A new study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Boston University, and Stanford University finds that greater exposure to excessive heat by Black students compared to White students may be a factor in educational achievement gaps.
The researchers combined standardized achievement data for 58 countries and 12,000 U.S. school districts with detailed weather and academic calendar information to show that the rate of learning decreases when there is an increase in the number of hot school days.
They found that students throughout the world performed worse on standardized tests for every additional day of exposure to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. But in the United States, the researchers found that increased exposure to heat only impacted test scores for Black and Hispanic students, not for Whites. The authors speculate that schools attended by Blacks are less likely to have efficient air conditioning. These Black students, too, may lack adequate air conditioning in their home environments.
The authors conclude “that climatic differences may contribute to differences in educational achievement both across countries and within countries by socioeconomic status.”
The full study, “Learning Is Inhibited by Heat Exposure, Both Internationally and Within the United States,” was published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, It may be accessed here.