Arizona schools will soon begin giving kids free vision screenings, thanks to a new law.
The legislation, introduced by state Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, requires schools to give vision screenings to:
- Students just entering school.
- Students who receive or are being considered to receive special education services.
- Students whose teachers have requested a screening.
- Students not reading at grade level by third grade.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed the vision screening law, Senate Bill 1456, on June 7. It goes into effect in late August.
“When a child can’t see properly, they will of course struggle in school,” Allen said. “And young children don’t necessarily know they have vision issues. They may think what they’re seeing is normal vision.”
Other states, like Illinois and Texas, already require vision screenings for younger children, according to the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health.
Advocates say the ability to see clearly is critical in a child’s education: 80% of a child’s learning is done visually, according to Eyes on Learning, a nonprofit that advocates for early childhood vision screenings in Arizona.
It’s unclear exactly how this new law will be implemented in schools. Originally, the bill came with $100,000 to help facilitate the new screenings, but a floor amendment by Republican Rep. Nancy Barto stripped the requirement of that funding.
The law requires that a trained school official or volunteer administer the tests. District and charter schools must notify parents about their child’s test results if they fail, and parents can opt their child out being tested.
Reach the reporter at Lily.Altavena@ArizonaRepublic.com or follow her on Twitter @LilyAlta.