Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California Page: 1
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Statement of the Problem
California has the worst ratio of school library media specialists to students in the United
States-so poor, in fact, that the gap between California and the 49th state is greater than the gap
between the 49th state and the 1st (Everhart, 2003). With just one library media specialist (LMS)
for every 5,965 students, staffing ratios are almost 7 times below the national average ("Statistics
about California School Libraries," 2007). After a 4-year period of unprecedented state funding
for school library collections ended in 2001, collection budgets and per pupil expenditures on
library programs in California are again among the lowest in the country (National Center for
Education Statistics [NCES], 2007).
Ironically, during an era in which school officials scramble for ways to increase student
achievement, funding for school library media programs has not gained favor (NCES, 2007), in
spite of dozens of studies in the past two decades that have documented correlations between
school library media programs and student achievement. Among these, the first Colorado study
(Lance, Welborn & Hamilton-Pennell, 1993) established a methodology that has been replicated
or adapted in at least 16 states (National Commission on Libraries and Information Science,
2006). While correlations vary from state to state, taken as a whole, these studies make a strong
case for the positive influence of school library media programs on student achievement at the
elementary, middle school and high school levels (Lance & Loertscher, 2005).
In California, Sinclair-Tarr and Tarr (2004) conducted a study that departed from this
methodology in substantial ways and found few significant correlations between school library
media programs and student achievement. In some cases, the researchers actually found
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Achterman, Douglas L. Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California, dissertation, December 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9800/m1/15/: accessed May 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .