A Study of the Relationship between Selected School Building Facility Components and Student Achievement in Pennsylvania Middle Schools

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 1-1-2008


Campus Only

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Launcelot Brown

Committee Member

Mary Frances Grasinger

Committee Member

James M. Longo

Committee Member

Glen Earthman


lighting, daylighting, thermal factors, acoustics, building conditions, student academic achievement


This study examined the relationship between selected school building components -- lighting, thermal factors, and acoustics -- and student academic achievement. The sample comprised 99 Pennsylvania middle schools. The School's Physical Environment Variables Assessment (SPEVA) was developed for the study. Data were collected on the quality of school building components from building principals via the online survey, Survey Monkey. Three levels of school building conditions were determined by the principals' answers. Poor schools comprised the lower level, adequate or average schools included the middle level, and excellent schools consisted of the top level. The percentage of males and females who passed the 2006-2007 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) in reading and mathematics was used as a measure of student academic achievement.

The study was based on survey responses from ninety-nine Pennsylvania middle school principals who were asked to evaluate the three stated environmental factors of their own buildings. Results indicated that most of the responding schools were either built or renovated within the last 20 years. The PSSA test percentages for girls and boys who passed reading and mathematics were then correlated to the condition of the schools that responded to the SPEVA survey. Schools that were classified in the top level of thermal factors showed a higher percentage of males passing math than those who scored in the middle or bottom levels. Results of the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) for thermal factors indicated that thermal factors, including heating and air conditioning, were a significant (p.05) predictor of the percentage of students passing the PSSA test in mathematics for both boys and girls, uniquely explaining 4% of the variance of percentage of males who passed math and 3.5% of the variance of the percentage of females who passed math. Less than 1% of the males who passed reading were affected by the lighting and acoustics variables, and none of the three building components showed measurable effect on female academic performance as measured by the percentage of females passing the PSSA reading test. Analyses of variance of thermal factors and student academic achievement showed a weak correlation in relation to the percentage of males passing the mathematics portion of the PSSA. The only significant difference between student scores was found in the mathematics section of PSSA for male students. This finding of this study regarding the significant difference in math scores for male students supports previous research for the subject area of mathematics.





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