Reading Partners: The Implementation and Effectiveness of a One-on-One Tutoring Program Delivered by Community Volunteers

MDRC

12 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2014

See all articles by Robin Jacob

Robin Jacob

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Thomas Smith

Independent

Jacklyn Willard

MDRC

Rachel Rifkin

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Date Written: June 11, 2014

Abstract

This policy brief tells the story of Reading Partners, a successful one-on-one volunteer tutoring program that serves struggling readers in low-income elementary schools and that has already been taken to a large scale. In the years since its inception, Reading Partners has grown to serve more than 7,000 students in over 130 schools throughout California, Colorado, New York, Oklahoma, Maryland, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington, DC. In March 2011, the program was awarded a three-year investment of up to $3.5 million from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), matched by $3.5 million in grants from the True North Fund and coinvestors, to further expand its literacy program to elementary schools throughout the country and to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. (Reading Partners has also been expanding with the support of AmeriCorps, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service. AmeriCorps members provide teaching, mentoring, after-school support, and other services to students in more than 10,000 public schools, including one in three persistently low-achieving schools.)

This policy brief summarizes the early results of that evaluation, which was conducted during the 2012-2013 school year in 19 schools in three states, and which involved 1,265 students. The evaluation finds positive impacts of the program on three different measures of reading proficiency. After one year, Reading Partners, a one-on-one tutoring program delivered by volunteers, improved three different measures of reading proficiency for second- to fifth-graders — impacts equaling 1.5 to 2 months of growth in literacy achievement over a control group (who also received supplemental reading services). These encouraging results demonstrate that Reading Partners, when delivered on a large scale and implemented with fidelity, can be an effective tool for improving reading proficiency.

Keywords: tutoring, reading instruction, elementary students

JEL Classification: I21

Suggested Citation

Jacob, Robin and Smith, Thomas and Willard, Jacklyn and Rifkin, Rachel, Reading Partners: The Implementation and Effectiveness of a One-on-One Tutoring Program Delivered by Community Volunteers (June 11, 2014). MDRC, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2466586

Robin Jacob (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Thomas Smith

Independent

Jacklyn Willard

MDRC ( email )

200 Vesey Street
New York, NY 10281
United States

Rachel Rifkin

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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