Study shows environmental greenness may not improve student test scores

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

A new study conducted by researchers at the University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service shows a lack of evidence that environmental greenness correlates with higher academic performance.

Illinois researchers gathered third-grade students’ scores for reading and math from Chicago public schools and compared them to the density of greenery in Chicago neighborhoods. The researchers used greenness data from NASA to figure out how much vegetation was on CPS campuses.

For the study, anything that has chlorophyll, including, but not limited to, plants, shrubs, bushes, trees and grass was considered vegetation.

Illinois researchers replicated the method used in a similar study conducted in Massachusetts, but found problems with the previous study’s procedure.

Matthew Browning, professor in AHS, lead the team conducting the study and said that the Illinois researchers took into account other factors that the Massachusetts study did not consider, including the fact that CPS schools usually have a higher amount of minority students.

The results of the study conducted by Illinois researchers showed negative correlations between greenery and academic performance, meaning more vegetation did not have a positive impact on test scores. The Massachusetts study, on the other hand, showed a positive correlation.

The researchers hypothesized that either the difference in foliage between Chicago and Massachusetts or the differences in the student populations affected the results.

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