School Greenness and Student-Level Academic Performance:Evidence From the Global South

Raquel B. Jimenez, Matthew Bozigar, Patricia Janulewicz, Kevin J. Lane, Lucy R. Hutyra, M. Patricia Fabian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Greenspace in schools might enhance students' academic performance. However, the literature—dominated by ecological studies at the school level in countries from the Northern Hemisphere—presents mixed evidence of a beneficial association. We evaluated the association between school greenness and student-level academic performance in Santiago, Chile, a capital city of the Global South. This cross-sectional study included 281,695 fourth-grade students attending 1,498 public, charter, and private schools in Santiago city between 2014 and 2018. Student-level academic performance was assessed using standardized test scores and indicators of attainment of learning standards in mathematics and reading. School greenness was estimated using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Linear and generalized linear mixed-effects models were fit to evaluate associations, adjusting for individual- and school-level sociodemographic factors. Analyses were stratified by school type. In fully adjusted models, a 0.1 increase in school greenness was associated with higher test scores in mathematics (36.9 points, 95% CI: 2.49; 4.88) and in reading (1.84 points, 95% CI: 0.73; 2.95); as well as with higher odds of attaining learning standards in mathematics (OR: 1.20, 95% CI: 1.12; 1.28) and reading (OR: 1.07, 95% CI: 1.02; 1.13). Stratified analysis showed differences by school type, with associations of greater magnitude and strength for students attending public schools. No significant associations were detected for students in private schools. Higher school greenness was associated with improved individual-level academic outcomes among elementary-aged students in a capital city in South America. Our results highlight the potential of greenness in the school environment to moderate educational and environmental inequalities in urban areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023GH000830
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • academic performance
  • Global South
  • school environment
  • school greenspace
  • urban greenness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Epidemiology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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