Mobilizing Volunteer Tutors to Improve Student Literacy: Implementation, Impacts, and Costs of the Reading Partners Program

Reading Partners
Implementing Organization: 
Reading Partners
Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

Reading Partners focuses on elementary school students in low-income communities who are at least six months behind in reading, recruiting and using community volunteers to provide individualized instruction to help them master the reading fundamentals they need to reach grade level. AmeriCorps members are leveraged to act as coordinators and volunteer recruiters for Reading Partners’ in-school sites. Evaluation of Reading Partners found that the program:

  1. more effectively raised students’ reading proficiency than other similar reading programs in the same schools that were studied;
  2. had a positive and statistically significant impact on students’ reading comprehension, reading fluency, and sight word efficiency; 
  3. showed suggestive evidence that it was particularly effective with students reading at the lowest levels; and 
  4. cost the host school/school district on average $710 per student, compared with an average of $1690 per student for other reading programs offered in the same school. 

In addition, the program was implemented as designed (i.e., with fidelity) across sites studied, and has a high likelihood of producing similar results if implemented with fidelity elsewhere.

CNCS Program(s): 
AmeriCorps State and National
Social Innovation Fund
CNCS Focus Area(s): 
Youth Development (SIF)
Age(s) Studied: 
0-5 (Early childhood)
6-12 (Childhood)
Focus Population(s)/Community(s): 
Low Income
Outcomes Category(s): 
K-12 Success
Study Type(s): 
Cost-Benefit or Cost Effectiveness Study
Study Design(s): 
Experimental (RCT)
Level of Evidence: 
Year Published: 
Date Posted Online: 
September 15, 2015
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