Why is it So Cold in These Classrooms?


Being cold in a classroom is a daily struggle for many students. But there seems to be some sort of method to this madness. When questioning why many classrooms are cold, some teachers claim that there is some sort of correlation between the temperature of a classroom and the success of the students within it. I began to truly question if this supposed connection existed after shivering in one too many classes. Teachers do not have control of how cold their classrooms are so I do not blame any individual teacher for my exaggerated pain, but the conscious decision to maintain a cold temperature within ACT/SAT, and AP testing rooms is worth investigating.

To my surprise, there have been many experiments testing this theory. A school in Portland, Oregon seems to have encountered this same question and went to great lengths to test all factors involved. They conducted the same experiment twice, the initial time only slightly changing the temperature within the three categories: cold, controlled, and hot classrooms. The initial trial showed slight variations with test grades. It wasn’t until they severely shifted the  divide between the temperatures, with a nearly 10 degree difference, that the impact of the temperature of the classrooms began to show. From the first trial it was clear that the “hot classroom” lead to a significantly lower average of test grades, with the cold and controlled classrooms yielding very similar results. However, in the second and final trial the cold classroom lead to an average test grade of 76%, the hot classroom lead to an average of 72%, and the control classroom with the temperature of 72 degrees averaged a shocking 90%.

The further I looked at sources, the more these results rang true. I read article after article of teachers telling of their own experiences with their students’ inability to focus, if the temperature exceeded 80 degrees. With the already wavering focus of a classroom full of wiry teens, the temperature seems to be the least of many teacher’s worries, understandably so. But these drastic and reoccurring results  seems to paint a differing reality. All of this is not to say that teachers’ should somehow regain control of the temperatures in their classrooms or spend all their time worrying about maintaining their class at a crisp 72 degrees over indulging students in well thought out lesson plans. It should simply be known that completely freezing a gym full of AP testers or high strung ACT/SAT students may in fact not be the most suitable approach. A neutral temperature, varying in the low 70s, maintains the composure and utmost focus from a classroom, surprisingly more than sweating or shivering throughout the entirety of a lesson will.