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Hotter Days Widen Racial Gap in U.S. Schools, Data Shows

Higher temperatures are linked to worse test scores, but only for Black and Hispanic children. The likely culprit: a lack of air-conditioning.

The link between heat and education has become an important part of that story.

In an earlier paper, published in May, Dr. Park and his co-authors, including Joshua Goodman of Boston University, looked at the effects of heat on United States high school students. They examined 10 million students who took the PSATs twice, and found that students did worse on the test that followed a year of higher temperatures.

They calculated that those effects were greater for minority students, and estimated that heat exposure explained “roughly 5 percent of the racial achievement gap.”

But high school students who take the PSATs aren’t representative of the entire American student population. So in their new paper, Dr. Park and Dr. Goodman, along with A. Patrick Behrer of Stanford University, examined more than 270 million state-administered test scores for third to eighth graders between 2009 and 2015.

They found that students who experienced more school days of 80 degrees Fahrenheit,…

Christopher Flavelle

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