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The Impact of Providing Eyeglasses on Academic Outcomes of Disadvantaged Students: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Florida Elementary Schools
Last registered on November 05, 2014

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Impact of Providing Eyeglasses on Academic Outcomes of Disadvantaged Students: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Florida Elementary Schools
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000167
Initial registration date
December 10, 2013
Last updated
November 05, 2014 4:35 PM EST
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Minnesota
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
St. Catherine University
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2011-08-01
End date
2014-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This study evaluates a field experiment in which a non-profit organization (FLVQ) offered enhanced vision services to a randomly selected group of Title 1 elementary schools in three large central Florida school districts during the fall of the 2011-2012 school-year. This is the first study in the U.S. to use a randomized trial to estimate the impact of vision services on student outcomes. In order to rigorously test of the efficacy of FLVQ’s services, we conducted a randomized trial targeting 4th and 5th grade students in Title 1 schools where FLVQ had not had a significant presence over the last two years. The randomization was done at the school level in three school districts (i.e. three counties). Schools were assigned to one of two intervention groups or to a control group. The first intervention group received additional/enhanced vision screening. The second intervention group received additional/enhanced vision screening as well as free onsite eye exams by an optometrist and free eyeglasses as needed. The control group received no vision services from FLVQ. Preliminary results find that providing additional/enhanced screening alone is not enough to improve student outcomes. In two of the three school districts studied, the intervention which included free exams by an optometrist and free eyeglasses as needed significantly improved student achievement as measured by the FCAT. When we focus on these two school districts, we find that, averaging over all students – including those who did not receive eyeglasses – FCAT level scores (which range from 1-5) increased on the order of 0.08 for reading and 0.09 for math in schools where FLVQ provided screenings and follow-up vision services. This evidence is robust to different specifications and the effect is stronger for low-income students and for students with poor vision. This is a large effect and suggests that vision services are more cost-effective than many other potential uses of district and/or state funds. These preliminary results are based on data from the 2012 FCAT. When the test was administered, students who received free eyeglasses had had their glasses for only a few months. Future drafts will include data for the 2013 FCAT to track the effect over time.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Glewwe, Paul and Kristine West. 2014. "The Impact of Providing Eyeglasses on Academic Outcomes of Disadvantaged Students: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Florida Elementary Schools." AEA RCT Registry. November 05. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.167-3.0.
Former Citation
Glewwe, Paul and Kristine West. 2014. "The Impact of Providing Eyeglasses on Academic Outcomes of Disadvantaged Students: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Florida Elementary Schools." AEA RCT Registry. November 05. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/167/history/3049.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The first intervention group received additional/enhanced vision screening. The second intervention group received additional/enhanced vision screening as well as free onsite eye exams by an optometrist and free eyeglasses as needed. The control group received no vision services from FLVQ.
Intervention Start Date
2011-08-01
Intervention End Date
2012-03-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Scores on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The randomization was done at the school level in each of three school districts (i.e. three counties), for students in grades 4 and 5. Schools were assigned to one of two intervention groups or to a control group. Only Title 1 schools were included. Schools were ranked by prior test scores, and randomization was done in blocks defined by prior test scores.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Done using random number generator in an Excel spreadsheet.
Randomization Unit
Schools
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
88 schools.
Sample size: planned number of observations
18,000 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control schools: 43
Screen only schools: 23
Full treatment schools: 22
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2011-10-13
IRB Approval Number
1109S04064
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
More than 20% of all school aged children in the United States have vision problems, and low-income and minority children are even more likely to have unmet vision care needs. We use a randomized control trial to evaluate the impact of enhanced vision services provided by a local non-profit organization to Title 1 elementary schools in three large central Florida school districts. That organization provides state-of-the-art screening, comprehensive vision exams and free eyeglasses for low-income children. We find that providing additional/enhanced screening alone is generally insufficient to improve student achievement in math and reading, yet in two of the three counties studied providing free vision exams and eyeglasses significantly improved student achievement in math and reading in grade 5 (but for the most part not in grade 4). The magnitude of the impact ranges from 0.07 to 0.16 standard deviations of the distribution of students’ test scores. The impact on English Language Learner (ELL) students is particularly large, increasing math and readings scores by about 0.15 standard deviations (averaged across grades 4 and 5). Most impacts faded out completely by the second year, but the impact on ELL students’ math scores (0.08 standard deviations in year 2) did not fade out. A simple calculation suggests that providing screening and free eyeglasses has benefits that may be two orders of magnitude higher than the costs.
Citation
Glewwe, Paul, Kristine West and Jongwook Lee. 2014. The Impact of Providing Vision Screening and Free Eyeglasses on Academic Outcomes: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Title 1 Elementary Schools. Department of Applied Economics. University of Minnesota.