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New U of M study finds declining academic performance among Flint school children in the wake of the city's water crisis

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

A new University of Michigan study finds Flint school children have shown a decline in academic performance since the city’s water crisis.

U of M researchers found math achievement for school-age children in Flint decreased and the proportion of children with special needs increased as a result of the Michigan city’s water crisis during 2014-16. The study finds the effects continued for several years after Flint’s water source was switched back to Detroit.

The researchers also found little difference in the academic outcomes of school-age children living in homes with lead service lines compared to those in homes with copper service lines.

Brian Jacob is a Professor of Public Policy, Economics, and Education. He said the study shows the effect of a crisis in a community.

“I think anyone would have expected that too would have had a detrimental effect on students’ outcomes,” said Jacob.

Jacob does have one caveat: the data is primarily from students in the third grade and higher.

Studies have shown younger children are at an even higher risk from lead exposure.

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