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Reading Partners works with communities, schools, and volunteers to provide high-dosage, one-on-one literacy tutoring for students. Fueled by the belief that reading is a civil right, the Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model provides an easy-to-use, evidence-based, and customizable curriculum, as well as extensive training, for community volunteers to deliver tutoring to students reading approximately 0.5 to 2.5 years below grade level. Reading Partners helps partner organizations, such as schools, after-school programs, community centers, and other youth-serving organizations, build a community-centered literacy ecosystem. 

Reading Partners’ curriculum consists of over 150 lessons aligned to the science of reading. During tutoring sessions, students choose a book to have read aloud to them, as well as learn and practice foundational literacy skills (e.g., decoding, fluency, alphabet), phonics and word analysis, and higher-level comprehension skills.

Since 1999, Reading Partners has been directly implementing its model in 12 metro areas across the United States. To help more students develop their reading skills, Reading Partners has expanded its programming to provide nationwide literacy tutoring via its online platform. During the 2022–2023 school year, 7,400 community tutors delivered literacy tutoring to over 6,000 students, and 82% of all Reading Partners students finished the year meeting or exceeding their primary end-of-year literacy growth goals. Tutoring powered by Reading Partners Overview

  • Language Arts & Literacy
  • Science of Reading
  • Tutoring or Mentoring
  • Family Engagement & Support
  • 1:1 Coaching & Consulting
  • Resource Toolkit
  • Professional Development

What Makes This Model Innovative?

Customization
The one-on-one Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model affords each student the opportunity to begin lessons at their own starting place and advance at their own pace.
Rigorous Learning
The curriculum is aligned to standards, as well as best practices in reading instruction, to promote mastery through alignment with classroom expectations.
Affirmation of Self & Others
Books include representative and diverse characters and themes so all students can see themselves reflected in the books they read while also learning about others and the world around them.

Goals

Reading Partners helps children become lifelong readers by empowering communities to provide individualized instruction with measurable results.

Mastery of Foundational Reading Skills

Reading Partner’s evidence-based, individualized instruction helps students build their foundational reading skills using its structured literacy curriculum.

Empowering Lifelong Readers

By providing evidence-based, individualized instruction to focus on the individual needs of each student, Reading Partners helps students become strong, confident readers with a passion for learning.

Experience

The Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model focuses on supporting K-4 students who are several months to two and a half years behind grade level in reading. Community volunteers help provide individualized literacy instruction to help students master the reading fundamentals they need to reach grade level. These literacy tutoring sessions can take place during school, after school, or outside of school at local community centers.

Reading Partners works with schools and community organizations to co-develop literacy goals that are right for their individual context, such as increasing their literacy scores or narrowing literacy learning gaps. After students have reached their goals, they graduate from the tutoring program.

Students enrolled in the programming receive 90 minutes of one-on-one literacy tutoring per week broken into two 45-minute sessions or three 30-minute sessions. Where possible, students meet with the same tutor each session to build a trusting, warm relationship. Tutoring sessions follow the same flow every time: tutor read aloud, direct instruction, and practice and application of skills.

Each tutoring session begins with a tutor read aloud for approximately 5–10 minutes. Because books are an opportunity to open eyes to unknown worlds and invite readers to join characters and authors in the stories, students can choose any book they’d like from Reading Partners’ intentionally curated diverse library. After reading the book aloud, the tutor asks questions, and discusses the book’s content and vocabulary with the student. This activity models fluency, builds on reading comprehension skills, and provides an opportunity for tutors to learn more about each student’s individual interests. Additionally, by demonstrating that books can be about any topic of interest, this read aloud helps children develop a love of reading.

The tutor introduces a new standards-aligned skill or concept at the student’s identified reading level and helps them complete a variety of literacy  tasks. Using structured literacy lesson plans with explicit instructional language, each skill is introduced through direct instruction. The tutor scaffolds the lesson to help the student acquire the skill before providing an opportunity to independently apply the skill in connected text. 

For example, a tutor may introduce the sh sound to an emerging reading by showing the letters, pointing under the letters, and introducing a word that contains the letter sound, such as shark. Students and tutors see the same screen, though the tutor version includes explicit instructional language for the skill (blue text) and directions for the tutor (black text).

Students are assessed at enrollment and placed at an appropriate starting lesson in the curriculum sequence specific to their literacy needs, where they practice key reading skills and develop their vocabularies.

  • Emerging Readers (Kindergarten reading level) learn about letters, sounds in spoken language, and how print works.
  • Beginning Readers (1st grade reading level) learn phonics, sight words, and early comprehension skills, as well as ongoing fluency practice.
  • Advancing Readers (2nd–4th grade reading levels) build complex comprehension skills, fluency, vocabulary, and contextualize what they have justread in meaningful ways.

The amount of time spent in direct instruction is dependent upon each student. Some students acquire the new skill almost immediately so they move into the practice and application of the skill; other students may spend the remainder of the session in this lesson portion. If a student does not finish a lesson in a single session, they pick up where they left off in the following session.

After students learn their skill(s) for the day, they practice and apply it(them) alongside their tutor using the platform’s dynamic whiteboard features. During this time, tutoring session activities might include:

  • Explicit phonological and phonemic awareness instruction with games to reinforce skills (e.g., rhyming bingo)
  • Explicit phonics instruction with games for practice to reinforce skills (e.g., long vowel word sort)
  • Explicit sight word practice with games for practice to reinforce skills (e.g., sight word tic tac toe)
  • Explicit reading comprehension skills taught and practiced in isolation and grade level texts
  • Student read aloud with text aligned with literacy skill for the day

Supporting Structures

The Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model can be implemented by any school or youth-focused organization ready to help children develop reading skills, but it requires shifts in curriculum, adult roles, and partnerships. Tutoring powered by Reading Partners Overview Implementations Considerations

Schools implementing the model leverage Reading Partners’ comprehensive suite of curriculum and resources.

Tutors leverage Reading Partners’ easy-to-use, structured curriculum to help students gain the skills needed to be independent and successful readers. The curriculum consists of over 150 scripted lessons and is aligned to the science of reading, Common Core State Standards, other state standards, and best practices in reading instruction to promote student mastery.

The Reading Partners library of books is intentionally curated for students to connect with characters who look like them and who share experiences with them and to learn about others and better understand experiences beyond their own. Reading Partners’ guiding principles support a selection of inclusive books. Curriculum Book Selection Criteria

Using either the school’s existing literacy assessment tools or Reading Partners’ proprietary assessments, Reading Partners assesses student reading skills three times during the year and formally surveys teachers twice yearly to track each student’s progress and ensure high-quality programming. This process establishes benchmark reading levels at the time of enrollment, modifies instructional reading plans throughout the year, and reports gains at the end of the school year.

Schools must identify and recruit literacy tutors, often community volunteers.

In the Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model, partners are responsible for the recruitment and training of tutors. Reading Partners trains staff to deliver the two hours of training that tutors will need to effectively support students. Schools maintain access to these training materials to allow for sustainable and ongoing onboarding. 

Reading Partners believes that anyone above the age of 14, regardless of skill level, can be a high-quality literacy tutor. Tutors are often community volunteers and can include parents, high school or college students, as well as school support staff. Support in the recruitment process is available, if desired.

Beyond the tutors, schools need to identify at least one staff member to:

  • Oversee tutoring implementation, including supporting students and tutors throughout the sessions
  • Onboard, coach, and background check new tutors
  • Manage student data and oversee progress toward goals
  • Communicate with families
  • Liaise with Reading Partners

Schools must allocate time for students to participate in literacy tutoring sessions.

For students to maximize their opportunities using the Tutoring powered by Reading Partners program and curriculum, regularly scheduled tutoring is best. For many schools, this is a total of 90 minutes of tutoring per child per week. Schools have the flexibility to choose tutoring session length (e.g., three weekly 30-minute sessions or two weekly 45-minute sessions), and can choose when tutoring takes place (e.g., before, during, or after school). While tutoring can take place at any time, Reading Partners recommends that it occur during the school day intervention blocks or in structured after-school programming blocks.

Schools recruit and train volunteers from the community to serve as Reading Partners tutors. 

The Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model hinges upon the successful recruitment of volunteers, which often include family members, retired or future teachers, work-study program participants, college and high school students, and other community members. 

For non-school organizations, Reading Partners works in partnership with out-of-school-time programs and community centers to provide the literacy resources and services that advance student learning.

Tutoring sessions must occur in a quiet space where students can focus. 

While there are no physical space requirements for literacy tutoring sessions, partners should ensure that tutoring can occur in an environment conducive to focus and learning. For example, tutoring can occur in a separate room without noise or distractions or in the back of a classroom with headphones.

Schools must provide laptops and headphones for tutoring sessions on the Reading Partners Connects online platform. 

Tutors use the Reading Partners Connects platform to access lesson plans, student profiles, video conferencing tools, and a library of decodable texts. Reading Partners Connects Platform Overview

While tutoring can occur either virtually or in person, students need access to a laptop, as well as headphones with a microphone. This allows students to access the tutoring platform and curriculum online and to communicate with their tutor. For in-person sessions, tutors and students both still use the online curriculum, though headphones may not be necessary.

Access to the Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model has an ongoing cost for organizations. 

Reading Partners charges $300 per student per year. This includes access to Reading Partners’ comprehensive curriculum, assessment tools and support, access to its digital platform, and ongoing training and development for tutors. Discounts are available for programs serving more than 250 students.

Schools implementing the model leverage Reading Partners’ comprehensive suite of curriculum and resources.

Tutors leverage Reading Partners’ easy-to-use, structured curriculum to help students gain the skills needed to be independent and successful readers. The curriculum consists of over 150 scripted lessons and is aligned to the science of reading, Common Core State Standards, other state standards, and best practices in reading instruction to promote student mastery.

The Reading Partners library of books is intentionally curated for students to connect with characters who look like them and who share experiences with them and to learn about others and better understand experiences beyond their own. Reading Partners’ guiding principles support a selection of inclusive books. Curriculum Book Selection Criteria

Using either the school’s existing literacy assessment tools or Reading Partners’ proprietary assessments, Reading Partners assesses student reading skills three times during the year and formally surveys teachers twice yearly to track each student’s progress and ensure high-quality programming. This process establishes benchmark reading levels at the time of enrollment, modifies instructional reading plans throughout the year, and reports gains at the end of the school year.

Schools must identify and recruit literacy tutors, often community volunteers.

In the Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model, partners are responsible for the recruitment and training of tutors. Reading Partners trains staff to deliver the two hours of training that tutors will need to effectively support students. Schools maintain access to these training materials to allow for sustainable and ongoing onboarding. 

Reading Partners believes that anyone above the age of 14, regardless of skill level, can be a high-quality literacy tutor. Tutors are often community volunteers and can include parents, high school or college students, as well as school support staff. Support in the recruitment process is available, if desired.

Beyond the tutors, schools need to identify at least one staff member to:

  • Oversee tutoring implementation, including supporting students and tutors throughout the sessions
  • Onboard, coach, and background check new tutors
  • Manage student data and oversee progress toward goals
  • Communicate with families
  • Liaise with Reading Partners

Schools must allocate time for students to participate in literacy tutoring sessions.

For students to maximize their opportunities using the Tutoring powered by Reading Partners program and curriculum, regularly scheduled tutoring is best. For many schools, this is a total of 90 minutes of tutoring per child per week. Schools have the flexibility to choose tutoring session length (e.g., three weekly 30-minute sessions or two weekly 45-minute sessions), and can choose when tutoring takes place (e.g., before, during, or after school). While tutoring can take place at any time, Reading Partners recommends that it occur during the school day intervention blocks or in structured after-school programming blocks.

Schools recruit and train volunteers from the community to serve as Reading Partners tutors. 

The Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model hinges upon the successful recruitment of volunteers, which often include family members, retired or future teachers, work-study program participants, college and high school students, and other community members. 

For non-school organizations, Reading Partners works in partnership with out-of-school-time programs and community centers to provide the literacy resources and services that advance student learning.

Tutoring sessions must occur in a quiet space where students can focus. 

While there are no physical space requirements for literacy tutoring sessions, partners should ensure that tutoring can occur in an environment conducive to focus and learning. For example, tutoring can occur in a separate room without noise or distractions or in the back of a classroom with headphones.

Schools must provide laptops and headphones for tutoring sessions on the Reading Partners Connects online platform. 

Tutors use the Reading Partners Connects platform to access lesson plans, student profiles, video conferencing tools, and a library of decodable texts. Reading Partners Connects Platform Overview

While tutoring can occur either virtually or in person, students need access to a laptop, as well as headphones with a microphone. This allows students to access the tutoring platform and curriculum online and to communicate with their tutor. For in-person sessions, tutors and students both still use the online curriculum, though headphones may not be necessary.

Access to the Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model has an ongoing cost for organizations. 

Reading Partners charges $300 per student per year. This includes access to Reading Partners’ comprehensive curriculum, assessment tools and support, access to its digital platform, and ongoing training and development for tutors. Discounts are available for programs serving more than 250 students.

Supports Offered

Reading Partners offers the following supports to help you implement its approach.

Tutoring powered by Reading Partners
Cost Associated

The Tutoring powered by Reading Partners model provides partners with engaging, high-quality education materials and extensive training to implement effective literacy tutoring with students. Partners receive access to a full suite of resources including:

  • Curriculum materials
  • Training for staff
  • Access to the Reading Partners Connects online tutoring system
  • Consistent individualized coaching
  • Optional student assessments for progress tracking
Family Engagement powered by Reading Partners
Cost Associated

Family Engagement powered by Reading Partners provides partners with a suite of family literacy resources and a training series on how to implement these resources. Family Engagement powered by Reading Partners  This may be in addition to Tutoring powered by Reading Partners, or independent of other Reading Partners programming. Family Literacy Resources include:

  • Family Literacy Workshops with topics such as Cultivating a Reading Environment, Developing a Love for Books, and Developing Word Consciousness
  • Family Literacy Packets, available in both English and Spanish, with instructions for several literacy activities and a suggested eight-week schedule for families to practice together
  • One-page Literacy Tip Handouts with topics such as creating an at-home library and questions to ask while reading with children
COVER to COVER
Cost Associated

COVER to COVER is a book series grounded in both the science of reading and Reading Partners’ curricula. The stories include representative characters and themes so all students can see themselves reflected in the books they read while also having the opportunity to learn about the world around them through other people’s backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences. COVER to COVER books are currently available in e-book format only, though the goal is to make hard copy books available in the near future.

Co-design Consultation and Partnership
Cost Associated

Reading Partners can work with schools and other interested organizations to design a customized program that meets the partner’s literacy needs and goals. Examples of these partnerships include:

  • Ordering books and family engagement resources without any literacy tutoring
  • Daily tutoring sessions (rather than 90 minutes/week)

Reach

During the 2022-2023 school year…

169,604
Tutoring Sessions
6,878
Students
91%
Students of Color
7,405
Community Tutors

Impact

Reading Partners has worked with several evaluation organizations to help them better understand the results of its structured literacy tutoring programs, which include both direct model implementation and Tutoring powered by Reading Partners.

The Reading Partners tutoring programs promote literacy skill gains among elementary-aged students. Reading Partners Evidence Base

  • In a randomized controlled trial from 2011 to 2015, Reading Partners demonstrated a positive and statistically significant impact on student reading comprehension, fluency, and sight-word reading. MDRC Impact Study
  • A separate quasi-experimental study found that Reading Partners’ students had statistically significantly higher spring assessment scores than comparison students. APA Consulting Impact Study

The Reading Partners model also encourages the social-emotional development of students.

In a small scale study, 83% of students improved their social-emotional learning skills by the end of the school year. Child Trends Student Social Emotional Learning Outcomes

  • Students demonstrated statistically significant improvements in reading engagement, social competence, persistence, and self-control during the program.
  • Positive and warm student–tutor relationships were favorably associated with students’ growth in school engagement and persistence.

Schools and communities report positive outcomes in their partnerships with Reading Partners.

Among 2022–2023 end-of-year survey respondents:

  • 93% of principals report improved school-wide progress.
  • 100% of teachers report Reading Partners is valuable to their school.
  • 85% of volunteers are satisfied with their volunteer experiences.

Contact

Jennifer Joyce
Vice President of National Programs