A free eyeglasses program in the Youngstown City Schools has paid off in better attendance and test results, along with a lower discipline rate.
The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley began working with several different vision organizations through its Success After 6 program.
“Basic medical care can be a burden on our families, and our job as the United Way is to break down those barriers to a student’s success in the classroom,” said local president Bob Hannon.
Last fall, about 250 students from kindergarten through seventh grade were given two pairs of glasses — one for home and another for school.
“We saw a true need in Youngstown when we were approached in February 2016 with 95 children that failed eye screenings but had never received an eye exam,” said Dr. S.A. Erzurum, co-founder and president of Sight for All United. “That pilot program demonstrated the significant vision difficulties the students were struggling with and that glasses could help eliminate a simple but significant problem in their academic success.”
Students getting the glasses had a 93 percent attendance rate compared with the average of 90 percent. Their discipline rate was also 41 percent lower than average.
Standardized test scores for students with the glasses were 17 percent higher in English and 6 percent higher in math.
“What some may see as a simple remedy — providing eyeglasses — is already having a major impact on our students,” said Stacia Erdos, vice president of strategic planning at United Way.
The effort was a collaboration between the district, the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, the Essilor Vision Foundation, the Sight for All United Foundation, Classic Optical, Ageless Eyecare, the Youngstown City Department of Health, Youngstown Lions Club, DentaQuest, Modern Optical International and Mercy Health Foundation.