Posted by: Francis Koster Published: December 18, 2023

Maybe More Than You Need to Hear About Hearing Loss (November 24, 2023)

Maybe more than you need to hear about how hearing loss is hurting your students. (Pun?)

(Not duplicate content from last email).

I am sure that over the Thanksgiving Holiday none of you forgot that North Carolina has around one-in-five K-12 students with unrecognized and untreated mild-to-moderate hearing loss that lowers learning and consequently your school’s ranking. [i],[ii],[iii],[iv] This number seems unbelievable, so I did a lot of research to verify it.  You can see my sources in footnotes #2, #3, #4 and #5 below.

Are you hearing me?   If you can get these students help, you will make a huge difference in their lives and in the success of your school – and stop our state from being one of the worst ranked states for K-12 education success in America.

I am also sure that you figured out that unless there is a helpful intervention, the learning gap between hearing impaired and normal hearing K-12 students widens every consecutive year.  Children with unrecognized or untreated mild-to-moderate hearing loss achieve one to four grade levels lower, on average, than their peers with normal hearing.[v]

In North Carolina, the average primary school with around 500 students has somewhere between 70 and  100 kids with unrecognized hearing loss, and the average high school with around 800  students has around 160 with unrecognized hearing loss.[vi] [vii]

There are many interventions that can be made to help a hearing challenged student, ranging from moving the child to the front row of seats to working with parents to help them recognize the condition, all the way up to helping the student get hearing aids.

A major study done in Indiana that compared academic performance of hard-of-hearing students wearing hearing aids to students with normal hearing found that the students with identified hearing loss, when wearing hearing aids, scored equal to or better than the statewide average for their peers on standardized tests. [viii]

The incidence of hearing loss among K-12 students is increasing.  The number one cause of hearing loss is loud noise.[ix],[x]  Use of earphone or ear buds when listening to music or playing computer games kicks off  a dangerous downward spiral in hearing. High volume in ear buds damages hearing, which causes the student to turn up the volume even more, which causes more damage.

One side effect is that an observant teacher or fellow students standing near the hearing impaired student can also hear the high volumes and be a ‘first responder’ and suggest that this student take a hearing survey – ironically using the same cell phone previously used to hear (so-called) music.  (In case you missed it, last newsletter tells you where to find these tools, or you can go to our website to find them).

Another thing school leadership can do is to request every employee use their cell phone or laptop to take a hearing test.  Whether the employee uncovers hearing loss in their own ears or not, the drill will raise the level of consciousness in your organization to hearing loss as an issue.

Given the fact that one in 10 Americans between the ages of 40 and 69 have what is called “substantial hearing impairment” (really hard of hearing), if you can get all your employees to join you in this effort, you will likely both help some number of your own employees and raise the consciousness in your school’s culture to this issue.   You are letting your bus drivers, maintenance staff, cafeteria workers, security personnel, IT staff and so forth become role models and partners in the educational process – moving them from being observers through the window in a classroom door to shapers of the culture the students live in.

The World Health Organization estimates that 60% of all childhood hearing loss is preventable.[xi]


THIS WEEKS POP QUIZ (Answers above Footnotes)

1)    How many retired people over 55 have college degrees and could be volunteers?

2)    How many volunteers do you have, and how many hours of service is your school getting per week?



I will try to get two more newsletters out before Christmas and then pause publication until early January. Those two newsletters will likely focus on some interesting topics: 1) Implications of Success Stories involving Vision Surveying, and 2) The implications of the roll-out of expanded Medicaid in North Carolina on School Health.

Regarding Medicaid expansion, this newly approved North Carolina program expansion will become available shortly.  Once all the launching kinks get sorted out, school clinical personnel can be reimbursed for some of the services the school system never got funded for before.   If you want more information, there is a “Medicaid Expansion Website, Toolkit and Sign-up Form” available at CLICK ON THIS LINK:


Pop Quiz Answers: 1) 59 million.  2) I bet you do not know.














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Francis P. Koster Ed.D.

Proven local solutions to national problems.


Francis P. Koster, Ed. D.

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