The Playground/Math Association

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playgroundRuss  Lopez and his two buddies are the Defenders of the Playground.  I picture them with capes and swords, but actually they’re profs (Lopez from Boston University and the others from Tufts) who just studied the association between elementary school playgrounds and test scores.  According to BU Today today:

When Lopez studied the 2003 results of the fourth-grade English language MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System), standardized tests that almost all public school students must take, he saw no discernible differences between children at the 70 schools with new playgrounds and children at schools with old playgrounds.

But when he looked at math scores, he saw a very different picture. In schools where fourth graders had new playgrounds, 25 percent more kids passed the math MCAS. And that remained true after he and his team controlled for factors such as demographics and the number of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

Of course, as the article goes on to explain, that doesn’t mean that building more playgrounds will automatically raise test scores — there could be other factors in play (so to speak).  But, especially in comparison to the English tests results, it’s certainly an interesting finding and I look forward to reading the follow-up.

The playground photo was taken by drk_faerie.

3 Responses to “The Playground/Math Association”

  1. Chris Says:

    Perhaps the schools that can afford new playgrounds can also afford better teachers. And I guess math education pays off faster than English?

  2. Ξ Says:

    That’s a good question about math education paying off faster than English…I wonder if the learning curves (?) for those are different. The article also mentions that better playgrounds could be reflective of something like more parental involvement, or a nicer atmosphere for learning. And actually, now that I think about it, better playgrounds don’t always translate to more recess [something which appears to be in short supply these days].

    Still, it may be physical activity during the day helps with learning in a (statistically) significant way.

  3. Gum and Math: Is there a connection? REALLY? « 360 Says:

    […] and Math: Is there a connection? REALLY? By Ξ Last week I was all excited about an article showing a connection between schools with playgrounds and higher math scores.  As it happens, at the very same time there was another a news report about higher test scores.  […]

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