As educators have long known, there is no magic solution to improve academic performance across the student body. Experienced teachers and an engaging curriculum have a long way to go, but external factors often play the same role. Now, a new study has drawn a special link between pupils and something that many children have to deal with every morning: school bus fumes.
A study published in 2006. t Education Education Review, compared standardized student test results from a range of school districts across Georgia. Surprising data showed that school districts that invested in upgrading school buses with emission-reducing systems had higher test results than not.
Anyone who rides in a school bus knows what it's like to sit in a weak cloud of diesel fumes. At the very least, this is unpleasant and scientists suggest that this forced air pollution has a measurable negative impact on students in school districts that have not yet improved their buses.
When comparing the test results, the researchers found that schools with clean burn buses had a significantly higher English test score and a slightly higher math score.
"We have found strong and convincing evidence that the reconstruction of school buses has led to improvements in academic performance, especially in English tests," explains the scientists. "Based on our estimates, if the district is to renew its entire fleet, the impact on English test results would be slightly greater than the shift from teacher to novice to five years of experience.
Be careful not to establish a connection if it was not, the study also looked at other metrics such as body mass index to exclude the possibility that schools with modified buses would simply be "healthier" and thus put more emphasis on success. The team found no connection between schools with clean buses and BMI numbers, which further suggests that air pollution management was indeed the cause of higher academic performance.
Available modifications to existing buses, which scientists recognize, are relatively inexpensive and can pollute pollutants by up to 95%, gradually rolling in most of Georgia and many other states.