About Reading Partners
How does Reading Partners select students for your program?
Our program team and site coordinators work closely with teachers and principals to identify high needs students. To be enrolled in Reading Partners, students must meet the following criteria:
- Kindergarten through fourth-grade student,
- One month to 2.5 years behind grade level in reading, and
- Attend one of our partner schools.
Why do you only work in low-income schools?
We believe that reading unlocks opportunity and that every child deserves the opportunity to learn this fundamental skill. Research shows that children growing up in poverty face immense educational barriers and enter elementary school already further behind their more affluent peers.
How can I bring Reading Partners to my school?
You can start the conversation by reaching out to your school’s principal or by filling out our online form. To qualify for our direct service, a majority of the students enrolled at the school must qualify for free/reduced lunch.
Who administers the testing for these students?
Reading tests are administered by Reading Partners site coordinators.
How long are students generally in the program?
As soon as students are matched with a tutor they are enrolled in the program. Students are enrolled for two tutoring sessions each week, and on average, students complete 30 Reading Partners sessions within the school year. We evaluate and track student progress on an annual basis. Students are re-evaluated each year to ensure high needs students are prioritized for our program.
How can I get my child enrolled in Reading Partners?
Our students are referred by their teachers and principals. If your child is a student at one of our school sites, speak with their teacher about the possibility of getting them referred to our program.
About our volunteers
Who volunteers as a Reading Partners tutor?
Our volunteer tutors have varied experience, ranging from high school students to stay-at-home parents to retirees. The only requirements are they must be at least 14 years old and able to commit to at least an hour a week to work with their student.
What experience is required?
No prior teaching experience is required. We only require that our volunteers be at least 14 years old and commit to at least an hour a week for a full semester.
I am not a native English speaker. Can I still volunteer?
Yes! However, we do require that you be fluent in English in order to best serve our students.
What if I can’t make it to a session one week?
Consistency is important with your student, but we understand that everyone has busy schedules. Let your site coordinator know ahead of time so that we can inform the student and try to schedule a make-up session.
How long does it take to get paired with a student?
Our goal is to match you with a student as quickly as possible. However, your start date for tutoring can take several days to several weeks, depending on a variety of scheduling factors. Tutors who are willing to commit to two sessions a week can often be placed more quickly.
Do I have any choice in the age or gender of student I work with?
We enroll students based on school priority and schedule, but definitely want to match you to a student that you feel comfortable tutoring. Let your site coordinator know at your orientation session if you have a preference for working with male or female students or younger or older grades. Your site coordinator is always available to answer questions and work with you to make sure that you are paired well and feel confident as a volunteer.
What kind of training will I receive?
Orientation – All new volunteers will attend a tutor orientation to learn more about Reading Partners’ mission, model, and tutoring strategies. The orientation usually last one to one-and-a-half hours, and will prepare you to deliver the Reading Partners curriculum prior to your first session with your student.
Ongoing training – Each reading center is equipped with a site coordinator. Once you are paired with your student, your site coordinator will support and coach you throughout the school year. Never hesitate to ask questions!
Reading Partners also provides ongoing training events on a variety of relevant subjects and strategies. These are one-hour long trainings that engage reading partners from across the region to learn new strategies and share their tips and experiences. Volunteer reading partners can also access training videos and resources available on the online Volunteer Hub.
What is the minimum time requirement to be a volunteer reading partner?
We ask that volunteers commit to at least an hour per week.
I’ve already gotten a background check done in the past. Will I need to get another one?
Unfortunately, organizations are prohibited by law from sharing background results with one another. We are happy to reimburse for the cost of your background check.
It’s already the middle of the semester – can I still volunteer?
Reading Partners enrolls students on a rolling basis. You can get started anytime during the school year. You do not need to wait until the beginning of the next semester.
About our curriculum
How does it align with classroom learning? Does it align with Common Core?
Our curriculum is aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which have been adopted by most states in which Reading Partners operates. Aligning with CCSS ensures that our volunteer reading partners provide instruction that supports students’ work in their classrooms.
What kind of review process does your curriculum undergo?
Our curriculum advisory committee of reading and literacy experts use evidence-based practices to guide regular revisions to our curriculum and instructional materials. The committee is led by Dean Elson, chief knowledge officer at Reading Partners.
How do you know it works?
Through continuous evaluation, we are able to make important decisions that will improve outcomes for students in our program.
- We assess student reading skills and collect teacher feedback three times throughout the year to track each student’s progress and ensure high-quality programming.
- We partnered with MDRC, a nonprofit education and social policy research firm, to design and carry out an independent, randomized control trial (RCT) of our program. Research found that our program was implemented with a high degree of fidelity and had positive and statistically significant impacts on all three study measures: sight word reading, fluency, and reading comprehension.