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Individual Highlight

Support a child’s education by planting neighborhood trees?

Photo of Schoolyard trees around an elementary school in Portland, Oregon.Schoolyard trees around an elementary school in Portland, Oregon.Snapshot : Greenness around a child’s home and school is associated with higher scores on standardized math and reading tests, whereas proximity to major roads is associated with lower scores.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Donovan, GeoffreyGatziolis, Demetrios
Research Location : Oregon
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2018
Highlight ID : 1417


Several studies have found that exposure to the natural environment is associated with better performance of standardized tests, However, all but one of these studies have used aggregate school-level measures of academic performance, and all have exclusively focused on the natural environment around a child's school and not their home. Failing to account for the home environment may be problematic, as recent research has shown that environmental measures that fail to account for a person's entire "activity space" mis-specify environmental exposure and lead to inaccurate estimates of effect. Accounting for school and home environments A team of scientists, including Geoffrey Donovan and Demetrios Gatziolis with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, used individual test scores from more than 17,000 students to estimate the effects of a child's school and home environment on his or her test scores. They found that children with more trees around their homes to do better on standardized math tests while more trees around a school were associated with higher reading scores. Close proximity of a child's home or school to high-traffic roads was associated with lower standardized test scores. Their results suggest that the natural environment around a child's home and school can positively affect cognitive development and academic performance, whereas road density may negatively impact both cognitive development and academic performance.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Drexel University