Can Reading Corps close the literacy gap in D.C.?

July 8

Most low-income children start school with literacy skills that lag way behind their higher-income peers. A tutoring program that is coming to two DCPS preschools this fall is trying to change that.

Reading Corps, a tutoring program that started in Minnesota a decade ago, now operates in eight states and D.C. The program has two components that are organized differently: one for students in kindergarten through third grade, and another for preschoolers.

In the D.C. area, Reading Corps operates under the aegis of a nonprofit, The Literacy Lab. During the last school year The Literacy Lab partnered with DCPS to bring the program to 10 DCPS elementary schools. Next year, the K-3 program will continue at those schools, and two of them — Aiton and Amidon-Bowen — will also be sites for Reading Corps’ preschool program.

While the preschool program wasn’t in place within DCPS last year, it did operate at one D.C. charter school and at six Head Start sites in Alexandria, with promising results.

All Reading Corps tutors receive training and work full-time under the regular supervision of instructional coaches. In the K-3 program, tutors pull students who are reading below grade level out of class for 20-minute sessions. But in the preschool program, tutors are embedded in high-need preschool classrooms throughout the school day.

A recent independent study of the K-3 program in Minnesota found that kindergarteners in the program performed twice as well as other students after only one semester of tutoring. More generally, students who were at-risk because they came from poor or non-English-speaking families showed significant gains.

[Continue reading Natalie Wexler's post at Greater Greater Education.]

Natalie Wexler is the editor of Greater Greater Education and a member of the board of the D.C. Scholars Public Charter School. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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