School Libraries and Student Achievement in Ontario
The results echo the findings of many international reports on this topic:
However, statistical correlations do not prove causality. There may be another set of factors (not measured) that contribute to both school libraries and student achievement – possibly the relative richness or poverty of school areas.
Indeed, data in the report’s Appendix does show that “fundraising” (a variable which is not explained and inconsistently labelled) has the largest impact on almost all of the results regarding reading enjoyment and achievement. Fundraising activities would be likely to be most common and most successful in schools in richer neighbourhoods.
In the attitudinal portion of standardized tests, there has been a decline over the past five years in the percentage of students who say that they like to read. The report’s findings show that reading enjoyment is highest among students in larger schools (which are more likely to have a teacher-librarian). Anecdotal information has shown that “because of funding restraints, principals are routinely forced to choose between library staff [and] music, physical education or arts specialist teachers”.
The report calls on the
The report recommends that future research “examine the data over time, explore the involvement of socio-economic status, and assess the effects of libraries and library staffing on students at risk”. Future research could also explore the impacts of different types of library programs and staffing as well as examine possible standards for school libraries.
The Ontario School Library Association website provides a teacher-librarian toolkit that offers strategies for documenting and sharing student success stories. The toolkit is available at http://www.accessola.com/osla/toolkit/intro.html.