What the Michigan Study About Pollution and Education Really Is Telling Us

There’s a recent study that examines the effect of pollution on educational performance in Michigan. Basically, the authors found that test scores were significantly lower for the two ‘most polluted’ quintiles of schools (i.e., the worst forty percent), even after controlling for income, school absence, school location, and other factors.
But there’s something else obvious that jumps out at you. In the appendix, tables 2 and 3 examine the effects of a bunch of different variables on math and English NAEP scores (the NAEP is widely considered to be the gold standard for testing student achievement).
Now, what could that possibly be?

The effect of the percentage of low-income students in a school on student achievement is greater than any other effect. Full stop. The second most important variable? Attendance (which is much weaker).
That’s not to say that pollution doesn’t matter–it does. And when building new schools, we should site them in unpolluted areas. But poverty is the dominant effect here.
Just something to keep in mind.
Cited article: Mohai, P., B.-S, Kweon, S. Lee, & K. Ard. 2011. Air Pollution Around Schools Is Linked To Poorer Student Health And Academic Performance. Health Aff May 2011, doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0077

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6 Responses to What the Michigan Study About Pollution and Education Really Is Telling Us

  1. Rheb-El says:

    Am I reading the data wrong, or is number of students per classroom the number two factor and attendance number three–both far behind poverty?

  2. CC says:

    This may be exactly what the Republicans in Michigan are working on with making 3-10% cuts to education (difference between house and senate education bills) even though there is a surplus in the School Aid Fund that could increase spending at the K-12 level by about 2-3%.
    Make. Everyone. Poor.
    See. Simple. Now poverty won’t be an outlying factor.

  3. The matter that you are discussing is very interesting. Many people should be aware about this thing.

  4. Dean says:

    CC, my last understanding was that the plan by the michigan republicans is to use the school fund excess for something else – higher ed, I believe, in a weak partial attempt to make up for cuts there.

  5. plumbing says:

    Today, we must study about pollution and education that you guys did. It is good that we study that two cases because pollution and education are two of the biggest aspects here in our land.

  6. plumbing says:

    Pollution and Education have big factors.If we are educated with this kind of pollution we can do ways on how to control it.And if we have knowledge on the effects that it may cause we will do something enable to stop this bad habit.

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