Trey Truitt eyes comeback after vision defect dampened last season – Mercer Cluster

It’s the top of the eighth. The game is tied 7-7. One out. Runners on first and second. Full count. The conference championship is on the line. As Trey Truitt laid the bat on his shoulder, he stared at the pitcher thinking, “If the ball was coming to hit me, I had to turn and…
— Read on


The Pressure to Learn to Read Early

The Pressure to Learn to Read Early

There are very few children of average intelligence who cannot learn to read. Learning to read is a difficult process. The only reward in the early stages is the satisfaction of increasing success at breaking the code and being able to do something that adults do. It takes a long time – longer for some than for others – to be able to read independently for fun and for information. Continue reading

The Smartest Kids in the World And How They Got That Way, Part One

Amanda Ripley

Almost everyone has opinions about how to make education better. In The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got that Way, Amanda Ripley reports comparisons of education in the United States with education in other countries.

The beginning of this book is a story about three exchange students from different states in the United States,  one of whom goes to Finland, one to South Korea, and one to Poland. These countries were chosen due to how well their students scored on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). While no test is perfect, PISA was developed and administered for the first time in 2000, to “measure the kind of advanced thinking and communication skills that people needed to thrive in the modern world.” p. 15 It has  demonstrated its efficacy on a number of different scales including college performance and success in the workplace.


The United States has dropped from the highest rate of high school graduation in the world to 20th.  “The PISA revealed what should have been obvious but was not: that spending on education did not make kids smarter. Everything – everything – depended on what teachers, parents, and students did with those investments. pp. 17 – 18 “By the time of my quest, the United States had wasted more time and treasure on testing than any other country.” p. 19wasted testing

By comparing different countries, Amanda Ripley found a number of critical factors. Our aversion to having children fail and the emphasis on self-image is part of the problem. “Kids in Poland were used to failing, it seemed. The logic made sense. If the work was hard, routine failure was the only way to learn.  ‘Success’ as Winston Churchill once said, ‘is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.’” p. 72 “Failure in American schools was demoralizing and to be avoided at all costs. American kids could not handle routine failure, or so adults thought.” p. 72 Being hard does not mean that successful learning can’t be accomplished but it requires talented, well-trained teachers, work, time, and persistence. It also doesn’t mean being insensitive. Successful teaching requires individualized attention when a student is having a problem.

061026-N-5271J-014 Sasebo, Japan (Oct. 26, 2006) - Jennifer Tonder (right), a teacher's aide for a 3rd-4th grade multi-age class, discusses the various books available from the Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) grant given to Sasebo Elementary School with a student. The RIF donated 1,000 books to the school's library. Sasebo Elementary was the first overseas school to receive the RIF grant. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Johnstone (RELEASED)

Minnesota is an example of what can be done in the United States. Students were doing poorly in math across the state. “A coherent, clear set of standards, which focused on a few important topics each year, rather than dozens, helped repair this damage. At the same time, elementary students across the state started spending sixty minutes per day on math, up from thirty minutes in 1995.” p. 75 Their performance in math soared.

Many children start having trouble with math in middle school and decide that math is either something that you are good at or you aren’t. “Interestingly, that was not the kind of thing that most Americans said about reading. If you weren’t good at reading, you could, most people assumed, get better through hard work and good teaching. But in the United States, math was, for some reason, considered more of an innate ability, like being double-jointed.” p. 77

ROBERT HUGHES/SPECIAL TO ALLIANCE REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS/The 2004 Southlake Carroll High Dragons are the preseason top-rated football team in the nation by StudentSports Magazine. Head Coach Todd Dodge instructs them after practice on Friday.

One of the students that Amanda Ripley followed went from Oklahoma to Finland which has dramatically improved its student performance over the past 50 years. “The Finns decided that the only way to get serious about education was to select highly educated teachers, the best and the brightest of each generation, and train them vigorously. So that’s what they did. It was a radically obvious strategy that few countries had attempted.” p. 89 Ripley compares the student’s math teacher in Finland to the math teacher that she had in OK who was hired to be the football coach. “Nationwide, less than half of American high-school math teachers majored in math. Almost a third did not even minor in math.” p. 93


Ripley also brought in statistics which represent universals across cultures. “When children were young, parents who read to them every day or almost every day had kids who performed much better in reading, all around the world, by the time they were fifteen.” p. 100 “It meant asking them questions about the book, questions that encouraged them to think for themselves. It meant sending a signal to kids about the importance of not just reading but of learning about all kinds of new things.” p. 108 “At least one high-impact form of parental involvement did not actually involve kids or school at all: If parents simply read for pleasure at home on their own, their children were more likely to enjoy reading too. That pattern held fast across very different countries and different levels of income.” p. 111


Everyone recognizes that how children are treated is important, but pure research often ignores this to control variables. The model in Korea is pressure and extremely long hours – 12 hours or more of class a day. In Finland and Poland, students are given more freedom to make important decisions. They are not tracked as early and the expectation that all children can learn causes more children to be successful. They spend much less per student than in the US and don’t use calculators, iPads, buzzers, or interactive white boards. A high percentage of the students have a positive attitude about learning and understand that learning is important.

August is National Children’s Vision and Learning Month

20th Anniversary of August is National Children’s Vision and Learning Month: Eye Coordination Problems Can Make Words “Hop Like Frogs”

Tue, Aug 04, 2015 23:35 CETWith many children going back to school in August, now is the perfect time to focus on the critical link between vision and learning.

“More than 5 million children in the U.S. have eye coordination and eye focusing disorders which cause them to continue struggling with reading despite the best interventions,” shares Dr. Kara Heying, OD, FCOVD, President of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD); “Children don’t know how they are supposed to see, so they rarely complain; they show us they have a problem with their behavior.”

Jude was a bright and inquisitive child, yet he struggled to learn how to read. “His attention span was not age-appropriate for a first grader. Test questions were left unanswered and marked wrong, even though he knew the material. Meltdowns became a common occurrence during homework time. He started becoming indifferent to any consequences, insisting that he was trying his best,” explains his mother Trenna Stout; “Our happy child was slowly becoming an unhappy, frustrated boy.”

When his parents voiced their concerns that their child wasn’t reading, his pediatrician explained it away by saying he was “a precocious boy” while and his teachers used words like “energetic” and “active”. His reluctance to read was deemed a behavioral issue and generally disregarded.

Despite these explanations and the reassurance that he would eventually catch up, Jude’s reading continued to lag behind. Fortunately for the Stout family, Trenna is a reading interventionist and was therefore able to use her skills to work with her son directly. Taking the issue into her own hands, she asked him many questions about reading, such as, “Do you get headaches? Do your eyes get tired? Do the words get blurry?”  He responded with, “No mommy, but the words hop like frogs on the page and punctuation gets smaller and smaller…until POOF, they disappear!” 

At last, the door was opened as to why reading was so difficult for Jude. An evaluation by a developmental optometrist quickly identified the source of the problem: convergence insufficiency , a common eye coordination disorder.  A program of optometric vision therapy was developed and followed, drastically changing Jude’s life for the better. Trenna shares, “His scores in reading, math, art, social studies, and library improved after vision therapy. He is reading on grade level with more fluency and no meltdowns. He initiates homework time and requires much less assistance completing it.”

After such dismissal and apparent unconcern over what was deemed a case of excess energy, Jude’s parents never expected a vision problem would be to blame. In the past, Jude had been diagnosed with farsightedness , amblyopia (“lazy eye”) , and astigmatism by a reputable pediatric ophthalmologist. He was prescribed glasses and his parents were advised that future patching treatment might be necessary. Trenna “thought his vision was ‘fixed’”.

“Being educators, our child study team would make referrals to a developmental optometrist for a comprehensive vision exam , particularly when a student would not qualify for special education services. Therefore, we were familiar with this field.” Trenna continues, “However, it wasn’t until our son articulated that words were moving and punctuation was disappearing that we realized his vision needed more attention than his pediatric ophthalmologist had provided only a few months prior.”

As a parent and reading interventionist, Trenna has a very important message for other parents whose children may be needlessly struggling:  “As teachers ourselves, we knew there was more to Jude’s reading and learning issues than the explanations we were receiving. More importantly, our parents’ intuition told us something wasn’t right. There is something to be said for a gut feeling a parent has that should not be discredited. Although teachers and specialists are experts in education, and pediatricians are experts in children’s medical care, a parent is the expert when it comes to their child.  You are your child’s best advocate and should ask questions, raise concerns, and request assistance until you are heard.”

Eye coordination and eye focusing problems can make learning difficult; they can make the words appear blurry, double or look like they are moving. But fortunately children don’t have to struggle! Research from the last 20 years has clearly shown that problems with eye coordination and eye focusing are common and can be effectively treated with Optometric Vision Therapy .

It is important to see the right health care professional. The majority of vision screenings performed in schools and pediatricians’ offices are not designed to test for problems with eye coordination, tracking, or focusing. In fact, vision screenings miss at least 50% of vision problems . In addition, general eye exams often do not thoroughly evaluate all the visual skills required for academic success .

“It is vital that parents know the signs to look for ,” states Dr. Heying; “Seeing 20/20 is just the beginning. All it means is you are able to see a certain size letter from a distance of 20 feet; so even children who can see 20/20 can have eye coordination problems.”

The 5 most common signs that a vision problem may be interfering with reading and learning are:

  1. Difficulty completing homework
  2. Inattentive or easily distracted
  3. Loss of place when reading
  4. Eyes are uncomfortable or sore when reading
  5. Gets tired when reading

For more information about the critical link between vision and learning and a more in-depth checklist, visit .

“It doesn’t make sense for children to continue to struggle when there is a solution,” explains Dr. Heying. “We are issuing a special infographic for parents and educators to share with their friends and families. Please help us spread the word.

CONTACT: Pamela R. Happ, MSM, CAE
COVD Executive Director
330.995.0718 tel

About COVD

The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) is an international, non-profit optometric membership organization that provides education, evaluation, and board certification programs in behavioral and developmental vision care, vision therapy, and visual rehabilitation.  The organization is comprised of doctors of optometry, vision therapists and other vision specialists. For more information on learning-related vision problems, vision therapy and COVD, please visit or call 330.995.0718.

A series of  public service announcements  (PSAs) are available at to help raise awareness that vision problems can not only interfere with learning, but sports performance, and other activities of daily living. These PSAs also address vision problems that impact individuals who have autism spectrum disorders or those who have suffered a head injury.


About Us

The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) is a non-profit, international membership association of eye care professionals including optometrists, optometry students, and vision therapists. Established in 1971, COVD provides board certification for eye doctors and vision therapists who are prepared to offer state-of-the-art services in:o Behavioral and developmental vision careo Vision therapyo Visual rehabilitationThese specialized vision care services develop and enhance visual abilities and correct many vision problems in infants, children, and adults.The COVD International Examination and Certification Board process includes a rigorous evaluation of the eye care professional’s knowledge and abilities in providing developmental and behavioral vision care for patients. Optometrists who successfully complete their certification process are Board Certified in Vision Development and Vision Therapy and are designated Fellows of COVD (FCOVD). Vision therapists are certified to work with COVD Fellows as Certified Optometric Vision Therapists (COVT).Associate members of COVD are practicing optometrists who have not yet completed the Fellowship process. COVD associates are required to participate in professional continuing education to enhance their knowledge and skills in behavioral vision care.Vision care provided by all COVD members is based on the principle that vision can be developed and changed. For example, we know that infants are not born with fully developed visual abilities and that good vision is developed through a learned process.




“We are issuing a special infographic for parents and educators to share with their friends and families. Please help us spread the word.”

Dr. Kara Heying

The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control, Part Two


Walter Mischel

Walter Mischel is presenting research about traits which have a higher correlation with a happy and productive life than do the results of formal measurements of intelligence. Programs which are promoted to stimulate intellect are not directed toward overall development. It is difficult to resist what is currently in vogue when it is promoted by professionals, popularized by the media and endorsed by other parents. There are constancies in child development which anthropologists have measured over time and across cultures. How children are nurtured, however, varies across cultures and changes in our culture from generation to generation. Walter Mischel goes on to explain about how self-control can be developed…. Continue reading