Effectiveness of volunteer tutoring (Best Evidence in Brief)

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and this time I picked this study from this biweekly newsletter written up by Justin Hill:

Carrie E. Markovitz and colleagues recently reported on a replication and expansion of a previous randomized controlled trial  focused on volunteer tutoring in reading for at-risk early elementary school students. The current study focuses on the effectiveness of the Minnesota Reading Corps and the Wisconsin Reading Corps, which are both programs within AmeriCorps. The initial 2014 study focused solely on Minnesota and was limited in its ability to assess impacts for second and third grade students. The authors suggest the current study is useful because aspects of the tutoring programs have changed, they are now evaluating the effects of tutoring in two separate programs, and they are now able to have a longer evaluation of the effects on second and third grade students. The current study used a matched-pairs design in which students were matched based upon their baseline fall test scores, and then one student was assigned to the control group while the other was assigned to the tutoring program. The Minnesota portion of the study utilized 60 kindergarten students, 160 first-grade students, 190 second-grade students, and 212 third-grade students while the Wisconsin portion enrolled 64 kindergarten students and 112 first-grade students.
In Minnesota, kindergarten students in the tutoring program for one semester identified 10.9 more letter sounds within one minute than students in the control group (ES = + 0.85, p = .01). First grade students in the tutoring program for one semester identified 16.3 more letter sounds within one minute than students in the control group (ES = + 0.81, p < .001) and read 13.3 more words aloud than students in the control group (ES = + 0.61, p = .02). Finally, second and third grade students in the tutoring program for one year read 6.4 more words aloud in one minute than students in the control group (ES = + 0.28, p < .01).
In Wisconsin, kindergarten students in the tutoring program for one semester identified 6.5 more letter sounds within one minute than students in the control group (ES = + 0.55, p = .04). First grade students in the tutoring program for one semester identified 8.7 more letter sounds within one minute than students in the control group (ES = + 0.46, p < .01). In both states, the strongest effects were noted for younger children. Kindergarten students in the tutoring program in both states surpassed the benchmark achievement level while students in the control group remained behind grade level. Despite also making progress, older students in the tutoring program were not able to achieve their grade-level benchmark scores. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of structured volunteer tutoring in reading, especially for younger students.

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