A nonprofit focused on improving literacy rates says that 89% of the students it helped in the last year met standards for at least one early foundational reading skill.
Reading Assist said that’s a nearly 20% improvement from the 2021-2022 school year, during which 70% of students reached at least one benchmark.
“Our students exceeded our expectations this year with their reading growth,” said Caroline O’Neal, chief executive officer of the group. “As we add more students and expand our reach, our program continues to yield strong gains among struggling readers, which is a real testament to the effectiveness of high-dosage tutoring.”
Reading Assist credits high-dosage tutoring, stronger attendance and a return to in-person learning for the massive increase in performance.
The results are based on assessments of 470 students in kindergarten to third grade who received at least a month of tutoring from Reading Assist during last school year.
In total, the group serves about 1,200 students.
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Reading Assist also helped the young readers accelerate their learning, with students outpacing expectations for growth in some measures by a factor of seven. That represents 17 months of learning gained during the school year which lasts just over nine months.
During what was the group’s third year of summer programming, 87% of students showed improvement after just four weeks of tutoring.
A lot of the lessons incorporate materials and instruction that is aligned with the science of reading, research that shows how students learn to read using phonics and other techniques.
One method has students “drumming” words to the beat of each syllable.
The curriculum that Reading Assist uses is based on Acadience Learning tests, which focus on foundational reading skills.
About 100 tutors from the organization are sent to dozens of schools in Delaware to help children who are struggling to learn.
Reading Assist is also expanding its programming.
Following a spring 2022 pilot, it rolled out an after-school program to 10 sites during the 2022-23 school year, in which 5utors supported 114 students.
“We look forward to further strengthening our partnership with the Delaware Department of Education through the Accelerate Program this fall,” O’Neal said. “Delaware’s state leaders have taken important steps to address the literacy gap, and we are proud to play an integral role in those plans to improve literacy rates.”
The Accelerate Program is an education grant program that supports high-dosage tutoring in schools.
In May, Delaware was selected along with four other states to receive a $1 million grant, and Reading Assist will be the state’s partner to provide high-impact reading tutoring to students through this grant during the upcoming school year.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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