Better results in the classroom

CBS 6 (Albany, NY) news clip on Lee Public Schools' implementation of FrontRow sound systems

Sound technology improves results by improving communication

Who cares about
classroom sound systems?

Well, at least 4,000 US school superintendents do, along with curriculum directors, tech directors, teachers, and the millions of students they serve. And the very simple reason is that improving communication improves learning much more dramatically than you’d think.

Take a look at the recent news clip above to see what we mean.

In this clip, school staff emphasize improvement in test scores, particularly in literacy. That’s the reason schools get excited about FrontRow sound systems — because they work. If you're concerned about student achievement, attentiveness, teacher voice health, and more you'll want to have a look at our detailed sections on these topics in the box at the bottom of this page.

Children aren't short adults — and can't listen like we do

In the same listening situation, children are much worse than adults at understanding even simple sentences

In the same listening situation, children are much worse than adults at understanding even simple sentences

The key to understanding why FrontRow sound systems — also known as 'soundfield' systems — work rests in recognizing that kids are not smaller versions of their parents and teachers. Until children are about 13 years old, the brain structures needed to help them effectively listen in less-than-ideal conditions aren't fully developed — with some aspects not maturing until the end of high school. Because adults are so much better at listening accurately in noise and over a distance, the impact of the acoustic environment in K-12 classrooms is almost always underestimated by teachers, administrators, and parents.

But there's more. Unlike adults, young students have immature language skills and lack the vocabulary needed to expertly fill in the blanks when they miss a new word or word ending. Children are surprisingly poor at using context to reconstruct what their ears have missed — a task that adults perform easily and unconsciously.

Kids want to learn — is your classroom getting in the way?

Now place this child — with his underdeveloped listening capacity, vocabulary, and world experience — in a typical K-12 classroom. Many adults assume that's the ideal place for learning. In auditory terms, nothing could be further from the truth.

Consider seating arrangements. It's no coincidence that the students who are most inattentive and prone to behavior problems are often found in the back row. To understand 100% of speech sounds, children need to hear the teacher’s voice spoken 15 decibels louder than the background noise. But in a typical K-12 classroom, the teacher’s voice is barely 5 decibels louder than surrounding noise — so only those children closest to the teacher can get the most information with the least amount of effort. Research over the last decade has shown that kids farthest from the teacher can miss up to 40% of what’s being said. When it's that hard to keep up, it's no wonder they stop paying attention, cause disruption, and perform more poorly.

At least 45% of the class day requires listening. In other words, teachers use kids’ ears as a pathway to their brains, especially in the lower grades where children are gaining basic skills. Even with good behavioral control of classrooms to minimize student-generated noise, a teacher can do little or nothing to reduce seating distance and background noise.

The limitations of childrens' brains and coping skills, plus the obstacles of noise and distance from the teacher, combine to erode speech perception, attention, behavior, and overall classroom performance.

FrontRow's simple yet powerful solution

A FrontRow sound system lets students throughout the classroom hear without undue effort – leaving them mentally more ready and able to learn. Numerous studies have reported tremendous benefits from FrontRow implementations, including greater student achievement, easier classroom management, and improved teacher energy.