Eyeglasses Are Boosting Test Scores in Baltimore

The gap in reading proficiency between poor and wealthy students might have an easier fix than we thought. Researchers at John Hopkins University knew poorer children were less likely to have access to eyeglasses than wealthier children, so they screened several hundred second and third graders and gave eyeglasses to students who needed them. The results? Reading proficiency notably improved over the course of a year compared to the students who didn’t need eyeglasses.

After the study, the Baltimore Health department teamed up with groups including the city’s public school system and eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker to tackle the proficiency gap at a larger scale. The program, called Vision for Baltimore, plans to screen 60,000 students and give out 8,000 pairs of eyeglasses over the course of three years — all for free.

This could change things for students in a big way. Studies indicate that children with poor school performance are sometimes misdiagnosed with behavioral problems or special education needs, when in reality some of these children simply have poor eyesight and do not have access to health care. It’s remarkable that such a significant problem could be solved with a simple pair of eyeglasses.

Branden Harvey