Reading & Math, Inc.

Reading Corps

Grade Levels Group Size Tutor Type Students Per Tutor Per Year* Qualifying Studies Cost Per Student Average Effect Size
K-31: 1 or 1:2AmeriCorps MembersApproximately 25 per tutor2$1200+0.47

*Estimated number of students a tutor can serve in a year.  This is based on an estimate of 9 sessions per day, and one-half year of tutoring for each student.  For example, a tutor working with groups of two would see 18  students a day, and if students receive a half year of tutoring, tutors could see 36 students in a year. 

Contact Info

lindsay.dolce@servetogrow.org

Groups Studied
Black
Hispanic
White
Asian American
English Learners
Free Lunch

Communities Studied
Urban
Suburban
Rural

Program Description

Reading Corps is a tutoring model that provides one-on-one—or one-on-two—reading interventions for kindergarten through grade 3 students, using AmeriCorps members who embed into the school.  It was developed by ServeMinnesota and is disseminated by the non-profit, Reading and Math, Inc.

Video

Tutors

Tutors in Reading Corps are part- or full-time AmeriCorps members who are comprehensively trained and fully supported by the program. Schools partner with Reading and Math, Inc. to recruit community members to serve as the tutors. Schools also allocate a small portion of staff time to be trained in—and provide ongoing support for—implementing the program, including coaching tutors. Full-time tutors provide 15 or more 20-minute sessions per day, and part-time tutors provide between 9-12 20-minute sessions. Tutors usually tutor in person, but may also work online when in-person tutoring is not possible.

Students

Reading Corps was designed for students in kindergarten through grade 3 who score below expectations for development of foundational literacy skills. A school staff member selects eligible students for the tutor caseload based on assessment data the program helps collect.  Students receive 20 minutes a day of tutoring, usually for about a semester, until progress monitoring data indicate they meet eligibility for exiting the program, after which time they are monitored until the end of the school year.

Technology

None. The only commitments required by schools that adopt Reading Corps are (a) space for tutoring, (b) staff in-kind time (typically less than one day per month), and (c) agreement to use the program. 

Curriculum

Reading Corps focuses on developing foundational literacy skills.  It is curriculum neutral but standards-aligned, and it uses evidence-based practice strategies that improve sound awareness, phonics skills, and reading fluency.  In older grades, students also practice comprehension skills. 

Assessments

Reading Corps uses formative assessments developed by FastBridge Learning that have strong technical characteristics for reliability and criterion/predictive validity.  These assessments are used in the fall for determining eligibility (via program-developed cut-scores that predict success on tests like the ACTs), in follow-up seasonal benchmark periods, and for ongoing weekly progress monitoring.  The Reading Corps program provides access to a data management system that gives up-to-date reports on student performance as well as important dosage and fidelity information.  School staff and administration can access these data on-demand. 

Program Operation

Initial training typically occurs before each school year (though mid-year starts are permitted).  The school-appointed staff member provides on-demand support for tutors when scheduling students and interacting with teachers, as well as monthly coaching and feedback that focuses on ensuring high fidelity to the program.  Additionally, the program assigns a Coaching Specialist to each school, who provides additional regular (e.g., monthly) coaching to both the tutor and the school staff member and supports all data-driven decision-making practices (e.g., eligibility; graph interpretation; exit decisions). 

Professional Development, Progress Monitoring, and Follow-up

Reading Corps provides all training and ongoing professional development for tutors and school staff. The included data management system collects and reports on both student progress in literacy skills as well as tutor and program fidelity.  School and program staff collaborate on interpreting and responding to data on student progress and program fidelity.

Costs

Total Cost per FT Tutor (Approx.)$30,000
Costs per student (25 per tutor)$1,200

Note: AmeriCorps typically covers approximately 50% of tutor costs.  When included, local, state, and philanthropic funding must cover approximately $15,000 per tutor, reducing per-pupil costs to about $600. 

Research on Program Outcomes

Two studies have evaluated the literacy outcomes of Reading Corps. Both were student randomized studies, one taking place in 24 schools across Minnesota and the other in 10 schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The evaluation in Minnesota involved 622 K-3 students in a mix of urban and rural schools, with 63% FRL and 41% FRL respectively. About 60% of students were White, 16% Black, 14% Hispanic, and 27% ELL. Students in K-1 were assessed mid-year and scored significantly higher on measures of Letter Sound Fluency, Nonsense Word Fluency, and Oral Reading Fluency (effect size = +0.74). Second and third graders were assessed at the end of the school year, with Reading Corps students scoring significantly higher on Oral Reading Fluency (effect size = +0.28). The evaluation in Wisconsin involved 176 K-1 students, of whom 85% were Black, 8% Hispanic, and 81% eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Literacy skills were assessed after one semester, with Reading Corps students outperforming control students on Letter Sound Fluency (effect size = +0.55) and Nonsense Word Fluency (effect size = +0.46). Averaging across the two studies, weighting by sample size, the mean effect size was +0.47.


Key Studies

  • Markovitz, C., et al. (September 2018). Impact evaluation of the Wisconsin Reading Corps Program: Executive summary. Chicago, IL: NORC at the University of Chicago.
  • Markovitz, C., et al. (October 2018). Impact evaluation of the Minnesota Reading Corps K-3 Program (2017-18): Final report. Chicago, IL: NORC at the University of Chicago.
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