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

When examining data across studies, few patterns emerged in terms of the strength of
correlations at specific grade levels. That is, with some library variables, an individual study
might yield its strongest correlations at the elementary level, while the strongest correlations for
other library variables in the same study might be found at the high school level. This lack of a
pattern was exhibited both within and across studies. This may be due to the complex
interrelationships among elements of a school library program, as well as the interaction between
the library program and school and community variables.
On the other hand, analysis of these statewide studies collectively indicates persistent, if not
strong, bivariate correlations between student achievement and school library program variables,
most notably in size of print collections, library media specialist staffing levels, and total staffing
levels. In the Wisconsin (Smith, 2006), Pennsylvania (Lance et al., 2000b) and Illinois (Lance
et al., 2005) studies, when controlling for school and community variables in partial correlations,
those correlations generally remained statistically significant. Similarly, multiple regressions
that included factor analysis to combine LMC staffing with other program elements such as
budget and collection size resulted in significant relationships between these factors and student
achievement when school and community variables were included.
Recent History of California School Libraries
Of all states, California has fared worst in maintaining quality school library programs.
Although earlier studies exist, the first comprehensive survey of the state's school libraries,
published in 1968, reported that just 38% of elementary schools had a library, and just under
19% of those that had libraries were staffed with certificated librarians (Howell, 1968). Overall,
just under 11% of elementary schools were staffed with certificated librarians, compared to over
50% nationally (Howell, 1968). And while 98% of secondary schools had libraries, just 64% of


Achterman, Douglas L. Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. Accessed May 5, 2015.