Visual factors that significantly impact academic performance

Optometry. 2003 Jan;74(1):35-49.


Background: Both race and socio-economic status are correlated to performance in the classroom. These two factors are inter-related, since minorities, proportion-wise, are more highly represented in the lower socio-economic strata. Inefficient visual skills have been shown to be more prevalent among minority groups and in low socio-economic groups. These inefficient visual skills impact the students' learning. This study was undertaken to discover the visual skills that were significantly correlated with academic performance problems.

Method: A total of 2,659 examinations were performed on 540 children over the course of six examination periods, which were administered over three consecutive school years. Socio-economic, racial, and standardized academic performance data (Iowa Test of Basic Skills--ITBS) were furnished by the families and the school system. The visual and demographic data from the examinations were then compared to performance on the 21 subtests of the ITBS.

Results: Some visual factors were found to be a much better predictor of scores on the ITBS than either race or socio-economic status. Even though the significance of these two demographic variables was small, race and socio-economic variables were each significant in about a third of the 21 ITBS scores.

Conclusion: Visual factors are significantly better predictors of academic success as measured by the ITBS than is race or socio-economics. Visual motor activities are better predictors of ITBS scores than are binocularity or accommodation. These latter skills were significant predictors also, but to a lesser degree.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accommodation, Ocular
  • Child
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Vision Disorders / complications*
  • Vision, Binocular