The Research

The Numbers Are In: Reading Corps Gets Results

Students who have Reading Corps tutors make greater gains in reading than those who don’t. In 2017, 2015 and 2014, independent evaluations of our PreK and K–3 programs were conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, a leading social-science research institution. The studies show that no matter where they’re located, preschool programs and elementary schools using Reading Corps realize significantly better outcomes for their students than programs that don’t have access to Reading Corps — and students with traditional risk factors make even more gains than their peers.

K-3 students outperform their peers

The NORC study conducted during the 2017-18 school year assessed the impact of Minnesota Reading Corps on Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade students’ literacy proficiency scores.

  • Students who received Reading Corps tutoring demonstrated additional growth equaling an extra 50 to 90 percent of a year of schooling.
  • First grade students who received Reading Corps in the first semester achieved significantly higher phonics scores and significantly higher reading fluency scores.
  • Minnesota Reading Corps second and third grade students attained significantly higher oral reading fluency scores by the Spring benchmark than control group students.

Students with risk factors make even greater gains

  • A statistically significant impact was found for second and third grade students regardless of minority status, gender, or ELL status.
  • Second and third grade students in each of these groups significantly outperformed control students on oral reading fluency scores, and grew faster than the typical Reading Corps student, reflecting a closure of the achievement gap.
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PreK students get a strong head start

NORC’s 2015 study showed that PreK students tutored by Minnesota Reading Corps members were significantly more prepared for kindergarten in five key literacy skills than students who didn’t receive our tutoring.

  • PreK Reading Corps students outperformed their peers in conversation skills; vocabulary and background knowledge; book and print rules; phonological awareness (rhyming and alliteration); and alphabetic knowledge (letter name recognition and letter sound correspondence).
  • Reading Corps was effective in rural, suburban and urban settings (including both public schools and Head Start centers), and for all students regardless of their gender, race/ethnicity, or English-language-learner status
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K–3 students leap ahead

In NORC’s 2014 study, K–3 students tutored by Minnesota Reading Corps members achieved significantly higher literacy levels than students without our tutors. Our impact was statistically significant even among students at higher risk of academic failure.

  • The average kindergarten student with a Reading Corps tutor performed twice as well as students without one.
  • Reading Corps students, including those with more risk factors (e.g., English language learners and students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch), made greater gains than their peers.
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The Math Adds Up: Reading Corps is Cost Effective

David Heistad and Robert Wedl conducted a matched sample analysis to better understand Reading Corps’ impact on Special Education referrals and potential cost savings. They found that at-risk students who were not enrolled in Reading Corps were referred to special education at three times the rate of Reading Corps participants (5.4% vs. 1.5%) by the end of one school year. It is estimated that in Minnesota alone, this diversion of children from special education results in a cost-savings to the educational system of $9 million per year.
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