Study Claims School Facilities Impact Teacher Retention More Than Pay

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A particularly interesting recent study by Jack Buckley, Mark Schneider, and Yi Shang looks at the impact of the quality of school facilities on teacher retention in urban school districts. Using data from a survey of K-12 teachers in Washington, D.C., the study finds that quality of the school building plays an important role in a teacher's decision to leave his or her school. In fact, the authors claim that teachers frustration with rundown school buildings contributes more to teachers' decisions to leave than dissatisfaction with pay.

This study will surely resonate with anyone who has ever worked in the classroom. Buckley et al. review five environmental factors that have been shown to affect both teacher attrition and student achievement-- poor indoor air quality, inability to control classroom temperature, inadequate lighting, insufficient amount of natural light and excessive external noise. Of particular note, a study by the Heschong Mahone Group found that students with the most classroom daylight progressed 26% faster in one year on reading tests than students who received the least amount of natural light. Assuming the Heschong Mahone Group is not a skylight installation firm, that is a remarkable finding. Check out this study - it's brief and it offers an unusual perspective on teacher attrition and student achievement.