Head Start has long focused on helping children from low-income families prepare for success in school. Yet the federal program’s efforts to identify kids with vision problems have had mixed results.
Enter Jessica Flack OD ’18, a Pacific University optometry student who has set out to improve Head Start’s vision-screening protocol. For her thesis as part of Pacific’s Master of Education/Visual Function in Learning program, Flack partnered with Head Start programs in Oregon to use state-of-the-art technology to screen students for vision problems.
What she found was that one in three students with vision problems would have slipped through the cracks if not for the diagnostic tools. Flack hopes her findings will persuade Head Start to rethink its protocol at the national level.
The MED/VFL program is a unique partnership between Pacific University’s College of Optometry and College of Education. Doctoral optometry students who are interested in focusing on pediatric populations or studying the relationship between vision and learning can earn a master’s of education degree during their optometry course of study.