Effects of Classroom Ventilation Rate and Temperature on Students' Test Scores

PLoS One. 2015 Aug 28;10(8):e0136165. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0136165. eCollection 2015.


Using a multilevel approach, we estimated the effects of classroom ventilation rate and temperature on academic achievement. The analysis is based on measurement data from a 70 elementary school district (140 fifth grade classrooms) from Southwestern United States, and student level data (N = 3109) on socioeconomic variables and standardized test scores. There was a statistically significant association between ventilation rates and mathematics scores, and it was stronger when the six classrooms with high ventilation rates that were indicated as outliers were filtered (> 7.1 l/s per person). The association remained significant when prior year test scores were included in the model, resulting in less unexplained variability. Students' mean mathematics scores (average 2286 points) were increased by up to eleven points (0.5%) per each liter per second per person increase in ventilation rate within the range of 0.9-7.1 l/s per person (estimated effect size 74 points). There was an additional increase of 12-13 points per each 1°C decrease in temperature within the observed range of 20-25°C (estimated effect size 67 points). Effects of similar magnitude but higher variability were observed for reading and science scores. In conclusion, maintaining adequate ventilation and thermal comfort in classrooms could significantly improve academic achievement of students.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Temperature*
  • Ventilation*

Grants and funding

The data collection was supported by a collaborative grant from the Cleaning Industry Research Institute International (Albany NY, USA) and ISSA-The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (Lincolnwood IL, USA) as a part of project "Clean standards research for schools K-12". The authors had no funding for data analyses and publication of the results.