School & District Management Report Roundup

School Climate

“Effects of Ambient Noise on the Measurement of Mathematics Achievement for Urban High School Students”
By Sarah D. Sparks — November 13, 2018 1 min read

Urban schools can be noisier than suburban and rural schools, and a new study in the journal Urban Education suggests that background noise can significantly distract students during testing time.

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, researchers tracked 122 high school students’ reactions to background noise in a large, high-poverty urban school district. In more than 250 sound tests over two days, the researchers found the average noise level in the schools was 63.7 decibels, and never got below 35 decibels, the recommended limit for classes.

Forty percent of the students said the noise bothered them while taking a standardized math test, and the more bothered they were, the lower their scores. In fact, differences in students’ reactions to the noise accounted for 10 percent of the gap in students’ test scores.

A version of this article appeared in the November 14, 2018 edition of Education Week as School Climate

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