New Study Finds a Strong Link Between Lead in the Environment and Lower Test Scores

Recent JBHE posts reporting on the results of the ACT and SAT college entrance examinations show a large and persisting racial gap in test scores. Commentators have expressed a wide range of explanations for the racial gap.

nber_logoA new working paper from the National Bureau of Economics Research finds that children’s exposure to lead in their environment can have a significant effect on their tests scores. Many Black children from low-income families live in older housing where lead-based paint was used and remains in their residential environment.

Deteriorating lead paint and its dust can be inhaled or ingested by young children, with negative cognitive effects that last for years. The study found that for each one percentage point increase in blood lead levels in children there was a correlating one percentage point decline in reading scores on standardized tests.

Anna Aizer, professor of economics at Brown University and lead author of the study, stated that “this study underscores the importance of looking at factors outside the educational setting to help explain persistent gaps in test scores.”

The study, “Do Low Levels of Blood Lead Reduce Children’s Future Test Scores?” may be accessed here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs