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

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.

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DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
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National Science Foundation
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