Public school libraries: their history, curriculum, and impact on student achievement
This dissertation explores the development of public school libraries from their origins in the late 18th century in New England to today’s dynamic, modern places where students and faculty use 21st century technology to access information sources. Staffed with trained professionals and support staff, these school libraries have specific curricula that teach information literacy skills – how to find, evaluate, and use resources – and promote the love of reading and teach lifelong learning skills. Since 1990 the school library field has been fortunate to have seen a flurry of activity in the area of quantitative research, which has shown consistently how important school libraries are in helping all students, regardless of socio-economic or community conditions increase their personal achievement. Professionally staffed, well funded libraries with large, current collections and electronic access to numerous online databases have been shown to consistently increase student achievement scores on standardized tests. Specifically, the research in this study compares the achievement scores of 5th grade elementary students taking the Reference Materials test of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), by comparing the scores between schools with and without professional librarians to see what impact there is on student achievement, especially with the various racial groups found within the district. A descriptive study, there are no specific answers to questions, but outcomes are revealed and recommendations for further study and use of the information found during the researching of this paper are offered.
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