Academic journal article Journal of Intercultural Disciplines

School Buildings, Socioeconomic Status, Race, and Student Achievement

Academic journal article Journal of Intercultural Disciplines

School Buildings, Socioeconomic Status, Race, and Student Achievement

Article excerpt


Many educational initiatives have emerged over the last decades to boost academic success and to close the achievement gap, a concern of parents, educators, and policymakers. There is an expectation that investment in public education lead to students' success and skills to either compete in the job market upon graduation from high school or entry into college. Many states developed standardized tests to measure student academic performance. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) was developed in 1998 for this purpose. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 nationalized the use of standardized tests to measure educational outcomes (Hayes, 2009). However, no panacea has emerged.

It is therefore prudent to consider the condition of school buildings as a variable. Aesthetically pleasing and adequately maintained school facilities impact students' dropout rates, attendance, and academic performance (Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, 2010). To help design and construct educational facilities that optimize the opportunity for learning, Florida Statute, Chapter 1013 implemented the State Uniform Building Code for Public Educational Facilities Construction (UBC). The UBC is contained in the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) publication, State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF). The SREF became effective January 5, 2000 and required all educational and ancillary facilities constructed to comply with the UBC (Florida Senate Website Archive, 2013).

The purpose of this research was to ascertain the impact of school facility, old or new buildings, socioeconomic status, and race on the academic achievement of fourth, eighth, ninth, and tenth grade students as measured by the mathematics and reading subtests of the FCAT. Bosch (2006) noted that researchers in education, environmental psychology, and architecture have found a relationship between school facilities, academic achievement, and behavior.

Literature Review

Socioeconomic Status (SES)

The American Psychological Association (APA) (2015) described SES as a combination of education, income, and occupation. The APA noted SES is commonly characterized as the social standing or class of an individual or group. SES evokes notions of privilege, power, and control when viewed economically, culturally, or politically. Research by the APA determined that those with higher SES have more access to opportunities and networks to succeed.

The US General Accounting Office (GAO) (1996) correlated socioeconomic factors to school facility condition. Schools that consistently reported inadequate buildings and unsatisfactory environmental conditions such as deferred maintenance; and inadequate acoustical control, lighting, indoor air quality, and temperature, represented a unique subgroup. The GAO noted that this subgroup comprised schools in large urban areas, reporting student populations of at least 50.5% minority and 70% or more students receiving free or reduced meals emerged as those with the most adverse building conditions.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2010) defined socioeconomic status as a school's poverty measure, or the percentage of enrollment that is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL) through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The NCES (2012) classified schools by the percentages of students eligible for the FRPL; low-poverty (less than 25%), mid-low poverty (26%-50%), mid-high poverty (51-75%), and high-poverty (76% or more). The NCES determined that for the 2007 school year, 6 million elementary and 1 million secondary students were educated in high-poverty US public schools. Most troubling, the combination of low SES, hence higher concentrations of poverty, and inadequate school facilities affected minority students' academic performance the most (NCES, 2012).


The NCES (2012) also categorized schools by the concentration of minority enrollment: less than 25% (low), 26%-49% (mid-low), 50%-74% (mid-high), and over 75% (high). …

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