Preliminary Report of the Colorado School Vision Screening Interdisciplinary Task Force

Article excerpt

An interdisciplinary task force was assembled and sponsored by the Adolph Coors Foundation to review the school vision screening program on Colorado. The project impetus came primarily from Foundation President William K. Coors, who believes good vision is critical to a student's ability to learn and to reach his or her potential. Early identification and remediation of vision problems is a key element to learning. In light of this interest and to make a favorable impact in the area of vision and learning, the Foundation's staff and the Colorado Commissioner of Education investigated several alternatives. Becoming aware of the differences of opinion the exist among the professionals involved, a task force to review Colorado's school vision screening programs was convened. The interdisciplinary task force included representatives from the Colorado Dept. of Health, Colorado Dept. of Education, school nurses, ophthalmologists, optometrists, and a foundation staff member. A consulting group was hired to facilitate the meeting.

The proceedings of this meeting and the school vision screening guidelines that evolved are presented. Subsequent papers will report the efficacy of the screening battery once implemented.

BACKGROUND

School vision screening is riddled with a lack of agreement among professionals involved and no rules and regulations to enforce state laws that mandate vision screening. Prior to the task force group meeting in August 1990, facilitators interviewed participants individually to better understand the diverse opinions. Participants were invited to contribute pertinent articles to a background information packet that was distributed prior to the meeting. An agenda listing specific objectives also was drafted. The facilitators' tasks were were to keep the group task-oriented, on schedule, and able to reach agreement on each objective. William Coors addressed the group, reiterating the charge and expressing his personal concerns about school vision screening and the role of vision in learning.

COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT

OF THE PROBLEM

The first objective was to review current school vision screening guidelines. Although some task force members maintained initially that no problem existed, after considerable discussion, consensus was obtained that a problem and a core problem analysis was performed to identify the core problem.

The current Colorado state statute (HB 1408) reads:

"School children--sight and hearing tests. The sight and hearing of all children in the kindergarten, first, second, third, fifth, seventh and ninth grades, or children in comparable age groups referred for testing, shall be tested during the school year by the teacher, principal, or other qualified person authorized by the school district. Each school in the district shall make a record of all sight and hearing tests given during the school year and record the individual results of each test on each child's records. The parents or guardian shall be informed when a deficiency is found. The provision of this section shall not apply to any child whose parent or guardian objects on religious or personal grounds."

The Colorado School Health Guidelines [1] suggest screenings consist of observations and distance Snellen visual acuity for all children screening, and cover test for those in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. School districts may do additional screenings, especially for students being assessed for special education or students referred by a teacher. School nurses usually perform the screenings or train personnel.

The task identified three specific problems with present vision screening programs:

1) Inadequate Vision Screening, including inconsistency among school districts which, in Colorado, have local autonomy, lack of personnel, equipment, and funds for screenings, inadequate training of personnel, and under referrals or over referrals. …