School & District Management Report Roundup

School Design

By Sarah D. Sparks — October 02, 2018 1 min read

Maybe the grass really is greener for high-achieving, high-poverty schools. A new study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology finds a link between academic achievement and tree cover in high-poverty Chicago schools.

The study measured tree and grass cover for 318 public elementary schoolyards and their surrounding neighborhoods, using high-resolution aerial imagery.

It found that the more tree cover over a school, the higher the math-test scores of its students, even after accounting for socioeconomic and racial differences among students. The same was true to a lesser extent of the neighborhoods.

While the schools in the study all had high-poverty and high-minority student populations, the most disadvantaged schools had only half as many trees as the schools with lower concentrations of students of color and those in poverty. The researchers are not sure why trees are linked to math achievement but believe they may boost the physical or emotional climate of the school.

A version of this article appeared in the October 03, 2018 edition of Education Week as School Design

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