Improving Indoor Air Quality In Schools Leads To Higher Test Scores

Improving Indoor Air Quality In Schools Leads To Higher Test Scores

Education budgets are tight. Politicians are busy putting limits on school budgets to “put more money in the classroom.” The problem is – if you do not provide safe, healthy and encouraging environments, it does not matter how much you restrict spending on infrastructure, the end product – educated students – is going to be limited.

Now, we know that sounds a bit over-dramatic or simplified, but the reality is that environmental conditions, specifically the indoor air quality your commercial HVAC system provides, have a real-world impact on student performance.

An Indoor Epidemic

Over 5o million people in the United States spend the majority of their days in elementary and secondary schools annually.  Approximately 25 percent of public schools reported that ventilation was unsatisfactory, while indoor air quality (IAQ) was reported to be outright unsatisfactory in about twenty percent of schools.

Poor indoor air quality can impact the comfort and health of students and staff, which in turn can affect concentration, attendance, and student performance. Schools that fail to respond promptly and effectively to poor IAQ run the risk of increased short-term health problems, such as fatigue and nausea, as well as long-term health problems like asthma.

In serious cases, schools have been shut down and have had to move staff and students to temporary facilities. Delaying remediation of IAQ problems can also be costly and may even lead to liability claims and lawsuits that can damage a school’s reputation. Clearly, IAQ issues are best addressed early on and better still, proactively.

The Science is Settled

In a very interesting controlled study produced by Dr. Richard Shaughnessy, et. al., and published in the Journal of Indoor Air (December 2006) it was found that indoor air quality had a significant impact on test scores of students.

This study was done with 55 Fifth grade elementary school classrooms. Ventilation rates were calculated from CO2 concentrations. Student performance was based on standardized math and reading tests. Other factors such as male/female ratios, free lunch program, limited English, gifted student percentage, absenteeism rate and ethnicity were all neutralized.

The study showed that increased ventilation rates had a significant impact on math and reading test scores. With a ventilation rate of less than 5 cubic feet per minute, or cfm, the average math scores were 56.32 and the average reading scores were 47.73. When ventilation rates were above 10 cfm, average math scores rose to 64.46 and reading scores to 54.27. This equated to a 14.7% increase in math scores and a 13.7% increase in reading scores with improved ventilation. Even the best teachers would be very happy with this type of increase!

If your classrooms or corporate training facilities could benefit from improved indoor air quality and better air circulation, give Fox Commercial Services a call today!

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