If we would put financial resources into our classrooms instead of into faulty tests, oppressive teacher evaluation systems, data collection systems, computer learning schemes, and the privatization of our schools, we would finally see the results we have been searching for the last two decades. We would see happy, joyful children exploring new learning everyday.
Here is the article:
Social scientists have known for several years that kids enrolled in run-down schools miss more classes and have lower test scores than students at well-maintained schools. But they haven’t been able to pin down why.
A Cornell environmental psychologist has an answer.
Lorraine Maxwell’s study of more than 230 New York City public middle schools found that a school’s social climate – from its academic expectations to the level of communication, respect and engagement among its students, teachers and parents – is a major missing link.
Maxwell, an associate professor of design and environmental analysis in the College of Human Ecology, found a chain reaction at work, stemming from poor building conditions. Leaking toilets, smelly cafeterias, broken furniture, classrooms that were too hot or too cold, moldy walls and plaster falling off ceilings made students feel negatively about the school’s norms and expectations. That negative perception of the school’s social climate contributed to high absenteeism. In turn, that contributed to low test scores and poor academic achievement.
“School buildings that are in good condition and attractive may signal to students that someone cares and there’s a positive social climate, which in turn may encourage better attendance,” Maxwell said. “Students cannot learn if they do not come to school.”
Her study, “School Building Condition, Social Climate, Student Attendance and Academic Achievement: A Mediation Model,” appears in the Journal of Environmental Psychology’s June issue.