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          December 2000
SDPL Research
Effects of Student Population Density on Academic Achievement in Georgia Elementary Schools
(Under the direction of C. KENNETH TANNER)

This study was concerned with determining if density (crowded conditions) impacted the academic achievement of elementary school students. A bipolar sample was chosen in order to include schools whose ITBS scores were at the top and bottom of the range of scores. The population for this study included 48 elementary schools in seven counties in Georgia, all members of the Middle Georgia RESA (Regional Educational Services Agencies) area. The seven counties included: Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach, and Twiggs. Elementary schools that did not serve kindergarten through the fifth grade and magnet schools were excluded from the population.

A multiple regression analysis was employed to eliminate bias resulting from minority enrollment percentages, low socioeconomic status percentages, teacher experience, and teacher education. Thirty schools was selected from the population. Third grade ITBS results including reading comprehension, mathematics, language arts, social studies, science, and composite scores were utilized. The density of each school was determined by dividing the architectural area of the school by the student enrollment of the school. The information from one school was determined ineligible for use after it was found that it did not meet the requirements set for the population of the study.

The density of the remaining 29 schools was classified as high, medium, or low. These divisions were made on the basis of accumulative percentages to approximate one third in each classification. Cochran's and Bartlett-Box tests for homogeneity of variance were computed on the covariates of density class, percentages of Black enrollment, percentage of White enrollment, and percentage of free and reduced lunch percentages for each of the schools.

ITBS scores were classified as low or high according to their school's ranking in the bipolar sample. This was done to differentiate the ITBS scores of low and high ranking schools. General factorial analysis of variance with covariates of percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch services, percentage of Black students, and percentage of White students were computed for each of the achievement test areas.

Statistically significant differences in three of the six ITBS areas measured, third grade social studies, third grade science, and third grade composite were found. The means for all third grade achievement test scores of high density schools were lower than the third grade achievement test score means of medium and low density schools. Since, a statistically significant relationship between school density and the academic achievement of elementary school students was found and all means in low density schools were higher, it was concluded that high density had a negative impact on students in this sample.

Based on these findings, it was concluded that elementary schools having an architectural square footage of less than 100 square feet per student tend to have significantly lower science, social studies, and composite ITBS scores than schools having more than 100 architectural square feet per student. Schools ranging from 100.27 to 134.1 architectural square feet per student had significantly higher ITBS science, social studies, and composite scores at the third grade level.

INDEX WORDS: Academic Achievement, Class Size, Density, Learning Environment, Overcrowding, School Size

Posted on December 15, 2000

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