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Parents Fear Classroom Temperatures Overheat Students
2017-07-04 20:42:44
Maricor Zapata

There is concern in New Jersey for schools closing for extreme temperatures, and it threatens the well being of the students.

Nelson Ribon is the acting superintendent of Trenton public schools in New Jersey, U.S.where students got out of school early on Monday and Tuesday of this week because of the incredible heat wave sweeping through the state.New Jersey is hardly the only state in the U.S.or even throughout the world that is setting records for its temperatures already even prior to the actual onset of summer.These temperatures impinge upon the well being of students simply via severity, but in the process, they curtail the learning process and hinder academic achievement.Studies show that there is a temporal, requisite form of wellness required to perform adequately in class, and parents grow concerned when a heat wave is hot enough to shut down school.

The weather forecast Monday morning was incredibly overwhelming with all its predictions of extreme highs in the 90s with high humidity to boot.This convinced Superintendent Ribon that it was in students’ best interest for both health and academic achievement to give thousands of public school students throughout Trenton, New Jersey half the day off twice consecutively at the start of the week.The temperatures were too much for these students to be expected to learn all day from Ribon’s perspective.

Research has amassed for decades concerning the correlation between students’ academic performance and their respective classroom temperatures.The accumulation of such studies over time led the fields of psychology and other interested social sciences toward exploring methods that could improve the quality of the average student’s learning environment.Ideally, the ultimate objective of these studies is, of course, to remove any environmental factor that impinges upon the student’s performance in school, but what is, perhaps, most significant about this is that it pertains to factors that could potentially hinder, for example, a student’s ability to internalize information or complete tasks efficiently.This is the line of reasoning that necessitates research concerning classroom temperature’s correlation with student performance.

There are 20 public schools in the state’s capital, and less than half of them are air conditioned, according to Robin.He says that this means a minimum of 7,000 staff and students are enduring extremes to reach the end of the school year with temperatures continually skyrocketing.

“You’re dealing with the heat wave, there’s only so much you can do,” said Ribon. “I’m positive we’re not the only district dealing with this.” Statewide, districts comprised of un-air-conditioned schools have to choose very judiciously how best to react to rising temperatures.

One significant study conducted back in 2004 by high school students at Westview High School in Portland, Oregon, U.S.—a study that has been published by National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, cited by innumerable research articles since and is uniquely pertinent to this—explores the correlation between classroom temperatures and academic performance quite thoroughly, meticulously looking for a link between classroom ventilation rate and test scores.The study made allowances for either or both of ventilation rate and temperature to be linked to test scores.The distinguishing characteristic about this study is that it employs a large database and multilevel analyses, which includes metric data on thermal parameters and ventilation in addition to the scores on standardized tests for student-level data.The study’s results make it logical to infer that sustaining thermal comfort and standard ventilation may raise test scores and even improve performance overall.

There’s no law in New Jersey mandating that schools be properly air-conditioned or that any attempt be made, according to Michael Yaple, New Jersey Education Department spokesperson.He said the state also provides no guidance for districts regarding when students should and should not be sent home on the basis of temperature.In other words, there is simply no acknowledgement of the problem represented in state legislation. “Those are decisions handled locally,” according to Yaple.

Students at Westview High School in Portland, Oregon conducted a comprehensive study in which they organized a series of aptitude tests for ninth graders in rooms with variegated temperatures, intending to determine how temperature improved or encroached on their performance levels.The experiment analyzes the significance of temperature’s impact on student performance.The research was geared toward figuring out what temperature is most universally conducive to sustaining the longest spans of attention, and the students that organized the study hypothesized that a “neutral” temperature (i.e.neither too cool nor too warm) facilitates students’ abilities to pay better attention.

This Westview High School team administered an original test to ninth graders across six separate classes, and the examination included a test of how well students memorized shapes, recreated shapes, named fundamental shapes, named basic colors, and solved rudimentary equations.Groups tested were all of the same age to ensure that all students had the same opportunity to perform to comparable standards, which was a means of controlling variability from one class to another.

The likely causes for error in round one were probably inclusive of the fact that tests were administered in separate rooms with different posters, which could feasibly have affected students’ attention spans.Rooms also varied in sunlight for various reasons (e.g.time of day, number of windows letting in sunlight, etc.), and the fact that different tests had different administrators also had to have contributed to the margin of error because different administrators explained the instructions differently.In the second round, however, data collection was more conclusive, highlighting temperature as an affective factor in students’ attention spans.Though the data is not so strong as to provide irrefutable evidence or even indicate with any exactness a measure or means of measuring the effect temperature has on students’ attention spans, tests do consistently add validity to the notion that classroom temperature does, indeed, affect those attention spans.

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