The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) is the latest federal approach in the improvement and closing of gaps in student academic performance.Conspicuously missing from the debate of educational success is a concern for the physical infrastructure of the school that directly supports learning in the c
1. David Peterson
June 1, 2011 Impact of School Facility Condition on Student Achievement
2. The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) is the latest federal approach in the improvement and closing of gaps in student academic performance.
Conspicuously missing from the debate of educational success is a concern for the physical infrastructure of the school that directly supports learning in the classroom. In order for educational leaders to support reform on a level that will boost student performance, they need to better understand the relationship between the quality of school facilities and learning
This national push for increased student performance continues as our school buildings deteriorate. The average school where students are in attendance is 48 years old.
The achievement and facility puzzle
3. Much research has continued to focus on pedagogical and curriculum trends and not directly on the environment surrounding the learner and the educator (Gregory & Smith, 1987).
A new body of academic inquiry is growing with a focus on the physical environment in the educational process.
Hence, the question exists as to how we can expect students to achieve in the absence of an adequate physical environment?
Where is the research?
4. A recent study by the American Society of Civil Engineers reports that 75 percent of the nations’ school buildings are inadequate (Kerr, 2003). This has occurred coincidentally while student performance for many of our nation’s students has remained stagnant (U.S. Department of Education, 2003).
The greatest single expense and most enduring transaction made by school officials is that of school facilities. It is estimated that more than $127 billion would be required to meet the national need for new or renovated academic space (Kerr, 2003).
It really is about….. school buildings
5. One of the most important fixtures in communities across the United States is the school building that educates the children. School facilities are a reflection of the community and the importance they place on the largest investment made by society. It is sad that current conditions and political forces have allowed these symbols of community strength to deteriorate and remain neglected to the point that they are not safe for children Reflection of the community
6. Across the nation, deteriorating public school buildings are a major obstacle to achieving academic success and neighborhood vitality (21st Century School Fund, 2006).
Bomier (2002) profiled the evolution of public school buildings in the United States and explained that school administrators had to deal with a surge in student enrollment and a lack of building capacity due to the Baby Boom phenomena of post World War II. Mass produced school buildings were erected to accommodate the booming growth rate. These schools were constructed of low-cost and synthetic materials and there was little effort made to be energy efficient.
The expectation for many of the schools built in the 1950’s and 1960’s Baby Boom years was to remain operational for 50 years without having to undergo major renovations. Unfortunately, this is not the case and most schools are in dire need of significant replacement and repairs. What does the literature say?
7. The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) conducted a national survey and determined that 74% of school facilities are in need of immediate repair or replacement; while another 12% were labeled as unsatisfactory or inadequate places for learning (Hansen, 1992).
Three-fourths of the School Buildings in use today are living on borrowed time; they have outlived their predicted useful life.
12% or 1 in 8 buildings are inadequate places for learning. For 5 million children - school is “no place to learn”
American Association of school Administrators 2004 report
The correlation appears to be positive between facility design and learning. Chan (1996) clarifies that poor learning facilities can foster negative attitudes just as exceptional designs may bolster achievement.
We can no longer ignore the deteriorating conditions of our nation’s schools. The learning environment matters
9. When school districts begin to defer maintenance, the school facilities begin traveling down the path of indoor air quality problems, deterioration, increased repair expenses, and reduced efficiency of operating equipment. The estimated cost of deferred maintenance in schools quadrupled in an eight year period from $25 billion in 1983 to $100 billion in 1991 (Frazier, 1993; Hansen, 1992).
The norm – deferred maintenance
10. Public school districts across the United States spent $19.9 billion on building and renovation projects in 2003 according to the Ninth Annual Construction Report (Abramson, 2004). New building construction totaled $11.2 billion, while $8.7 billion was spent on building renovations and expansions.
In 2004, school construction spending reached $18.6 billion; of which $7.6 billion was used for existing building repairs, renovations, and upgrades (Abramson, 2004).
School construction is big business!
11. Early Involvement Pays
12. The classroom is thought to be the most important area within a school (Adelman & Taylor, 2005). It is here that students spend most of their time, hopefully in an environment conducive to learning (Lyons, 2002). What about the classroom?
13. School facilities that are deteriorated and inadequate may result in reduced learning time, alienated students, inability to provide specialized curriculum, low staff morale, lack of technology proficiency, safety hazards, high rates of teacher attrition, and a reduced ability to meet special needs (21st Century School Fund, 2002). Do poor facilities really matter?
14. Outdated facilities have an adverse impact upon the learning process compared to safe, modern, and environmentally controlled school buildings that enhance the learning process.
A school facility should not impede education; it should enhance the learning experience.
The learning system is comprised of every aspect of the educational process. Because the goal of an educational system is to increase student performance and maximize student achievement, the recognition of barriers to achievement caused by the lack of funding and constraints that impede facility maintenance and renovations is important.
How can facilities folks help?
15. In Roosevelt v. Bishop, the Arizona Court required all school facilities to be brought up to a minimum adequacy standard and state funding was required to complete the necessary renovations. The result of the ruling was the creation of a state School Facilities Board to define the minimum standards, assess all school buildings throughout the state, and oversee the construction work necessary to correct the deficiencies. The cost for the deficiency correction work exceeded $1.3 billion (Ariz State Senate, 2009).
The Arizona Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in 1998 that articulated the requirements for a constitutional funding plan. The ruling also helped set up a Building Renewal funding formula for school districts to be able to continually maintain existing school facilities.
school districts in Arizona have been shorted a total of over $1.04 billion in funds that were suppose to help maintain facilities (Ariz State Senate, 2009). If schools were provided adequate resources to maintain their facilities, the achievement gap across the country could be reduced. Legal Perspective on School Facilities
16. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to investigate the relationship between the physical condition of school buildings and student performance with respect to high school teachers’ perspectives of students’ attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs regarding the physical environment(s) in which they have been educated.
The setting of this study was in an urban school district in which each of the facilities has recently undergone a major reconstruction and renovation. School Facilities and Student Achievement: Teacher Perspectives on the Learning Environment
18. What is the relationship between student achievement and the physical condition of school buildings and classrooms?
What is the relationship between the perceived educational adequacy and quality of facility’s as reported by teachers?
What is the relationship between the attitudes of pupils housed in a newly renovated school facility compared to those in older, well-worn facilities?
In what ways does the condition of an educational facility affect students’ perceptions of the degree to which their school district values their education and personal safety?
Initial Research Questions.
19. It is important to understand how the condition of school buildings affects learning. The relationships between teaching and learning, pupil performance, and buildings are complex and there is not enough evidence to provide firm guidance to policy makers on the complicated intricacies of how a school building’s physical properties influence teaching and learning.
In order to compare the results of this study with previous research, the Commonwealth Assessment of Physical Environment (CAPE) developed by Cash (1993) and the Total Learning Environment Assessment (TLEA) developed by O’Neill (2000) were replicated. From the results of the CAPE and TLEA surveys, teachers’ perceptions were explored by open-ended interviews. Research methodolgy
20. The Commonwealth Assessment of Physical Environment was developed to determine if school facilities had certain qualities that favored learning. The CAPE is a 23-question objective survey that is designed to be self-administrated. The instrument is scored and the results provide a rating of a facility as either being standard or substandard.
The Total Learning Environment Assessment (TLEA) survey instrument is designed to elicit teachers’ perceptions regarding the condition of the school facilities as it relates to student performance. The survey is intended to elicit responses that indicate whether student performance is negatively or positively affected by the condition of the learning environment. The instrument is also intended to identify the degree to which the condition of the built environment indicates the value of safety and the quality of education demonstrated by the school district.
21. Figure1. Academic Learning Space: TLEA Items 1 – 16
22. Figure2. Specialized Learning Space: TLEA Items 17 – 31
23. Figure3. Support Space: TLEA Items 32 – 41
24. Figure 4. Community/Parent Space: TLEA Items 42 – 47
25. Figure 5. Exterior Environment: TLEA Items 48-55
26. Figure 6. Interior Environment: TLEA Items 56-78
27. Figure 7. Visual Reinforcements: TLEA Items79 - 82
28. HVAC and Indoor Air Quality. The thermal comfort of the learning environment and its impact on student learning
Climate control and indoor air quality were identified as having the greatest influence on student achievement
Improved mechanical systems will trigger less allergy or asthma related illnesses, increase student attendance, and improve student academic achievement
Learning is adversely affected when students become ill because of indoor air quality issues.
The thermal comfort of a school facility can cause a similar affect on learning. The main comfort issue is cooling, not heating
When humidity and temperature increase; task performance and student achievement decrease. Building Conditions and Student Achievement
29. Lighting. Problems with lighting are often a result of facility condition and adversely affect student performance. The ability to bring natural light into a classroom will allow for significant increases in student performance. Heschong Mahone Group (2006) conducted a study of daylighting in schools by examining the performance of 21,000 students in California, Colorado, and Washington. The three elementary school district study found that the students attending school in the highest amount of daylit classrooms achieved 20% more on math and 26% more on reading tests than students in the least daylit facilities
Student performance is greatly impacted by classroom lighting. Inadequate illumination, glare, and poor cleaning of fixtures results in less than average student achievement for the room’s occupants.
The quantity of light and the quality of light are the two factors that must be considered. The quantity of light is how much illumination that is occurring at the desk top and is usually measured in foot-candles. The quality of light is typically based on whether the bulb is incandescent or fluorescent. Building Conditions and Student Achievement
30. Studies in the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) in Orange County, California found that the students in classrooms with natural lighting, large windows or well-designed skylights performed 19 to 26 percent better than their peers in classrooms without these features (Hale, 2002).
What about lighting?
31. Acoustics. An important element related to school building condition is acoustics. Bosch (2003) reported that a lack of understanding still exists regarding the effect of acoustical conditions on students. Higher student performance was found to be attributed to less noisy environments. when student struggle to hear, concentration and the learning process are diminished. A quality classroom environment limits background noise and reverberations while dampening outdoor noise.
If students are unable to hear they will miss essential instruction. Cohen and Weinstein (1981) found that unusual noise decreases the attention span of children and lowered performance.
The Acoustical Society of America has developed basic guidelines for optimal acoustics in educational environments. Many mechanical systems in school buildings exceed the decibel limits contained in the guidelines. Building Conditions and Student Achievement
32. Building Maintenance. The American Association of School Administrators’ (1992) report Schoolhouse in the Red, was one of the first studies to include building maintenance; “… on one hand, administrators today are faced with more old school buildings, which require additional maintenance; and on the other hand, they have smaller maintenance budgets to provide critical upkeep. The price for deferred maintenance has quadrupled in just eight years, from $25 billion to $100 billion….deferred maintenance spawns other costs as it speeds up deterioration of buildings and the need to replace equipment” (p. 7).
Students and staff are adversely impacted when renovations have not been made and the school facility is poorly maintained. Teachers in dilapidated buildings feel less valued than their peers who teach in newer and better quality school buildings
The life of a school building can be extended when routine maintenance is performed and this will positively impact the performance of students. Building Conditions and Student Achievement
33. Technology has had a profound impact on education and the required infrastructure needed to adequately support instruction and use.
Teachers value technology as an component of their instructional practice.
The need for a robust and stable computer network and infrastructure is critical in supporting students in today’s educational environment. The majority of schools must be retrofitted to support technology and yet these schools often lack the flexibility to adapt instructional technology. Building Conditions and Student Achievement
34. School Boards and administrators have little choice but to siphon funds from necessary maintenance budgets to try and maintain existing programs and staff. This path of least resistance occurs because the effects of delayed or cancelled renovation projects are not readily visible.
The relationship between building conditions and student achievement must be better understood so that the consequences that go along with these budget decisions can be fully understood.
The easy savings
35. Multiple factors appear to have caused the deterioration of school facilities in school districts across the country. Most of the causes relate to bad decisions due to a lack of information and the decreased budgets for renovations, repairs, and replacements.
As schools continue to age, maintenance cannot be reduced. Instead, it must continue on a regularly scheduled basis because problems compound themselves and systems deteriorate to beyond repair when maintenance continues to be deferred.
The untold story
36. A quality education is not dependent upon luxurious facilities, but it is also difficult to accomplish in an environment of neglect. The analysis of the literature and the results of the research has discovered that there are elements of the school facility condition that do impact student achievement
When students attend school in facilities that are in poor condition, student achievement is compromised. Behaviors and attitudes about deficient building conditions appear to be related. Because there is not one true definition of adequacy, varying elements must be taken into consideration when defining facility condition.
The impact of facility condition
37. Because teachers spend the majority of their waking hours in the classroom, it only stands to reason that they want the working environment to be pleasant and genuinely rewarding.
Worsening conditions and a deteriorating infrastructure in school facilities across the country negatively impacts the morale of those within the walls of the buildings. It’s the Teachers too!
38. The failure to maintain a facility could impact student attitudes, staff morale, and the community.
School facilities that are deteriorated and inadequate may result in reduced learning time, alienated students, inability to provide specialized curriculum, low staff morale, lack of technology proficiency, safety hazards, high rates of teacher attrition, and a reduced ability to meet special needs .