A scalable mentoring model for raising student achievement
Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner has been intentional about bringing awareness to the staggering statistic that only 30% of the district’s third graders currently can read on grade level. With third grade literacy as a known predictor of a student’s future academic and life success, this fact points to a critical need in our community – and a call to action for all citizens invested in Fort Worth’s future.
Reading Partners is addressing this issue through a literacy intervention program that is gaining traction in Fort Worth and demonstrating real results within its target low-income student population. Through a scalable, one-to-one mentoring model, Reading Partners is ideally poised to partner with local schools and volunteers to unlock potential for our city’s most at-risk students.
Reading Partners is the only national nonprofit organization with a comprehensive, evidence-based program model that features in-school, one-on-one literacy instruction by volunteers who are trained and supported by staff. It serves students who are one month to 2.5 years behind grade level in reading, from kindergarten through fourth grade.
The intervention improves student achievement by focusing on the following key elements:
- Engaging the community in their work by leveraging community volunteers. Reading Partners’ success depends on the recruitment and training of community volunteer mentors. Each volunteer is given personalized training and on-site support to ensure they are prepared and comfortable using the Reading Partners instruction techniques and curriculum.
- Using a proven program model with fidelity. Reading Partners provides volunteer tutors research-based, structured lesson plans supplemented by strategies that allow for customization to each student.
- Individualizing the program to meet students’ unique needs. Ongoing assessments (three times per year) and one-on-one engagement with tutors help tailor the curriculum to address each student’s strengths and areas for improvement.
Since its founding in 1999, Reading Partners has expanded to 14 regions across the country. Locally, in just its second year in Fort Worth, Reading Partners operates in four FWISD schools: Edward J. Briscoe, Como Elementary (after school), Dolores Huerta, and Worth Heights and one charter school: Uplift Education Meridian. Plans are to continue to expand within FWISD and Uplift Education charter schools. The initial results and outcomes for their first year in FWISD have been extremely encouraging:
- 109 students were reached in the 2015-2016 school year.
- 96% of participating students met or exceeded their end-of-year literacy growth goals.
- 97% of participating students in the K-2 grades have mastered the foundational reading skills necessary to be on path for the third grade reading level.
- 100% of principals report improved school-wide reading progress, as reported in surveys.
- 100% of volunteers were satisfied with their experience, as reported in surveys.
In addition to its Fort Worth success, Reading Partners has been recognized at a national level for its program effectiveness and evaluation practices. MDRC, the nation’s leading education research group, evaluated Reading Partners in 2012-2013 school year, through a randomized control trial study of more than 1,200 second through fifth graders. MDRC’s findings showed that Reading Partners boosted three different measures of reading proficiency. Reading Partners was accepted into the Institute of Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) in 2015. The mission of the WWC is to conduct reviews of existing research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education with a goal to provide educators with information to make evidence-based decisions.
The Miles Foundation is pleased to support Reading Partners in its mission to unlock potential for all students by facilitating their critical transition from learning to read to reading to learn.