OAKLAND, Calif. -- Community volunteers and AmeriCorps members can make a significant impact on student reading proficiency and are a low cost option for schools, according to the results of a study by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research firm.
The yearlong randomized control trial examined Reading Partners, a national nonprofit organization that engages volunteers to deliver a structured, evidence-based curriculum through one-on-one tutoring to struggling readers in low-income communities.
The study found that Reading Partners boosted three different measures of reading proficiency over a control group of students, many of whom also received supplemental reading services. It also included a cost analysis, which revealed that the Reading Partners program is substantially less costly for schools to implement than typical literacy interventions. Nationwide, two out of three fourth-graders are reading below grade level, and almost onethird of children lack even basic reading skills. Children who struggle with reading in elementary school are at high risk of academic failure, high school dropout, and other negative outcomes.