Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California

between NAEP reading scores and print access; these correlations remained strong when
controlling for socioeconomic factors.
Krashen notes that California's scores on the 1992 NAEP reading test were among the
nation's lowest, and lays the blame in part on the state's school libraries, which the author calls
"among the worst in the United States, both in terms of books and staffing" (2004, p. 66). Today,
the situation is unimproved. The 2005 NAEP scores show California outscoring only one other
state and the District of Columbia on the reading portion of the test (Perie, Grigg, & Donahue,
2005), and library media specialist staffing ratios-the number of students per library media
specialist-are so impoverished that the gap between the 49th state and California is greater than
the gap between the 49th and 1st states (Everhart, 2003).
Krashen (2004) also notes the inequity in the levels of resources available to students
from high and low socio-economic backgrounds, and points out that while students from
wealthier parents generally have access to a print-rich environment at home and book stores,
students from poorer backgrounds have no such access, making the role of the school library all
the more crucial. Two studies of access to books in Los Angeles area communities of differing
income levels support this position, finding statistically significant differences between high and
low socioeconomic status for access to home, classroom and school library books. (Constantino,
2005; Smith, Constantino & Krashen, 1997). These studies are consistent with the findings of
Neuman and Celano (2001), who found when comparing poor and middle-class neighborhoods
in Philadelphia that poor neighborhoods were significantly less print-rich, and that the children in
those neighborhoods therefore had many fewer opportunities to engage with text.
Not surprisingly, school libraries in poor neighborhoods often don't provide access to
nearly as many resources as do those in wealthier areas. Neuman and Celano's (2001) analysis

32

Achterman, Douglas L. Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9800/. Accessed September 1, 2014.