Blue Eye Elementary: Vision & Reading Program
Recently, reading has drawn more interest as the topic for many researchers due to the increase accountability of school districts to raise and maintain student reading achievement scores. School leaders are attempting to pinpoint any positive circumstances, settings or techniques that provide them with measurable gains.
One program that offers very positive results is screening the vision of all students. While virtually all schools screen for acuity (20/20) very few look at the child''s vision from a broader perspective. Blue Eye schools found that with a simple 10 minute screening they could determine what student should be referred to a Vision Therapy Optometrist for further evaluation.
As the Title 1 Reading Specialist for Blue Eye Elementary Jan Pike became increasingly aware of students'' reading problems. In spite of professional development workshops for the purpose of training teachers to teach reading the students still were not making the progress hoped for.
Jan met Dr. David Pierce of the Vision Enhancement Clinic in Springfield, Missouri in the spring of 2000 after I had referred one of my students to him for visual problems. In the course of a few months, corresponding back and forth with Dr. Pierce, Blue Eye Elementary became his second pilot school in the state of Missouri for the purpose of doing research and gathering data on the connection of visual disorders, other than 20/20 acuity and reading.
Dr. Pierce came to Blue Eye in the fall and trained all teachers (K-4, Title 1 teachers, and Special Education teachers) in vision disorders.
The following steps are taken to identify students at Blue Eye Elementary grades K-4 for visual disorders that interfere with their reading and learning. Students are screened for visual disorders by the Title 1 Reading Specialist. The screening consists of five tests that were designed by Dr. Pierce to test these skill:
- Visual Sequential Memory - the ability to remember forms or character in order. This skill is particularly important in spelling, letter omissions, or transpositions within words, remembering patterns or chunks in reading.
- Visual Closure - the ability to visualize a complete whole when given incomplete information. This skill helps children read and comprehend quickly.
- Visual Span - the amount of information that can be absorbed in one visual fixation in a given amount of time. The ability to interpret, understand, and retain varying amounts of information. Reading comprehension and speed require well-developed visual span skills.
- Tracking - children with tracking problems lose their place when reading, skip or transpose word and have difficulty comprehending.
- Copy Forms - if a child can''t copy simple geometric forms, it is unreasonable to assume that he will be able to perceive wiggly lines which make up a letter, which make up words, which make up sentences. This test also shows visual organizational skills.
After students are identified with visual disorders they are referred to Dr. Pierce or his associate. As soon as they evaluate a student they send us a copy of the diagnosis with his parent''s permission and the report shows the skills that need to be improved. The report also states if the student needs glasses or not and if they need in-office vision therapy from an optometrist for signigant eye-teaming, focusing or tracking problems.
The Title 1 Teachers, special education teachers, classroom teachers, and volunteers who have been trained to do the procedures implement the prescribed visual skills activities in the classroom. These activities can be done in small groups, whole class situations or even individually if needed. These activities are done at least four times a week for thirty minutes per session.
Vision Skills sessions include procedures des
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