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J Policy Anal Manage. 2018;37(2):265-300. doi: 10.1002/pam.

The Impact of Providing Vision Screening and Free Eyeglasses on Academic Outcomes: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Title I Elementary Schools in Florida.


More than 20 percent of all school-aged children in the United States have vision problems, and low-income and minority children are disproportionately likely to have unmet vision care needs. Vision screening is common in U.S. schools, but it remains an open question whether screening alone is sufficient to improve student outcomes. We implemented a multi-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the impact of vision screening, and of vision screening accompanied by eye exams and eyeglasses, provided by a non-profit organization to Title I elementary schools in three large central Florida school districts. We find that providing additional/enhanced screening alone is generally insufficient to improve student achievement in math and reading. In contrast, providing screening along with free eye exams and free eyeglasses to students with vision problems improved student achievement as measured by standardized test scores. We find, averaging over all students (including those without vision problems), that this more comprehensive intervention increased the probability of passing the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Tests (FCATs) in reading and math by approximately 2.0 percentage points. We also present evidence that indicates that this impact fades out over time, indicating that follow-up actions after the intervention may be necessary to sustain these estimated achievement gains.

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