Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Library Quality is associated with school achievement and can help balance the effect of poverty. Results from Adkins (2014).



Adkins (2014) examined the impact of libraries and library quality on PISA test scores. PISA is given to 15-year olds world-wide. Adkins' analysis focused on American students only.
The results
Multiple regression analysis

MATH
READING
SCIENCE
Predictors
beta
beta
beta
Wealth
.705*
.722*
.632*
Library
-0.072
-.193*
-.212*
Library Adequacy
.212*
.158*
.226*
Tech adeq
-.157
-.16*
-.174*
r2
0.57
0.625
0.542
From: Adkins, 2015.

1.     As is found in many other studies, wealth (mean family wealth associated with the school) was a significant predictor of PISA sreading, math and science scores.
2.     The presence of a library was not a significant predictor but in the US nearly all schools have a library
3.     The principals' judgement of the adequacy of the library staff and materials was a positive predictor, not as strong as "wealth" but it made a noticeable contriubution. 
4.     The principals' judgement of the technological adequacy of the library was negatively associated with PISA scores: Better technology was related to lower scores. This was, however, not the case for students in the lowest levels of achievement.

Conclusions:
1.     In countries where school libraries are nearly universal, presence or absence of a library will not be related to academic achievement. But library quality does make a difference.
2.     Access to a good library counts, even when social class is controlled, and the library plays some role in balancing the effect of poverty.

Adkins findings on principals' perception of library adequacy can be interpreted as parallel to the results of previous studies: Access to a library counts, even when social class is controlled, and the library plays some role in balancing the effect of poverty.
How libraries help students of poverty
Adkins' analysis also revealed that students from poor families
1.     are less likely to have a place to study at home
2.     have fewer books at home
3.     borrow more books for pleasure reading from the library, use the library internet access more

Adkins concludes:
"The school library can provide a safety net for Poor students in offering resources they do not have at home, such as study space, literature and study materials, computer access, and Internet access. Middle and Rich students have home access to resources that Poor children might not have; Middle and Rich students do not necessarily need the school library to provide these resources. Poor students are forced to rely on the school library for these resources. Moreover, Poor students report making greater use of school library resources than Middle or Rich students do, so the resources the school library provides to Poor students are more likely to be used and appreciated. However, because school library access is limited, it seems unlikely that school libraries alone can level the playing field without significant policy changes in the services provided at Poor and Rich schools."
"This study, like many that came before it, indicates that adequate school libraries are essential to leveling the playing field between poor students and their wealthier peers. It is not necessarily the school library space itself, but the care and attention put into the library by the school, which ultimately results in student achievement. The library as a space is not useful unless it is supported by a caring and competent school librarian who works to stock the school library with the best materials and resources chosen to meet students’ needs."  (p. 18)

Adkins, Denice. 2014. “U.S. Students, Poverty, and School Libraries: What Results of the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment Tell Us.” American Association of School Librarians.  http://www.ala.org/aasl/slr/vol17 

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