Study connects amount of lead in child's blood to testing performance

Study connects amount of lead in child's blood to testing performance
Study connects amount of lead in child's blood to testing performance
Brown University and Princeton University researchers recently coauthored a study on how levels of lead in the preschoolers’ blood relate to their testing scores in reading when they reach the third grade.
 
“(Rhode Island) had a particularly aggressive program of testing for lead, and 80 percent of all three-year-old children in the state have at least one blood lead level measurement,” researchers said in the study.

They were able to “match information on preschool blood lead levels from the R.I. Department of Health with the child’s test scores from the R.I. Department of Education in order to examine the effects of preschool blood lead levels on third grade test scores.”
 
Published as a working paper with the National Bureau of Economics Research, the study’s authors found that for ever unit increase in a child’s blood lead level, there was a corresponding one point decrease in their future reading scores and a 3.1 percent increase in the likelihood that they would be substantially below proficient in reading. While the study’s results also suggested a negative affect on math scores, the estimates were less precise.
 
“This study underscores the importance of looking at factors outside the educational setting to help explain persistent gaps in test scores,” Anna Aizer, Brown University professor of economics and coauthor of the study, said.

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