Sometimes the best method to support student learning falls outside of the classroom, or beyond a teacher’s actions. A recent study by Neitzel and colleagues highlighted the effect of the Vision for Baltimore (V4B) program on student academic achievement from 2016-2019. V4B is a school-based vision program in which students in grades preK-8 were provided with free vision screening, with eye examinations and eyeglasses (as needed) for those who failed the screenings. These activities were facilitated by a Vision to Learn mobile eye clinic with free replacements available to students who lost or broke their original pair.
Neitzel and colleagues used a cluster randomized clinical trial approach including 127 schools enrolled and randomized into the study. Schools were randomized into 1 of 3 study cohorts using block randomization, with each cohort receiving the V4B intervention during different program years. Cohort 1 (intervention) was compared with cohorts 2 and 3 (control) at the end of program year 1 and cohort 2 (intervention) was compared with cohort 3 (control) at the end of program year 2. In the study of 2,304 students in grades 3-7, the researchers found that:
- An overall 1-year positive impact (ES = +0.09) in literacy (using the i-Ready reading test)
- Positive impact among female students (ES = +0.15)
- Positive impacts for students in special education (ES = +0.25)
- As well as students who performed in the lowest quartile at baseline (ES = +0.28)
- Positive but not significant impact of intervention over 2 years (ES = +0.08)
While the study did not show a sustained impact over two years, the project does illustrate the academic benefits of providing eyeglasses to students who would otherwise struggle to access optometry care and highlights the need to understand what types of school supports are needed to maintain those impacts after the first year.
Source: Neitzel, A. J., Wolf, B., Guo, X., Shakarchi, A. F., Madden, N. A., Repka, M. X., Friedman, D. S., & Collins, M. E. (2021). Effect of a randomized interventional school-based vision program on academic performance of students in grades 3 to 7: A cluster randomized clinical trial. JAMA Ophthalmology, 139(10), 1104–1114. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2021.3544