Children who suffer from lead poisoning often have some delayed abilities. This can present challenges for them in school. It is imperative that school districts that have children affected by lead take the initiative to ensure that these kids have the best educational opportunities available.
When there is lead exposure that impairs a child's ability to learn, there must be accommodations made to ensure success. It isn't fair that a child should be set up to fail just because they suffer from this condition.
Blood lead level matters
The blood lead level of the student is one of the primary concerns. At the lowest level, the student might have a decrease in test scores. As the lead level rises, other issues become possible. These include:
- Decrease in proficiency of math, reading and science
- Likely classification as learning disabled
- 30% increase in failure rate of reading and math tests in third grade
- Lowered scores on reading readiness tests
- Lowered fourth grade performance scores
- Inclusion in special education
- Possibility of involvement in juvenile justice system
How schools can help
Because the lead exposure has a negative impact on the intelligence quotient, or IQ, the teachers working with these students must be prepared for dealing with the reduced ability to process information. The exact method that works for the situation depends on the child.
Some children might need school information presented in a specific manner. For example, they might need simplified instruction sheets or to have many verbal reminders while completing a task. They may require a longer time limit for a test.
A child who has lead poisoning-related disabilities might need to have an Individualized Education Program or 504 Plan put into place to accurately reflect their needs for the school year. Each year, teachers and other included parties can build on the plan from the year prior.
Having the parents involved in the child's education is beneficial. Reinforcing learning concepts and appropriate behavior models at home can be beneficial for the children. The parents might also opt to seek compensation for the lead poisoning. This could provide funding that will help them to be able to afford programs that can benefit the children. Ultimately, the children deserve to have a bright future without having to worry about a poison that can do so much damage.