Pearle Vision Foundation Grant Helps 125 At-Risk Students

Educational ReadSources, Inc. wishes to thank the Pearle Vision Foundation for the $10,000 grant designed to provide eye examinations and glasses for at-risk high school students. Through this grant, we were able to provide eye examinations and glasses for 125 high school students at Catalina High Magnet School in Tucson, AZ, Compadre High School, in Tempe, AZ, and Harding High School, in Marion, OH.

It is estimated that 1 out of 4 school-age children have undiagnosed vision problems significant enough to affect their performance in school and in life. Research shows that in at-risk populations, such as children living in poverty, this percentage is likely to be much higher. This is significant because approximately 85% of all learning occurs through the visual system.

There is no guarantee that once a student’s uncorrected vision problem is corrected, his/her grades will immediately improve. However, because of the high correlation between uncorrected vision problems and learning difficulties, it can certainly be argued that if a student has a vision problem that interferes with his/her ability to read or to learn, this will surely hinder the student’s performance. Removing this roadblock will, at least, give the student a fighting chance at academic success.

We thank the Pearle Vision Foundation for helping us to give these young people a better chance for success in school and for achieving to their highest potentials.

  • Vision Problems of Children in Poverty. Their Effect on Learning and Correlation with Delinquent Behaviours.
  • 85% of all learning occurs through the visual system.
  • 25% of all children have a vision problem significant enough to affect learning.
  • 70% of juvenile delinquents have uncorrected vision problems.
  • 74% of illiterate adults fail the vision screening.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education hosted a conference in April, 2001, entitled, “Visual Problems of Children in Poverty and Their Interference with Learning.” One of the conclusions was that 53% of children of families living in poverty have uncorrected vision problems that interfere with reading, writing, classroom learning, and even sports.

Vision disorders are the fourth most common disability in the United States.

In spite of the high prevalence of vision disorders in the population, only 31% of children between ages 6 and 16 years have had a comprehensive eye examination within the past year, while below the age of 6, only 14% have had an eye examination. Possible explanations why children are not getting eye care include:

1. Uninsured parents’ or caregivers’ inability to pay.

2. Parents’ or caregivers’ lack of knowledge.

3. Reliance on paediatricians or primary care physicians.

4. False sense of security resulting from school screenings.

Early professional eye care is needed to prevent unnecessary loss of vision as well as to improve educational readiness and performance.

The relationship between vision problems and learning difficulties and the cost of undetected vision problems to society are enormous. Vision problems interfere with children’s abilities to perform to their potential and are the most frequently overlooked roadblock to learning by teachers, parents, and caregivers.

One concern is that the majority of school vision screenings, by well-intentioned nurses, primarily screen for amblyopia, myopia, and high degrees of astigmatism and hyperopia. Most screenings are for visual acuity alone, which generally detects only about 30% of children who would fail a professional eye examination. 6

Visual acuity screening often fails to detect those conditions that would be expected to affect learning, such as accommodation and convergence, the ability to focus the eyes and point them in the right direction. Problems with these visual skills have a detrimental impact on reading and computer use. Parents or caregivers of children who pass a vision screening may incorrectly assume that their children do not require further professional care.

Vision Problems and Juvenile Delinquency

Several studies have linked uncorrected vision problems with juvenile delinquency. One rather alarming statistic is that in the population of all school age students, 25% suffer from undiagnosed vision problems: however, it is estimated that 70% of juvenile offenders have undiagnosed vision problems.

This high incidence of uncorrected vision problems among children in juvenile detention:

a. Results in skill deficiencies.
b. Causes difficulty in learning, and consequently, poor academic performance.
c. Leads to feelings of failure, low self-esteem, and disinterest in school.
d. Contributes to unacceptable behaviours and discipline problems.
e. Frustrates the student, who may eventually drop out of school.

Uncorrected vision problems frequently result in poor literacy skills, and may contribute to the student’s becoming involved with the criminal justice system because of the strong correlation between illiteracy and criminal inclination. According to the National Institute for Literacy’s 1998 report entitled The State of Literacy in America, 70% of those incarcerated in this country are functionally illiterate.

In December, 2001, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, based in Washington, D.C., released the finding of its report: “Abandoned in the Back Row: New Lessons in Education and Delinquency Prevention.” Coalition Director, David Doi, reported, ” The biggest finding is that school failure is one of the earliest and best predictors for future delinquent and criminal behaviour.”

Hispanic Population Patterns

The Hispanic population is the fastest growing segment of our population. According to the Hispanic Education Study by the RAND Corporation of California, two out of three of Hispanic students come from families where neither parent has a high school diploma, and one out of two Hispanic children lives in a family in the lowest income percentile.8

It is imperative that educators not ignore the research indicating the high incidence of undetected vision problems among students living in poverty. Schools need to provide comprehensive vision screenings that include vision skills that can affect reading and learning, and these should be repeated every two years.

Transforming High School Classrooms into Smaller Learning Communities and Improving Student Achievement

As educators explore strategies for improving student achievement, it is clear that our greatest challenge today is high school reform. Steeped in tradition for too long, high schools have become outdated, and ineffective. Problems such as poor attendance, discipline problems, dropout rate, failure rate, vandalism, classroom disruption, violence, drug/alcohol abuse, teacher burnout, and low teacher morale, which confront high schools today, are much more prevalent in high-poverty, urban neighbourhoods than in more affluent ones.

In response to the evidence of academic and social benefits of small schools, government and private foundations are providing millions of dollars for large high schools to create “small learning communities” within the existing school buildings or campuses. Smallness, however, is not enough to improve student achievement.

It is critical that each classroom also be transformed into a “smaller learning community” which personalizes learning, is student-centered, success-oriented, and utilizes differentiated teaching and best practices for improving student achievement.

This workshop will show educators, step by step, how to transform their traditional high school classroom into smaller learning communities which are organized as professional workplace learning environments.

Presenters will include:

  • Educators who have transformed their classrooms into smaller learning communities (SLC’s).
  • Business executives involved in partnerships with similar programs.
  • Adult professionals who mentor at-risk students from SLC classrooms.
  • Graduates of programs which are SLC’s.
  • A featured speaker will donate wall to wall carpeting to help create a professional workplace learning environment for any educator who attends this training, and then transforms his/her classroom based on the model from this training

At the Workshop, you will Learn to:

  • Create a student-centered, success-oriented learning environment.
  • Differentiate teaching and learning to reach our very diverse student population.
  • Motivate and meet the needs of low achieving students.
  • Apply best practices for improving student achievement.
  • Employ motivational strategies for at-risk students.
  • Utilize methods and strategies for reaching English language learners (ELL’s).
  • Incorporate performance-based assessment.
  • Bridge the gap for minorities and non-minorities.
  • Remove roadblocks to learning for students in poverty.
  • Build amazing school, business, community partnerships to maximize your resources


  1. Improved student achievement

2. Increased number of students going to college after graduation

3. Elimination of almost all discipline problems

4. Reduced negative effects of poverty on achievement

5. Increased student buy-in and ownership of their own progress

6. Increased student connectivity and sense of belonging in the class

7. Greater levels of parent and community involvement in the class

8. More positive teacher attitudes and satisfaction

9. Greater safety and order

10. Fewer dropouts and unexcused absences

For Registration fee of $800, Participants will Receive:

A copy of the book, Developing Literacy and Workplace Skills; Teaching for 21st Century Employment – Second Edition – (National Educational Service, 2002) (includes 6-semester curriculum outline)

A organizer/planner specially designed for the Teacher of the 21st Century Professional Workplace Classroom (a SLC)

A copy of Reclaiming At-Risk Youth for the 21st Century Workplace – Case Study for ASCD

Training Manual

Various Handouts

Lunch each of the 3 days of the training

Coffee, tea and pastries during morning sessions

Refreshments during afternoon sessions

One year’s subscription to the Educational ReadSources Newsletter

One semester of free teacher support online and on telephone from the date of implementation

Wall to wall carpeting (color of your choice) for your workplace classroom if you implement this program and meet the requirements for this offer