Mayor Levar M. Stoney today joined Richmond Public Schools (RPS) Superintendent Jason Kamras at E.S.H Greene Elementary School to announce the results of the vision screenings from the 2017/2018 school year conducted at every RPS location across the city. Through a partnership with nonprofits Conexus and Vision To Learn, 12,467 students were screened over the course of the school year, and 4,040 were referred for eye exams. The effort began in October of last year at Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary School.
“The Richmond community faces many challenges in helping our children be successful, and seeing the chalkboard should not be one of them,” said Mayor Stoney. “After receiving glasses, we have seen students’ math and reading grades increase, as well as improved classroom behavior and focus on class discussion and assignments. I thank Conexus and Vision To Learn for giving our students the opportunity for a better educational experience and making Richmond a leader in Comprehensive Vision Programming in Virginia.”
“We are appreciative of this wonderful partnership with Conexus and Vision To Learn,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras. “Identifying and resolving the vision challenges that our students are experiencing helps us to ultimately increase their chances for academic success. The eyeglasses that have been received will have long-lasting impacts on the future of our students.”
Students with untreated vision problems often struggle at school and are less likely to achieve reading proficiency by third grade, putting them at greater risk of dropping out. Conexus has provided vision screenings to 20,985 RPS students since 2015, referring 6,689 (32%). The national average is 25%.
Vision To Learn offered to provide each child who did not pass the initial screening with an eye exam, and, if needed, provided eyeglasses free of charge. This school year, 1,614 eye exams were given to students who returned a consent form, and 1,243 received glasses.
“Conexus has been able to determine vision problems down to each individual classroom level. There are 57 classrooms in Richmond Public Schools where more than half of the students were determined to have vision problems significant enough to impact their ability to learn,” said Conexus President and CEO Tim Gresham. “Conexus is grateful that Mayor Stoney has taken a lead and Superintendent Kamras is lending his support to help us identify Richmond Public Schools students with poor vision and address this significant public health and public education issue in Richmond.”
“Vision To Learn is pleased to provide free eye exams and glasses to students in Richmond referred through Conexus vision screenings,” said Vision To Learn President Ann Hollister. “In the past school year, Vision To Learn provided over 1,500 kids in Richmond Public Schools with eye exams and over 1,200 with glasses, helping them succeed in school and in life.”
Today’s announcement was held at E.S.H Greene Elementary School because school-wide results best showed the impact of the program; 599 students screened, 240 referred (40%) with 79 receiving glasses.
In the 2018/2019 school year, Conexus will provide screenings for Kindergarten and 2nd, 7th, 9th and 10th grades (this school year students in Kindergarten – 5th, 7th and 10th grades received the screenings). Vision To Learn will continue with their mobile services, returning to the elementary schools which weren’t completed this year and focusing on the middle and high schools, which did not receive services in year one.
To view the full results compiled by Conexus, click here.
The data capabilities of the Conexus VisioCheck program have shown vision screening referral rates in Richmond Public Schools (32%) to be considerably higher than the national average (25%). Further review of the data and consultation with the school division and DMAS revealed that RPS students were, in general, not receiving eye exams. Even though the VisioCheck program has seen a 700% increase in parental follow up in other localities, the vast majority of screening referrals through RPS were remaining unanswered. Recognizing access to care and other barriers as factors, Conexus and RPS began exploring ways to bring onsite eye exams and glasses to students at school. At the same time, Vision To Learn, a California-based non-profit that provides an onsite mobile clinic in multiple states throughout the country, made their services available to RPS. Through a three-agency MOU, RPS, Conexus, and Vision To Learn are providing vision services to every RPS student over the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school year in an agreement through which Conexus provides the technology-based vision screenings and consent forms to the RPS students in need of the mobile services provided by Vision To Learn.
The initiative is supported with funding by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, Robins Foundation and Richmond Community Foundation.
For more information on Conexus, please contact Melissa Perry at Melissa@conexusvision.org.