How about boosting learning by 8/10ths of a school year for just $63/student?
Education Week has an interesting article (subscription?) up about “Air Filters: A Potential Tool to Boost Learning?” Apparently, back in 2015 there was a major gas leak in the Los Angeles area, and air filtration systems were installed in nearby schools to help protect students. One year later, student test scores improved by about 0.18 standard deviation in reading and by 0.20 of a standard deviation in math.
Converting that into something the rest of us can understand, back in 2013 the CREDO crowd at Stanford University published “Charter School Performance in Louisiana,” which shows a conversion between standard deviations to days of learning in a graphic on Page 21. In this chart 0.10 standard deviation equates to 72 days of extra learning.
So, in English, the results in the schools covered in the Los Angeles air filter study would add somewhere around 144 days of extra learning compared to students in unfiltered environments. That’s the better part of a full extra year (about 8/10th of a year more) of learning!
The article says the filtering added about $1,000 in cost per classroom for the year. But, electricity cost on the West Coast is higher than in Kentucky, so our bill might be less than that.
Let’s just estimate about 16 to 18 students per classroom (some run more) at $1,000 per year, that would work out to a per pupil expenditure of about $55 to $63 per year or so even at California electrical costs.
Given that the latest 2017-18 Revenues and Expenditures report from the Kentucky Department of Education shows the state’s average total per pupil expenditures that year were $15,111, we need an increase of only 0.4% in spending per pupil to do this filtering treatment.
I’ll bet that spending around $60 more per pupil to get nearly a year more learning is a better return on education investment than anything else we might be considering right now.
Maybe it’s time to consider better air for our kids and get a nice learning increase as a bonus.