Impact Evaluation of the Minnesota Reading Corps K-3 Program
More than two-thirds of fourth grade students in the United States -- as many as six million children -- do not read proficiently. The problem is most acute for children living in poverty, children of color, English Language Learners, and children with disabilities.
The implications are profound: Third grade marks the pivotal point when children transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Children who can’t read by then struggle more with the increasingly complex, multidisciplinary information introduced in later grades. Those who read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to graduate from high school than those who don’t.
A growing body of research validates what works in teaching children to read: Well-trained tutors delivering early, targeted, evidence-based interventions to students in need.
To better understand how national service is addressing this challenge, CNCS funded a randomized controlled trial evaluation of Minnesota Reading Corps, the nation’s largest AmeriCorps tutoring program.
This rigorous third-party evaluation, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that elementary students tutored by AmeriCorps members achieved significantly higher literacy levels than students without such tutors, and that the impacts were statistically significant even among students at higher risk for academic failure.
Summary of key findings of the Impact Evaluation
Full report on Minnesota Reading Corps K-3 program impacts
Look at Minnesota Reading Corps program design
Additional charts, tables, and data
The Minnesota Reading Corps K-3 Program Impact Evaluation showed that AmeriCorps members can produce significantly greater increases in student literacy outcomes among elementary students over one semester of tutoring.
- The average kindergarten student with an AmeriCorps tutor performed twice as well as students without one.
- AmeriCorps tutors helped the average first grade student perform 26 percent better than the expected level for on-track students.
- Students with higher risk factors (such as dual language learners and students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch) who received AmeriCorps tutoring significantly outperformed students who didn’t.
- The Minnesota Reading Corps program is replicable in multiple school settings using AmeriCorps members with varied backgrounds, such as gender, race, age, years of education, full/part-time AmeriCorps status, and prior experience)
The Reading Corps Model
Minnesota Reading Corps, a strategic initiative of ServeMinnesota, demonstrates how service and science can accelerate improvement in both students and systems. By mobilizing the people power of AmeriCorps, Reading Corps provides proven literacy interventions and data-based assessments to children from age three to grade three.
Using the latest research on reading intervention strategies and guidance from literacy experts, Reading Corps fixes a critical link in literacy acquisition. It provides what struggling readers need – individualized, data-driven instruction, one-on-one attention, well-trained tutors, instruction delivered with fidelity, and the frequency and duration necessary for student achievement.
Since 2003, Minnesota Reading Corps has helped more than 100,000 struggling readers progress toward reading proficiency by the end of the third grade. The Reading Corps program has expanded to seven additional states (California, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia) and the District of Columbia. Altogether, more than 1,250 AmeriCorps members are using the Reading Corps model to serve 35,000 students across the country this year.