Lead poisoning hurts Detroit kids’ academics

Detroit Free Press reporters Tina Lam and Kristi Tanner-White report that data compiled by the city shows that “More than half of the students tested in Detroit Public Schools have a history of lead poisoning, which affects brain function for life.” Lead poisoning is bad news, but it gets much worse:detroit

Now, a landmark study by the city health department and Detroit Public Schools of lead data and test scores shows that the higher the lead level, the worse a student’s scores on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program exam, or MEAP.

Overall, 58% of roughly 39,000 DPS students tested – 22,755 children – had a history of lead poisoning, according to the study.

Perhaps more startling: Of the 39,199 students tested as young children, only 23 had no lead in their bodies.

There are confounding factors, of course, but this chart shows the correlation between lead exposure and weaker academic skills. It’s yet another blow for a school district whose students were already some of the worst performing in the nation.

The story ran with an excellent graphic on lead poisoning levels throughout the city over time, as well as a school-by-school database of lead poisoning statistics.

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