(Download PDF 529 Kb)
BEST Initiative Press Release
Overview and Policy Agenda
(Download PDF 176 Kb)
Do School Facilities Affect Academic Outcomes?
In November 2002, the National Clearinghouse for Education Facilities published a review of current school facilities research commissioned by the 21st Century School Fund. This review concluded that spatial configurations, noise, temperature, daylight, and air quality have an affect on students' and teachers' ability to perform in the classroom. However, it pointed out the need for more empirical research and for standardized data so individual schools can make use of the existing body of research on best practices. PDF: 600KB
Linking School Facility Conditions to Teacher Satisfaction and Success
Improving education performance ranks high on the national agenda conspicuously absent has been an examination of how school conditions affect teaching and learning... This study documents how a large sample of teachers in Chicago and Washington, DC rate the working conditions in their schools and how they perceive these conditions affecting their job performance and teaching effectiveness. School facilities have a direct affect on teaching and learning. Poor school conditions make it more difficult for teachers to deliver an adequate education to their students, adversely affect teachers' health, and increase the likelihood that teachers will leave their school and the teaching profession. Our nation's school facilities are a critical part of the educational process. Their condition and upkeep must be addressed in the ongoing discourse about student achievement, teacher effectiveness, and accountability. PDF: 202KB
The Educational Adequacy of New Jersey Public School Facilities: Results From a Survey of Principals
This study assesses the quality of school facilities from the point of view of principals and examines how well principals feel they can manage their school facility. Based on a survey of principals this study finds significant problems in the quality and adequacy of school facilities in New Jersey. The study also finds that principals may lack the resources to manage their school buildings. These problems are more severe in the poorest districts of the state. PDF: 1,833KB
The Effects of School Facility Quality on Teacher Retention in Urban School Districts
The attrition of both new and experienced teachers is a great challenge for schools and school administrators throughout the United States, particularly in large urban districts. Because of the importance of this issue, there is a large empirical literature that investigates why teachers quit and how they might be better induced to stay. Here we build upon this literature by suggesting another important factor: the quality of school facilities. We investigate the importance of facility quality using data from a survey of K-12 teachers in Washington, D.C. We find in our sample that facility quality is an important predictor of the decision of teachers to leave their current position. HTML
A Decade of Growth and Disparity: Public School Construction 1995–2004
Building Educational Success Together (BEST) completed an investigation of school construction spending in the United States between 1995 & 2004. The findings are both encouraging and cause for great concern. A record $304 billion in school construction hard costs was spent by school districts between 1995 and 2004. While there have been extensive improvements to school facilities throughout the United States, the study found that minority children from low-income communities, particularly in central cities, had less than half the school building investment of children from the most affluent communities. To Be Released on October 26th, 2006
The Effects of School Facility Quality on Teacher Retention
in Urban School Districts
The attrition of both new and experienced teachers is a great challenge
for schools and school administrators throughout the United States, particularly
in large urban districts. Because of the importance of this issue, there
is a large empirical literature that investigates why teachers quit and
how they might be better induced to stay. Here we build upon this literature
by suggesting another important factor: the quality of school facilities.
We investigate the importance of facility quality using data from a survey
of K-12 teachers in Washington, D.C. We find in our sample that facility
quality is an important predictor of the decision of teachers to leave
their current position.
This research was supported in part by the Ford Foundation and the 21st
Century School Fund through its BEST (Building Educational Success Together)
Adobe Acrobat PDF document
For Immediate Release
Contact: Marissa Bachman 202-745-3745
July 29, 2002
Building Better Schools from the Community Up
National Collaboration Targets Urban School Districts for Facility Improvements
Washington, DC – On July 31, the 21st Century School Fund will launch
the Building Educational Success Together (BEST) initiative with a $1
million grant from the Ford Foundation. This constituency building, research
and communications collaboration will focus on improving urban public
Across the nation, deteriorating public school buildings are a major
obstacle to achieving academic success and neighborhood vitality. Despite
higher standards and efforts to improve teacher quality, “a poorly designed,
overcrowded, and poorly maintained school limits the effectiveness of
education reforms,” says Barbara Diamond, a KnowledgeWorks Foundation
These same buildings also challenge multi-million dollar efforts to revitalize
urban communities. “Schools that are in disrepair and inaccessible to
the larger community send a stark message to surrounding neighborhoods:
‘Your kids — your community — doesn’t matter,’” states Neighborhood Capital Budget Group
executive director Jacqueline Leavy.
The BEST initiative was launched to make school buildings assets for,
instead of barriers to, educational success and community development
and preservation. Members of this initiative will work to: involve local
communities in facility planning; make schools useable by their surrounding
neighborhoods; ensure honest and effective management of facility construction,
renovation and maintenance; and secure stable and sufficient funding for
new construction and modernization.
This initiative will also work to preserve and modernize historic schools
which are often important civic landmarks and neighborhood anchors. “The
system should make it easier for communities to preserve these institutions
when they can be renovated to meet 21st century educational standards,”
says Constance Beaumont of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Children in poor urban communities have a right to attend excellent
schools that are safe and educationally adequate,” says David Sciarra,
executive director of the Education Law Center.
In its first year, BEST will focus its efforts in eight cities: Washington,
DC; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, OH; and Newark, Paterson,
and Trenton, NJ.
“We have brought together a committed team of leaders from the education,
historic preservation, neighborhood development, philanthropic, legal,
and research communities to build better schools for our children and
our neighborhoods,” says 21st Century School Fund executive director Mary
The BEST initiative is a collaboration of the 21st Century School Fund
(Washington, DC), Education Law Center
(Newark, NJ); KnowledgeWorks Foundation
(Cincinnati, OH); National Clearinghouse
for Educational Facilities
(Washington, DC); National Trust for Historic Preservation
(Washington, DC); Neighborhood Capital Budget Group
(Chicago, IL); and Mark Schneider at the State University of New
York at Stony Brook.
The formal launch of the BEST initiative will take place at the Sumner
School and Archives (1201 17th Street in Washington, DC) at 11:30 AM on
July 31st. Please join us for lunch and a Q&A session following the announcement.
RSVP at 202-745-3745.