Do Physical School Settings Influence Student Success?

How capital investments improve school building conditions? Do school facility conditions and investments affect student performance? Do facility conditions and investments influence other aspects of the school setting that could indirectly impact student success?

Although vast resources are spent upgrading public school facilities, little is known about whether and how these physical improvements impact student achievement. There is some evidence to suggest that capital investment following successful bond elections leads to higher test scores at the district level six years later. Less is known about whether capital spending is linked to measurable changes in building conditions, whether specific schools were targeted for investment, and whether the investment produced shifts in the student population. Stange will pursue these questions by capitalizing on an un-digitized dataset that houses detailed information about schools’ physical conditions and facilities from 1990–1991 for every public elementary and secondary school in Texas. Stange possesses a less exhaustive but comparable dataset from 2006 as well as information on all school bond elections from 1996–2009 and administrative student-level, district-level, and campus-level data from 1994–2011. He will compare students in districts in which a bond measure narrowly passes to those in which one narrowly fails.

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