Daylighting and student performance

As an example of how a seemingly small architectural consideration can have a profound impact on learning, consider the relationship between daylighting in classrooms and student performance. An extensive study conducted in 1999 by the Heschong Mahone Group Inc., which specializes in research related to how building systems perform, suggests that there is. This groundbreaking study analyzed over 21,000 student records and 2000 2nd-5th grade classrooms from three districts: Capistrano, California, Seattle, Washington, and Fort Collins, Colorado. Daylighting from both skylights and windows was considered. The results significantly support the notion that daylighting improves student performance.

In the Capistrano school district:

  • Students with the most daylighting in their classrooms progressed 20 percent faster on math tests and 26 percent on reading tests in one year than students with the least
  • Students with the largest window areas progressed 15 percent faster in math and 23 percent faster in reading than those with the least
  • Students with a well-designed skylight in their classroom improved 19-20 percent faster than those without a skylight
  • Students in classrooms with windows that could be opened progressed 7-8 percent faster than those students in classrooms with fixed windows

In Seattle and Fort Collins school districts:

  • Students in classrooms with the most daylighting had 7-18 percent higher test score than those with the least daylighting

Details on this report and follow-up studies conducted by Heschong Mahone are available at: