Monday, August 29, 2016
Lead poisoning may be one of the causes of continuing gaps in test scores
This study uses a unique individual-level longitudinal dataset linking preschool blood lead levels with third grade test scores for eight birth cohorts of Rhode Island children born between 1997 and 2005.
Using these data, the study shows that reductions of lead from even historically low levels have significant positive effects on children's reading test scores in third grade
The study's estimates suggest that a one unit decrease in average blood lead levels reduces the probability of being substantially below proficient in reading by 3.1 percentage points (on a baseline of 12 percent). Moreover, poor and minority children are more likely to be exposed to lead, suggesting that lead poisoning may be one of the causes of continuing gaps in test scores between disadvantaged and other children.