WWC review of this study

Mobilizing volunteer tutors to improve student literacy: Implementation, impacts, and costs of the Reading Partners program.

Jacob, R. T., Armstrong, C., & Willard, J. A. (2015). New York: MDRC. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED558508

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    1,151
     Students
    , grades
    2-5

Reviewed: June 2016

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Alphabetics outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

All students;
1,147 students

92.78

91.37

Yes

 
 
4
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Students in grades 2 and 3;
594 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
7

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Male students;
627 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
5

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Female students;
514 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Students who are ELs;
625 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
4

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Students who are not ELs;
498 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE)

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Students in grades 4 and 5;
557 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
Reading comprehension outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating
Reading fluency outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

AIMSweb CBM Words Read Correct

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

All students;
1,151 students

0.06

-0.03

Yes

 
 
4
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

AIMSweb CBM Words Read Correct

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Female students;
514 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
6

AIMSweb CBM Words Read Correct

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Students who are ELs;
625 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
6

AIMSweb CBM Words Read Correct

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Students in grades 2 and 3;
594 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

AIMSweb CBM Words Read Correct

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Students in grades 4 and 5;
557 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

AIMSweb CBM Words Read Correct

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Male students;
627 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

AIMSweb CBM Words Read Correct

Reading Partners vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Students who are not ELs;
498 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 55% English language learners

  • 90% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 45%
    Male: 55%
  • Race
    Asian
    9%
    Black
    19%
    Not specified
    1%
    White
    6%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    65%
    Not Hispanic
    35%
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    California, District of Columbia, New York

Setting

The study took place in 19 schools: 16 schools in California, two in New York, and one in Washington, DC. The majority of the schools were Title I schools. Eight of the 19 schools were “in varying stages of federal School Improvement status.”

Study sample

The analytic sample was 55% male, 65% Hispanic, 19% African American, 9% Asian, 6% White, and 1% other race or ethnicity. Over 90% of students in the analytic sample were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 55% of students were English learners. The intervention and comparison groups had similar characteristics.

Intervention Group

The Reading Partners intervention was a pull-out program that was offered during school hours or afterschool programs. Volunteer tutors and students met in a dedicated space, and the program was designed to provide two 45-minute sessions per week. The average number of Reading Partners tutors assigned to each student was 2.5. Across schools, the average number of tutors assigned to each student ranged from 1.7 to 3.6 tutors. On average, students received about 1.5 tutoring sessions per week for 28 weeks. In eight of the 19 schools, the Reading Partners center was in its second year of operation, while the rest had been operating a Reading Partners center for at least 3 years.

Comparison Group

Students assigned to the comparison group did not receive one-to-one tutoring through the Reading Partners program during the study period, but they were eligible for other supplemental reading services at school. The supplemental programs were usually offered in small group settings. The researchers found that 65% of comparison group students received supplemental reading services at school, and 21% of comparison group students received one-to-one tutoring. On average, the comparison students received 57 fewer minutes of supplemental reading instruction time per week than the intervention group. The researchers also found that 26% of comparison group students had received Reading Partners services prior to the study period.

Support for implementation

In addition to volunteer tutors, other core components of the Reading Partners program that supported the implementation of the individualized tutoring included the following: dedicated space and materials (including work stations, a library, and resource materials); a structured curriculum that tutors use with students; availability and use of assessment tools to be administered to students during the academic year; 2 weeks of training for new program managers; ongoing training provided to volunteers at the beginning of the year and on a monthly basis thereafter; and instructional supervision and support provided by staff to volunteer tutors.

Reviewed: August 2015

Study sample characteristics were not reported.
 

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