Reading Partners is a national nonprofit that recruits, trains, and supports community volunteers to increase the amount of time and personnel available during the school day to deliver data-driven, one-on-one tutoring to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. With Abell Foundation start-up support, Reading Partners launched programming in Baltimore in 2012; in the 2015-16 school year, they will serve 1,000 elementary students in 16 Title 1 schools.
Reading Partners operates fully stocked and staffed reading centers in each school, where they recruit and train volunteers to provide one-on-one literacy tutoring to K-5 students. The program specifically targets low-performing readers in regular education classes (those children reading six months to two years below benchmark with basic English skills). Reading Partners offers tutoring both during and after the school day four days a week, and recruits and trains approximately 50 volunteers for each school.
Each student is assessed and receives an individual reading plan that guides the instruction that volunteers use twice weekly for one-on-one, 45-minute sessions of tutoring. In-school tutoring is complemented by the “Million Minute” Reading at Home program that encourages out-of-school reading, and builds home involvement by giving students age- and skill-appropriate reading materials for home use – on average, children receive 30 books per year.
In a national random-assignment study, MDRC (a nonprofit education and social policy research organization) found that Reading Partners had a positive and statistically significant impact on reading comprehension, fluency, and sight word reading resulting in two months of additional growth. In 2013-2014, some 91 percent of Baltimore’s Reading Partners students accelerated their rate of learning; likewise 71 percent narrowed their gap to their peers reading on a proficient level.