A study of the effect school facility conditions have on student achievement

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Lair, Susan Brooks

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The purpose of this study was to explore the effect school facilities have on student achievement as measured by the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, TAAS, test in a high-performing, high-poverty school district in Texas. A relationship between the condition of school facilities and student achievement, while assumed, is difficult to assess. This study contains a presentation of the information and data findings from the Ysleta Independent School District and its decision in 1994 to include school facilities as a component of its student achievement initiative. The schools were randomly selected and the case study research was conducted using a mixed-method approach. Data provided by the schools’ principals on building structure, maintenance, and housekeeping were collected using a questionnaire based in part on the “Commonwealth Assessment of Physical Environment” used by Cash (1993), Hines (1996) and Lanham (1999) in Virginia. Student achievement was measured using the percent of students at each school passing the TAAS sub-tests of reading, mathematics, and writing and the percent passing all the TAAS tests from 1994 to 2001. The effect school facility conditions have on student achievement found definition through the major themes of risky decisions, powerful people, buildings matter and accountability. The study resulted in findings that merit attention and support previous research that points to building age, overall building maintenance and cleanliness as elements that help explain student achievement. These findings were limited due to the self-reported nature of information collected using surveys, the small sample size of schools, and the aggregate nature of the data that can obscure or neglect important evidence. Nevertheless, since the goal of the Texas education system is to improve student achievement, the identification of barriers to achievement brought on by the condition of school facilities is important.



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