Do Better School Facilities Improve Learning?

A growing body of research demonstrates an explicit, measurable relationship between the physical characteristics of school buildings and effective (or ineffective) student learning. For Example:

Students learning in better building conditions earn 5-17% higher test scores than students in substandard buildings.(1)
Students' standardized achievement scores rose 10.9% in schools which improved building conditions from poor to excellent.(2)
Students experience a significant reduction in analytical ability, reading speed, and reading comprehension when classroom temperatures exceed 73.4 degrees.(3) In nine additional studies, the importance of a controlled thermal environment was stressed as necessary for satisfactory student performance.(4)
Students in classrooms with the most exposure to daylight progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading tests than those in classrooms with the least exposure to daylight.(5)
As the age of school buildings increase, the achievement scores of students tend to decrease.(6)
Facilities conditions may have a stronger impact on a student's academic performance than the combined influences of family background, socioeconomic status, and school attendance and behavior.(7)
When class sizes are reduced below 20 students, related increases in student achievement move the average student from the 50th percentile up to somewhere above the 60th percentile, with even greater achievement results for disadvantaged and minority students.(8)
Schools with better building conditions experience up to 14% lower suspension rates than those with unsatisfactory conditions.(9)
Quality of learning environment has a 66% greater impact on teacher retention than salary.(10)

(1) Earthman, G. "The Impact of School Building Condition and Student Achievement," Organization for Economic Coordination and Development Conference, Luxemburg, 1998; Moore, D., and Warner, E. "Where Children Learn: The Effect of Facilities on Student Achievement," Council of Education Facility Planners International, 1998; Morgan, L. "Where Children Learn: Facilities, Conditions and Student Test Performance in Milwaukee Public Schools," Council of Educational Facility Planners International, 2000.
(2) Edwards, M. "Building Conditions, Parental Involvement and Student Achievement in the D.C. Public School System," masters thesis, Georgetown University, 1992.
(3) Harner, David. "Effects of Thermal Environment on Learning Skills," CEFP Journal, April 1974.
(4) McGuffey ('82), Mayo ('55), Nolan ('60), Peccolo ('62), Stuart & Curtis ('64), McCardle ('66), Harner ('74), LeMasters ('77), & Chan ('80).
(5) Heschong_Mahone study.
(6) V.W. Ikpa, "The Norfolk Decision: Norfolk City Schools", 1992.
(7) Morgan, L. 2000.
(8)U.S. Dept. of Education, "Reducing Class Size: What Do We Know?," 2-14-02 DOE.
(9)Boese, S. "New York State School Facilities and Student Health, Achievement, and Attendance," Healthy Schools Network, Inc., 2005.
(10)Buckley, J. "The Effects of School Facility Quality on Teacher Retention in Urban School Districts," Department of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation, Boston College, 2004.