Research shows that achieving grade-level reading proficiency by the end of third grade predicts later academic and life success. To close gaps in reading proficiency, the Minnesota Reading Corps and Wisconsin Reading Corps use AmeriCorps workers as volunteer tutors for struggling or at-risk students in kindergarten through third grade.
A team of University of Chicago researchers, led by Carrie E. Markovitz, evaluated the impact of the tutoring and found the programs have significant effects for kindergarten and first grade students within a single semester. The study, funded by the U.S. Education Department and published by American Educational Research Journal, focused on public schools in rural areas and high-poverty urban neighborhoods.
The Reading Corps tutors were trained to use evidence-based literacy interventions in a response-to-intervention model based on the five key literacy principles: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The study replicated a 2014 randomized control trial of the Minnesota Readings Corps program.
Given their repeated success, the Reading Corps programs should serve as a model for developing other volunteer literacy enrichment and reading tutoring programs for early elementary students in diverse settings.
-By Gunjan Maheshwari