries were able to offer longer hours of service, higher levels of library staff activity, and higher student usage. Staff levels were strongly associated with levels of staff activity and resulted in more hours devoted to the delivery of information literacy instruction to students, cooperative planning of instructional units with teachers, and the provision of in-service to teachers and other school staff. Schools with higher test scores tended to be associated with libraries where librarians devoted more time to these activities. Libraries in schools with higher test scores had a cooperative relationship with the public library; had computers that provided online access to information, and had a collection development policy that addressed the reconsideration of challenged materials.
Using the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores as a measure of student performance, a recent Massachusetts study (School Libraries and MCAS Scores) conducted by James C. Baughman showed that at all levels--elementary, middle/junior high, and high school-schools with library programs have higher MCAS scores than schools without library programs. Schools with more (high) library resources have higher MCAS scores than schools with fewer (low) library resources. Even in schools with a high percent of students on free lunch (defined as 15 percent or more of such students), schools that have libraries with more resources had higher MCAS scores than schools with libraries that have fewer resources. The study identified a series of library variables that differentiated between schools with higher and lower MCAS scores. These variables included: library hours of operation, books-per-pupil, expenditure-per-student, periodical and newspaper resources, presence of a full-time librarian, presence of support staff, availability of volunteers, student visits to the library per week, percent of students visiting per week, and alignment with state curriculum resources.
At all educational levels, the percent of students on free lunch was the most powerful predictor of student performance. In elementary schools that responded to the Massachusetts survey, books-per-pupil, presence of a full-time librarian, and automation explained 7.3 percent of the variance in student performance; percent of students on free lunch explained 63.3 percent of the variance. At the middle/junior high school level, books-per-pupil and full-time librarian contributed 4.5 percent to the explanation of student performance; percent of students on free lunch contributed 75.6 percent. At the high school level, books-per-pupil, presence of a full-time librarian, and hours of paid support staff explained 1.5 percent of student performance; percent of students on free lunch explained 58.7 percent.
The Massachusetts study used categorical variables (high/low; yes/no) in its analyses, comparing schools with libraries that have more resources to schools with libraries that have fewer or no resources or have no libraries. The analyses, particularly at the elementary school level, involved only a portion of the libraries that did respond to the survey (39 percent to 77 percent) rather than all the responding libraries. The researcher gave no explanation as to whether the portions of responding libraries not included in these analyses did not have data or whether the exclusions were due to other reasons. This, however, further limits the confidence with which the findings can be generalized not only to the entire sample of responding libraries but to libraries statewide, given that only 29 percent of the libraries provided information.
The association between library resources and activities and student performance as measured on state tests has been documented in library and educational research. Research has consistently shown that schools with well-staffed and well-resourced libraries and with librarians acting effectively in their role as program administrators, teachers/trainers, and information technology access providers have higher scores on state tests.
Continue on to Chapter 2, Section 2