This report shares findings of an independent study of Minnesota Reading Corps (MRC), an AmeriCorps programme that provides trained literacy tutors for children aged 3 to 9. It shows that primary pupils tutored by AmeriCorps members achieved significantly higher literacy levels than those without such tutors, and impacts were statistically significant even among pupils at higher risk of academic failure.
The research, which was completed by NORC at the University of Chicago, involved a randomised controlled trial of more than 1,500 pupils from kindergarten (Year 1) through to third grade (Year 4) at 23 urban, suburban, and rural Minnesota schools during the 2012-13 school year. These pupils were assigned to either the MRC programme or to a control group. Outcomes were measured using the AIMSweb literacy assessments, which evaluated letter sound fluency, nonsense word fluency, and oral reading fluency.
Overall, key findings included:
- After a single term of tutoring, the average kindergarten child with an AmeriCorps tutor performed twice as well as children without one.
- AmeriCorps tutors helped the average first grade pupil perform 11% better than untutored peers, and 26% higher than the expected level for on-track pupils after one term of tutoring.
- Pupils with higher risk factors (such as those with English as an Additional Language or those who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch) who received AmeriCorps tutoring significantly outperformed similar pupils.
Source: Impact Evaluation of the Minnesota Reading Corps K-3 Program, NORC at the University of Chicago.