Providing students with tutoring in addition to in-class learning time is an oft-prescribed remedy for both catching up students who are behind and accelerating students who are capable of even higher performance. Two common sticking points to providing that remedy are finding additional time in the day, week, or year for the intervention and finding enough qualified personnel. A new study from the National Student Support Accelerator (NSSA) evaluates a promising program that could reduce both of these sticking points to manageable levels.
Chapter One is a nonprofit group (formerly known as Innovations for Learning) founded thirty years ago to help leverage emerging technology and volunteers in an effort to boost the reading skills of children in Chicago. Today, its reach is international, but it remains dedicated to helping students in grades K–2 become fluent readers. During the 2021–22 school year, Chapter One partnered with a large, unnamed school district in Florida to conduct a randomized controlled trial of its tutoring program. Fifty-six percent of students’ families in the district qualify for free and reduced priced lunch, and 12.6 percent of students are English learners. The district chose forty-nine kindergarten classes across thirteen schools to participate. While the report covers only the first year of results, students who remained in the district were expected to receive Chapter One tutoring during first grade (2022–23), as well, and those results will be published later. Researchers plan to follow all participants who remain in the district through the end of third grade.
The first year of the study consisted of 818 kindergarten students, roughly half of whom were randomly assigned to receive Chapter One tutoring. The two groups were similar in terms of demographics, although the treatment group did have slightly lower initial scores on the Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener (FLKRS). This was controlled for in the final analysis.