In the first U.S. school-based study to link reading achievement with the provision of free eyeglasses, Robert Slavin, director of our Center for Research and Reform in Education, and colleagues at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute examined the effects on reading performance of providing free eyeglasses to disadvantaged students.
A total of 317 second and third graders in 12 disadvantaged Baltimore City schools had their vision tested in the fall and winter of 2014-2015. They also completed reading pre- and post-tests from the Woodcock Language Proficiency Battery at those times. Sixty-nine percent (n=182) of the students' vision tests showed they needed glasses. Students who needed glasses were given two pairs, one for home and one for school. Lost or broken glasses were replaced, and school staff were enlisted to help children remember to wear their glasses. Results showed that the reading scores for the children provided with glasses improved more than those for students who did not need glasses (ES=+0.16).
The study points to a new strategy for improving reading performance in high-poverty schools.
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