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Project Experience: Effects of Aircraft Noise on Children’s Learning

The Challenge

Research on the effects of aircraft noise on children’s learning suggests that aircraft noise can interfere with reading, motivation, language and speech acquisition, and memory. The strongest findings to date are in the area of reading, where more than 20 studies have shown that children in noise impact zones are negatively affected by aircraft.

The Strategy

Under contract to FICAN, HMMH undertook a pilot study in 35 public schools near three airports in the U.S. We evaluated the following:

  • Is abrupt aircraft noise reduction within classrooms related to mandatory, standardized test-score improvement, after controlling for demographics?
  • Does this relationship vary by age group, by student group, and/or by test type?

The Solution

After controlling for demographics, the study found:

  • A substantial association between noise reduction and decreased failure rates for high-school students
  • Significant association between noise reduction and increased average test scores for student/test subgroups