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Knowledge From the Field

Evaluation of Experience Corps: Student Reading Outcomes

Published: June 2009

Publisher(s): Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis

Funder(s): Atlantic Philanthropies

View Report (40 pages; 412KB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Literacy/Reading Skills; Low-Performing Schools

Abstract: The Experience Corps (EC) program brings older adults into public elementary schools to tutor and mentor children who are at risk of academic failure. At the beginning of the school year, teachers referred all students who needed assistance with reading, and students were randomly assigned to the EC program. The program is primarily focused on literacy and relationship building. This report evaluates the effects of the EC program on student reading outcomes. Data for the study came from interviews with students, assessments completed by teachers, and school records.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

+ EC program had statistically significant and substantively important effects on reading outcomes.

+ Students in the EC program made statistically greater gain over the academic year on passage comprehension and on assessments of grade-specific reading skills.

+ Teachers overwhelmingly rated the EC program as beneficial to students, and they found that it had no or low burden to them.

+ The effects of the program were consistent (for the most part) across subgroups of students (e.g., gender, ethnicity, grade, classroom behavior, or English proficiency of the student).

= There was some indication that special education students did not benefit as much from the benefits of the EC program as their non-special education counterparts.

= Tutor relationship was related to reading outcomes, with better relationships associated with better outcomes.

= When including only the EC students who received at least 35 sessions, a criterion chosen to indicate that the students received the intervention as intended, the effects were stronger.

Geographic Focus : Boston, MA; New York, NY; Port Arthur, TX

Subjects/Keywords : Low-Performing Schools; literacy; mentoring; tutoring; at risk students; academic failure

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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