SOURCE: Minnesota Reading Corp and Math Corp

Minnesota Reading Corp and Math Corp

April 02, 2015 12:08 ET

Study Finds Minnesota Reading Corps Significantly Boosts Literacy Skills of Pre-K Students

AmeriCorps Tutors Help Pre-K Students Meet or Exceed All Targets for Kindergarten Readiness

MINNEAPOLIS, MN--(Marketwired - Apr 2, 2015) - A rigorous third-party evaluation of Minnesota Reading Corps, the nation's largest AmeriCorps tutoring program, has found that Pre-K students tutored by AmeriCorps members were significantly more prepared for Kindergarten in terms of five key literacy skills than students without such tutors.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) released an independent study of Minnesota Reading Corps. The study also found that the tutoring model is replicable in multiple school settings and effective for all students regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, or dual-language learner status.

This research follows an evaluation of the Minnesota Reading Corps K-3 program released last year. Those results found that AmeriCorps members can produce significantly greater increases in student literacy outcomes among elementary students over one semester of tutoring.

"Reading Corps has established itself as a vital piece of Minnesota's efforts to strengthen early learning and support our youngest learners," Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. "After spending time with the passionate staff and tutors, it is no surprise to see this validation of their success. I look forward to continued collaboration with the program, and I am excited to work with Governor Dayton and the Legislature to provide the funding necessary to scale up their work and serve even more kids."

Minnesota Reading Corps, a strategic initiative of ServeMinnesota, currently engages more than 1,200 AmeriCorps members at 740 public schools and Head Start centers throughout the state.

The research, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, used a quasi-experimental design (QED) outcome evaluation of more than 1,500 three-, four-, and five-year-old Pre-K students at 25 urban, suburban, and rural Minnesota schools during the 2013-2014 school year.

Among the key findings:

  • Minnesota Reading Corps tutors helped four- and five-year-old students meet or exceed spring targets for Kindergarten readiness in all five assessed areas. Students in comparison classrooms did so only for one. The effect sizes were not only significant, but substantial in magnitude.

  • By school's year end, four-and five-year old students in Minnesota Reading Corps classrooms outperformed students in comparison classrooms in all five emergent literacy outcomes assessed: recognizing letter sounds, rhyming words, letter names, picture names, and alliterations. 

  • The program was effective across a range of settings -- both in public schools and Head Start Centers -- and for all students regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, or dual language learner status.

  • By the end of the school year, three-year old students in Minnesota Reading Corps classrooms significantly outperformed students in comparison classrooms in rhyming words and picture names.

"This research provides more proof that AmeriCorps boosts student literacy levels -- an essential step toward achieving success in school and in life," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "The findings reinforce what we hear from principals and superintendents around the country about the value of AmeriCorps in helping students learn to read and stay on track in school. By combining the people power of AmeriCorps, with proven education strategies, this evidence-based initiative can successfully address one of our nation's most critical priorities."

With support from CNCS and matching funds from private sector and other sources, the Reading Corps program has expanded to seven additional states (California, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia) and the District of Columbia. Altogether, nearly 1,500 AmeriCorps members will use the Reading Corps model to serve 36,000 students across the country this year.

CNCS invests more than half of all AmeriCorps grant dollars in education, bringing tens of thousands of caring adults to schools across the country. AmeriCorps members provide teaching, tutoring, mentoring, afterschool support, and other services to students in more than 10,000 public schools, including one in three persistently low-achieving schools.

The Minnesota Reading Corps evaluations in PreK and K-3 settings are part of CNCS's priority to develop a knowledge and evidence base to support the agency's mission, programs, and strategic goals. More information, including a research brief, full report, appendices, process assessment, and other materials can be found on the CNCS research page.

Minnesota Reading Corps is a statewide literacy initiative of ServeMinnesota that blends the people power of AmeriCorps members with the science of how children learn how to read. Trained AmeriCorps members provide individualized tutoring and proven interventions for those children who are at risk of not reading at grade level. For more information, please visit MinnesotaReadingCorps.org.

ServeMinnesota is a catalyst for positive social change and community service, working with AmeriCorps members and community partners to meet critical needs in Minnesota. As a nonprofit organization, it recruits and supports thousands of individuals to improve the lives of Minnesotans by offering life-changing service opportunities that focus on education, affordable housing, employment, and the environment. Since its creation in 1994, ServeMinnesota has mobilized nearly 10,000 AmeriCorps members who train and support more than 300,000 volunteers. Because of its strong partnerships with private funders and public funders, including the Minnesota Department of Education, ServeMinnesota has created innovative strategic initiatives, Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps, that are working to close the achievement gap and help struggling students become successful learners. For more information, visit www.serveminnesota.org.

NORC at the University of Chicago delivers objective data and meaningful analysis to help decision-makers and leading organizations make informed choices and identify new opportunities. Since 1941, NORC has applied sophisticated methods and tools, innovative and cost-effective solutions, and the highest standards of scientific integrity and quality to conduct and advance research on critical issues. Headquartered in downtown Chicago, NORC works in over 40 countries around the world, with additional offices on the University of Chicago campus, the DC metro area, Atlanta, Boston, and San Francisco. For more information, visit www.norc.org.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

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