Reading Rescue 

Purpose

Literacy intervention for Kindergarten through 2nd grade 

In fall 2021, New York Department of Education reading readiness screenings identified significant literacy gaps at Brooklyn’s PS56 Lewis H. Latimer Elementary School, a problem which intensified throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Conway Boyce, Universal Literacy Reading Coach at PS56, knew just the solution for PS56’s struggling and grade-level Kindergarten through 2nd grade readers. 

Impact

In summer 2021, Boyce completed virtual Reading Rescue training on the program’s three phases: onboarding through companion program Reading Ready; 1:1 Reading Rescue tutoring; and 1:3 small-group Reading Rescue tutoring. After seeing his school’s screening results, Boyce placed several struggling readers into the Reading Rescue program. 

In spring 2022, 24 Reading Rescue tutors who are mostly pre-service teachers from the City University of New York (CUNY) provide daily one-on-one instruction for one hour to struggling readers in the virtual literacy laptop lab that Boyce, who also tutors, created. Some of PS56’s classroom teachers are also trained in the program and provide small-group instruction in classrooms. This allows PS56 to scale up and increase impact across a larger number of students.

When the pandemic’s Omicron wave hit in winter 2021, and teachers and tutors were absent, the students didn’t miss a beat. Reading Rescue’s virtual tutors provided consistent tutoring, thanks to a deep bench of trained instructors and the program’s unique adaptability to a virtual format.

Students at each Reading Rescue phase have seen significant growth in reading proficiency, but the best success story isn’t in the data. It’s in the excitement of one boy who began Reading Rescue unable to identify words or letter sounds. Every day, he shows Boyce his notebook of hand-written words that he has mastered. It’s a proud moment for Boyce, too. 

“Reading Rescue tutors meet our students where they are and challenge them. Without question, I recommend it as an intervention strategy to address reading skill deficits. It’s also helped our teachers become proficient in another literacy program to further differentiate their classrooms for small-group instruction.”

Conway Boyce, Universal Literacy Reading Coach, New York Department of Education

Reading Rescue:

  • Daily one-on-one or small group literacy interventions by trained Reading Rescue tutors who are pre-service teachers preparing for teacher certification at local universities
  • Computer-based pre-assessment measuring foundational literacy skills; upon completion of 40-session program, post-assessment measuring unbiased and normed foundational skill outcomes
  • Trained staff ensures program fidelity and manages data collection
  •  Research and evidence inform continual improvement of the program
  • The Benedict Silverman Foundation provides catalytic funding during a program implementation and scaling phase, with programs self-sustaining thereafter.
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