School Facility Conditions and Student Achievement, Attendance, and Behavior in an Urban Elementary School in Southeastern Virginia
Richardson, Callie Marvin
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The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships between facility conditions and student achievement, attendance, and behavior in an urban elementary school in southeastern Virginia. Most United States schools were constructed prior to 1960 (Phillips, 1997). As public school buildings aged and deteriorated, researchers became interested in determining links between facilities and student achievement (Lewis, 1983; Cash, 1993; Phillips, 1997; NCES, 1999). Research suggests links between specific facility conditions and student achievement, attendance, and behavior. This study examined student achievement, attendance, and the behavior of students in an eighty year-old facility and compared the same students as they transitioned into a new facility. The literature review examined existing literature and discussed major concepts relating to specific building conditions, and findings of empirical studies from across the United States and abroad. Few of these studies looked at schools that transitioned from an old building to a new building. This study employed a mixed-methods approach allowing the researcher to examine effects of facility conditions on attendance, behavior, and achievement in reading and mathematics as evidenced by standardized test scores using Virginia Standards of Learning Tests. The researcher used focus groups with students, parents, and teachers to qualitatively document the relationship between facility condition and behavior of urban students who transitioned from an eighty year-old facility to a new facility in southeastern Virginia. The findings of this study were varied. Paired t-tests were run to determine whether there were differences in achievement, attendance, and behavior when students transitioned from an old facility to a newly-constructed facility. When student cohorts were combined, students performed significantly better in reading and mathematics. However, when students were separated by cohort, results varied. Paired t-tests were conducted to examine gender differences for each cohort. Gender did play a role in the improvement of female students. Three themes emerged from focus groups: (1) the significance of technology in enhancing student achievement and instructional quality, (2) the feeling of pride as a catalyst for positive behavior; and (3) the impact of space, cleanliness, and lighting on behavior and achievement.
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