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What are learning conditions? (Elevate)

Learning conditions refers to the factors or circumstances that exist in students’ classrooms that support or hinder their ability to learn. How students experience their classrooms’ learning conditions significantly impacts student achievement.

A. What learning conditions are measured in Elevate? 

Elevate helps educators understand the extent to which students experience critical learning conditions:

  • Affirming Identities

  • Classroom Community

  • Feedback for Growth

  • Meaningful Work

  • Student Voice

  • Teacher Caring

As well as the following supplementary conditions:

  • Learning Goals

  • Supportive Teaching

  • Well-Organized Class

For a description of each learning condition as well as specific measures, visit:

For literature about each learning condition, visit

B. How do learning conditions impact student achievement?

Countless studies show that learning conditions influence students’ motivation and also their ability to engage and learn. When supportive learning conditions are present, students learn more and learn more equitably. 

For example, in a 2019 study, students who experienced positive learning conditions in a class were 30% more likely to earn an A or B in that class, and those benefits were pronounced for students of color. For example, Black males who experienced positive learning conditions were almost 2x more likely to earn an A or B than those who did not.

Better learning conditions also led to better social and emotional learning outcomes. When learning conditions improved, students were 86% more likely to experience a higher sense of belonging, 24% more likely to develop a growth mindset, and 2x more likely to report they “tried their very best” in class.

In a more recent 2022 studystudents were more than 2x as likely to earn a B or better in math when they rated learning conditions most positively rather than most negatively, and the relationship between learning and math grades held even when controlling statistically for student race, gender, age, grade level, Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) status, and previous grades in the same math class.

Teachers of grades 6-12 can use Elevate to measure these learning conditions.

C. Research about learning conditions

The papers below provide a more extensive conceptual review of relevant research:

Elevate Learning Conditions & References provides literature about each of the learning conditions that can be measured with Elevate.

D. Why measure learning conditions in students’ classes?

“We think we're doing all of these things as an educator... But what's being received and what's being noticed by students is really different.” 

-Rachelle Stone, Restorative Justice Educator in Madison Metro Public School District and Elevate User

Often, there’s a big gap between educators’ intentions and students’ experiences. Without hearing from students themselves, educators may not recognize that their students are having negative experiences or inequitable experiences, or simply misunderstanding the intention behind their teacher’s actions. For example, when Shannon Feineis collected her students’ feedback, she quickly realized that many of her students were misunderstanding the intent behind her classroom organizational structures. Once she saw the disconnect, she asked her students for their suggestions and made updates to her classroom structures that better met the needs of her students.

Elevate helps educators collect students’ feedback and partner with their students to create a more engaging and equitable learning environment. 

E. How does PERTS determine which learning conditions to measure?
PERTS, along with our research partners, considers multiple factors when deciding which conditions to measure: 
  • Is there scientific evidence that the learning condition affects learning? The condition must have a well-established relationship to student success.

  • Can educators directly influence the learning condition? Many conditions affect whether students can learn effectively. Some of those conditions, like hunger and sleep deprivation, can be difficult for educators to directly influence. Other learning conditions can be influenced in powerful ways by educators’ decisions.

F. How does Elevate measure learning conditions? 

Teachers of grades 6-12 can use Elevate to measure these learning conditions.

When teachers implement Elevate, students are asked to complete a survey with carefully designed questions that have been developed and tested by leading researchers. The questions help educators identify how students’ experiences in the classroom could be supporting or getting in the way of learning. This enables educators to take targeted actions to influence these experiences and, thereby, improve learning conditions over time. We recommend that teachers survey their students 4 times per year so that they can monitor how conditions are changing over time and make real-time adjustments based on student feedback.

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