Environmental noise in urban classrooms can take a toll on students’ math test scores, finds a study in Urban Education.
Researchers tested 122 students, ages 14 to 18 and overwhelmingly low-income, in an urban district using an adaptive computer-based math assessment. While the students were tested, the researchers tracked ambient sounds in and near the classroom—phones ringing, conversations in the halls, and pounding on walls among them.
The researchers found average noise levels during the two days of testing was more than 62 decibels, nearly double the 35 decibels recommended for classrooms, and at times, it went as high as 85 decibels. Researchers found the more students reported the noise bothered them, the lower their math scores. They found stress from noise accounted for 10 percent of the overall difference in students’ math scoresequal to the difference made by students’ prior grade point averages.
A version of this article appeared in the December 02, 2015 edition of Education Week as Achievement Gap