Wisconsin 4th graders exposed to lead got lower grades

 

Blue: Science scores of children unexposed to lead. Gray: Scores of children exposed. Photo: Mike Amato.

Blue: Science scores of children unexposed to lead. Gray: Scores of children exposed. Photo: Mike Amato.

The more Milwaukee public school fourth graders were exposed to lead, the lower their grades, according to a University of Wisconsin study.

Comparing 3,757 students, those who tested higher for lead exposure scored worse on the state’s Knowledge and Concepts Exam, which measures math, reading and other skills, according to the study. Exposure among African American and Hispanic children were roughly double those of white children.

Differences in scores ranged from 5.2 in social studies to 9.8 in reading, said Mike Amato, a doctoral candidate in psychology and environmental studies. The differences made up a large chunk of the distinction between “basic” and “proficient” competence in a given subject.

The most common source of exposure is contaminated dust from paint in older homes, Amato reported. “Even low amounts of lead exposure during early development have direct, measurable, negative consequences for children’s school performance later in life.”

The study was originally published October 2012.

 

One thought on “Wisconsin 4th graders exposed to lead got lower grades

  1. As described in the article, the impact of lead can’t be said to have any causal relationship to low test scores. The same kids who are more likely to be exposed to lead are also more likely to have many other factors in their lives that are known to influence test scores for the worse. Did the study control for income and other factors?

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