Bad Vision, Bad Grades? The Answer Might Be Yes

It can be safely said that school children generally do not like taking tests. Aside from those performance-related anxiety, students with vision problems might also have something to worry about – at least with regards to standardized tests.

Vision, Speed and Accuracy

A 2018 report, published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, sought to determine the effect of vision on standardized testing. In keeping with this goal, the authors enlisted the help of a small group of 85 children. Lazy eye had been diagnosed in 47 children of these participants, while 18 had previously received treatment to correct crossed eyes( a condition medically known as strabismus). The remaining twenty subjects had completely unimpaired vision.

Each child was required to copy a slate of standardized test answers to multi-choice answer form. The students copied a total of 40 such answers, and were instructed to do so as fast as possible without reading the accompanying text. Upon reviewing the performance of their subjects, the authors found that both lazy eye and strabismus had a negative and notable impact on test performance. Compared to the children with pristine vision, the 65 students with these condition completed needed 28% more time to finish their testing.

The Next Step

The online journal JAMA Ophthalmology published this study in June 2018. The study was accompanied by a commentary from Tina Gao, a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Goa noted that “further research is needed to identify the underlying factors leading to potential visuomotor deficits, and this knowledge can then be used to identify the children who perform significantly worse than the normal range.”

It bears noting that Gao argues that eye health alone may not explain the discrepancy in the children’s scores. “A blanket policy based on hellip; vision history alone, without considering the current performance of the individual child, would not produce equitable outcomes,” she stated.

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