The Relationship Between School Design and Achievement in New York City, New York’s Low-Income Public Schools
School building design and quality, and its relationship to student achievement is a growing area of interest for architects, urban planners, and designers. However, in New York City, when educational performance is assessed by administrators, building quality and design are rarely taken into consideration as detrimental factors. In addition, schools located in low-income neighborhoods tend to be older, more crowded, and more uncomfortable than those located in higher-income areas. In these areas, features of the physical environment often interact with socioeconomic factors to negatively effect school performance.
Researchers at Cornell University studied the connection between school building quality and student stability, socioeconomic background, and scores on standardized achievement tests in 511 public elementary schools in the New York City school system. “We found that students attending schools with lower building quality and those attending schools with high student mobility had lower test scores,” says Gary Evans — a professor of design and environmental analysis. The researchers also discovered that when these risk factors are combined, they have a particularly negative impact on academic achievement.
The research findings provide insight into the potential of school building design to mitigate the negative effects of socioeconomic factors on school achievement and may shape the future of urban design, urban planning, and school architecture in low-income neighborhoods in New York City and beyond. It may be crucial that the modern design plans of school buildings in low-income neighborhoods ensure that school facilities are maintained or improved.
Is the argument for the link between school building quality and achievement convincing? What other physical or socioeconomic factors may be at work in negatively effecting academic achievement?
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