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The Relationship Between School Design Variables and Scores on the Iowa
Test of Basic Skills
Doctoral Dissertation
The University of Georgia
(Under the direction of Dr. C. Kenneth Tanner)

There are many factors that affect student achievement. This study explored one factor that historically has received little attention by educational leaders: the influence of school facilities on student achievement. More specifically, this study explored the relationship of 38 middle school design elements, identified in the literature, to student achievement as measured by the eighth grade Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). The purpose of the study was to attempt to determine if any of the 38 school design elements positively or negatively related to the ITBS scores. The setting of the study included 14 contiguous counties in central Georgia. Within those counties, 50 middles schools were identified for the population of the study. An analysis of covariance was performed on those 50 schools to remove bias from the composite ITBS scores related to socio-economic status, race and teacher experience. The schools were then ranked by composite ITBS scores. The top 11 and bottom 11 schools were selected as the sample. Site visits were made to those schools and the Design Appraisal Scale for the Middle (DASM) was applied during the visits. The results of the DASM were then used to determine significant positive correlations between the design factors and the ITBS scores. The analysis found 27 DASM design factors that had significant positive correlations to the composite ITBS scores. Seven of the design factors (Multifunctionality, Play Areas, Activity Pockets, Green Areas, Exit Doors to the Outside, Overall Impression, and Administration Centrally Located) entered into the prediction equation for all components of the ITBS. Based upon the results of the analysis, recommendations were made. One of the recommendations was that facility planners should give serious consideration to designing learning environments outside of the traditional classroom. Another recommendation was that more attention should be given to the exterior design of school buildings.

INDEX WORDS: School Facilities, School Design, Architecture, Student Achievement, Middle School Education, Test Scores, Iowa Test of Basic Skills, Design Factors.

Posted by Ken Tanner (October 1999)

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