Program

Oct 08, 2007

OVERVIEW

The Howard Street Tutoring Program seeks to provide quality,
after-school reading instruction to 2nd and 3rd grade
public school children who have fallen significantly behind their peers in
reading. In a random assignment study, students assigned to take part in
the tutoring program were compared with students assigned to a control
group. Over the course of the academic year, tutored children made
significantly greater gains in reading achievement than did children in the
control group. Tutored children, on average, gained over a year of
reading achievement, whereas control group children gained only two-thirds of a
year of achievement.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: 2nd and 3rd
graders who are below grade level in reading

The Howard Street Tutoring Program seeks to provide quality,
after-school reading instruction to 2nd and 3rd grade
public school children who have fallen significantly behind their peers in
reading. The program operates in a poor neighborhood on the far north
side of Chicago, Illinois.

Teachers at neighborhood schools identify poor readers in
their classes and reading specialists test these children on a variety of
informal reading and spelling measures. The lowest-scoring students are
invited to participate in the program, which runs for the length of the school
year.

The program operates on several general assumptions: that
children learn to read by reading and should be given opportunities to read
interesting stories, that children who are learning to read need semantic and
syntactic support (as offered by good stories written in natural language), and
that word study should play a role in a program designed to help beginners
learn to read and write.

Each student in the Howard Street program receives reading
instruction from a volunteer tutor two days a week, for an hour each day.
Tutoring sessions involve contextual reading at the child’s
instructional level, word categorization activities and games, practice in
writing, and easy contextual reading. Each session ends with the tutor
reading aloud to the child for 5-10 minutes.

Tutors are people from various walks of life: college
students, suburban mothers, retirees, and so forth. A trained reading
specialist serves as the tutor supervisor. This individual is salaried
and gives tutors on-the-job training and helps in preparing lesson plans for
each tutee.

The program serves approximately 20 children a year and
operated on an annual budget of $6,000 in the late 1980s.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Morris, D., Shaw, B., & Perney,
J. (1990). Helping Low Readers in Grades 2 and 3: An
After-School Volunteer Tutoring Program. The Elementary School
Journal, 91
(2), 132-150.

Evaluated population: At the beginning of the 1986-87
school year and the 1987-88 school year, two second
grade teachers and two third grade teachers were asked to identify the lowest
50 readers in their classrooms. These 50 children served as the study
sample for this investigation.

Approach: The 50 identified students were screened on
their word recognition abilities, their spelling, and their reading.
Children were matched into pairs, based on their word recognition abilities,
and were randomly assigned, within pairs, to either the treatment group or the
control group. Students assigned to the treatment group were given the
opportunity to participate in the Howard Street Tutoring Program. On
average, these students received 50 hours of one-on-one after-school reading
tutoring over the course of the year. Students assigned to the control
group were not given the opportunity to participate. In late May of each
year, students were again screened on the reading and spelling skills.

Results: On four of the five achievement measures
administered during this study, students assigned to take part in the Howard
Street Tutoring Program made significantly greater gains than did students
assigned to the control group. Nearly half of the students assigned to
the control group made less than half of a year’s
gain in reading achievement over the course of the school year and only 20% of control
students made at least a full year’s gain. By
contrast, nearly half of the students assigned to take part in the Howard
Street Tutoring Program made at least a full year’s
gain and only 23% made less than half of a year’s
gain. 34% of tutored students made more than a year and a half’s gain, whereas only one non-tutored child showed such
growth.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Morris, D., Shaw, B., & Perney,
J. (1990). Helping Low Readers in Grades 2 and 3: An
After-School Volunteer Tutoring Program. The Elementary School
Journal, 91
(2), 132-150.

KEYWORDS: Education,
Tutoring, Academic Achievement, Elementary School (Grades 2-3), Urban,
Reading/Literacy, Children (3-11).

Program information last updated on
10/8/07.