Study: Free glasses improved Baltimore students' test scores

A program launched in a number of Baltimore schools last year has helped students get better grades and higher test scores. 

It’s not focused on offering tutoring or preparation; rather, it gives children free eye exams and, if needed, their pick of stylish eyeglasses provided by Warby Parker. 

A collaboration among a number of groups, including the Baltimore City Health Department and Johns Hopkins University, the Vision for Baltimore initiative was launched in large part to help those whose families may not be able to afford such services. 

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According to Politico, it was also hoped to determine if, “the persistent gap in reading performance between poor students and wealthier ones be closed if they gave the poor students eyeglasses?”

Thus far, it appears that it very well could. 

“They screened several hundred second- and third-graders, gave two pairs of eyeglasses to the ones who needed them…and then they tracked their school performance over the course of the year," Politico notes. "The outcomes were notable even with the small sample size—reading proficiency improved significantly compared with the children who did not need eyeglasses.” 

Initial screenings are performed and a mobile vision center can be used for further diagnosis, and students can also pick their own glasses to be delivered right to the school when ready.

Started in 2016, Vision for Baltimore is slated to function for a total of 3 years and, in that time, aims to screen over 60,000 students attending roughly 150 area schools. 

Though the program does get some public funding, it is largely fueled by grants and donations. 

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