About Reading Partners
How does Reading Partners select students for the 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,
- Six months to 2.5 years behind grade level in reading, and
- Attend one of our partner schools.
Why does Reading Partners only work in Title I schools?
We believe that reading unlocks opportunity and that every child deserves the opportunity to learn this fundamental skill. Research shows that children experiencing poverty face immense educational barriers and enter elementary school already further behind their peers who are not experiencing poverty.
Learn more about Title I schools and federal funding here.
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 and reduce priced lunch.
Who administers testing for students?
Reading tests are administered by Reading Partners 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.
Who can volunteer 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:
- Volunteers must be at least 18 years old (some opportunities may be available for high school students who are 14 years or older)
- Volunteers must pass a background check
- Volunteers must commit to at least one tutoring session at the same time each week
- Volunteers must reside in a proximal area to the Reading Partners region
What experience is required?
Our volunteers must be at least 18 years old (some opportunities may be available for high school students who are 14 years or older), and must attend required tutor orientations before working one-on-one with a student.
Can I sign up for both program delivery types (in person and online)?
If both programs are available in a region, volunteers are welcome to do both. This would mean working with two different students- one in-person and one virtually. Please note that we do require that a volunteer delivers 6+ sessions in their preferred program first before they add on the second program delivery type. Make sure to check in with your program coordinator to hear their suggestions around adding another program type, and be aware that additional training might be required.
What kind of training will I receive?
Orientation – All volunteers must complete required tutor orientation(s) to learn more about Reading Partners’ mission, model, and tutoring strategies. Each orientation usually last one to two hours depending on the delivery model, and will prepare you to deliver the Reading Partners curriculum prior to your first session with your student.
Ongoing training – AmeriCorps site coordinators will offer ongoing coaching and support in both in-person and online tutoring opportunities. 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 are the technology requirements for Reading Partners Connects?
Reading Partners Connects volunteers must meet the following technology requirements in order to tutor a student online.
- Access to reliable wifi
- Ability to connect to a password protected wifi, preferably a private home or school network
- Login via a PC, Mac, or Chromebook computer with a functioning webcam and microphone (no public devices!)
- Optional: headphones with a microphone
What is the minimum time commitment to be a volunteer reading partner?
We ask that volunteers commit to at least one session per week. In-person tutoring sessions last about 60 minutes and online sessions last about 90 minutes. In addition to scheduled tutoring, all new volunteers must complete required training before being matched with a student. Training for in-person tutoring usually lasts about two hours, while online tutoring includes an additional two-hour training.
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 and scheduling conflicts that arise. 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 student or grade level I work with?
We enroll students based on school priority and schedule. Let your site coordinator know before your first session if you have a preference for working with students in 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.
If you wish to work with the same student from a prior year, then let your site coordinator know before your first session so they can see what’s possible. However, we cannot promise to keep the same tutor/student pairs year-over-year based on referral status and scheduling conflicts.
What safety protocols are put in place to keep students and volunteers safe during COVID-19?
In cases where volunteers are not allowed on school campuses, volunteers may participate in the Reading Partners Connects online tutoring program. This opportunity operates with appropriate social distancing—in many cases from remote sites or from the comfort of your own home.
In cases where volunteers are permitted on school campuses, Reading Partners is enforcing strict safety protocols and expectations for reading center operations, including social distancing guidelines. In addition to what is listed in our safety protocols, volunteers are expected to follow all known safety and health protocols on school campuses as identified by school, district, and/or Reading Partners staff and communicated during the tutor orientation. Volunteers are also expected to follow Center of Disease Control (CDC) and state and local health agency guidelines.
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.
If I have been arrested or convicted of a crime, am I allowed to volunteer?
All decisions around eligibility are made on a case-by-case basis depending on the specifics of your situation and the law. Not all convictions will deem you ineligible to volunteer. If there is something on your record that we want to discuss, we will reach out to you before making any final decisions.
Will my background check result remain confidential?
If you complete Live Scan (CA) or Sterling Volunteers, we can promise confidentiality. Only one person at the Reading Partners headquarters will ever see your background check result details and those details are never shared. If there is something on your record that warranted more conversation, a regional staff member will be informed but they will never see your specific background check result.
For those who do a district check, please contact the district regarding questions or concerns.
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 deliver our curriculum to students in English.
Can I tutor if I’m undocumented?
We do not ask for volunteers to disclose this information. We need all volunteers to complete the required background check process based on school and district requirements and to protect the safety of our students. If volunteers are able to complete and pass the check, then you may start tutoring. Please note, we cannot confirm how this information may be stored internally at the DOJ for those who complete Live Scan or Sterling Volunteer background checks.
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. The curriculum also is aligned to other state standards. Aligning with CCSS and state learning standards ensures that our volunteer reading partners provide instruction that supports students’ work in their classrooms.
What kind of review process does your curriculum undergo?
Members of our program advisory who are reading and literacy experts use evidence-based practices to guide regular revisions to our curriculum and instructional materials. The committee is co-led by Dean Elson, chief knowledge officer, and Jennifer Joyce, director of national program.
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 have partnered with, third-party research firms to design and carry out rigorous evaluations of our program, including a large independent, randomized control trial (RCT). The RCT 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. More information about this study and other evaluations can be found on our Program Impact page.
In-person and virtual tutoring opportunities differ by region. Below you can see the major differences between these program delivery types:
Reading Partners Traditional (in person):
- Sign up at readingpartners.org/volunteer.
- Complete a tutor orientation.
- Complete a background check and any other clearance requirements (e.g. proof of vaccination).
- Get scheduled for tutoring at a day/time that works for you and one of our students.
- Meet your student! Tutoring takes place in-person at the student’s school site.
Reading Partners Connects (virtual)
- Sign up on readingpartners.org/volunteer.
- Complete a tutor orientation.
- Complete a background check.
- Pass a tech check.
- Get scheduled for tutoring for a day/time that works for you and one of our students.
- Meet your student! Tutoring takes place virtually using Zoom or Google Meet. Volunteers need access to reliable, password protected WiFi, PC, Mac, or Chromebook computer with a functioning webcam and microphone.
If you have other questions related to COVID-19, please feel free to contact us.
Is Reading Partners recruiting volunteer tutors this school year?
We are accepting volunteers to offer individualized literacy tutoring for elementary school students. Depending on the status of school safety measures on each campus, either online or in-person opportunities may be available. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the opportunities available and get started.
How is Reading Partners making decisions about the health and safety of staff members, AmeriCorps members, volunteers, and students as long as the public health crisis persists?
Reading Partners is operating out of an abundance of caution to keep our students, schools, volunteers, AmeriCorps members, and staff safe. We are continually monitoring the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines and will respond to any changes in current status and adapt to suggested modifications to behaviors or our operations during this time. Our regional teams are following all state and local government suggested actions to keep students, volunteers, and AmeriCorps members safe, and they are communicating regularly with our partner schools and school districts to stay apprised of any distance learning decisions or local health concerns.
Learn more about our safety protocols in schools.
Who should volunteers expect to hear from about the status of tutoring?
Local teams will continue to communicate safety procedures and updates to all volunteers, staff, and AmeriCorps members. As operational changes occur (reading center closures, reading center re-openings, etc.), our regional teams will keep volunteers informed.
How can volunteers continue to help students even if they are unable to tutor?
Volunteer reading partners are incredibly giving of their time, and develop strong bonds with the students they tutor. We also know how much our volunteers hope their students develop a lifelong love of reading. Ultimately, we will need resources so that both in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and when we are able to move forward without current constraints, we can provide our students with literacy support solutions that meet their needs, no matter the circumstances.
During this time, the best way to contribute to this effort is to make a donation that will help us continue rapidly creating and sharing resources. On our donate page you’ll be able to select your region, ensuring that your gift continues to reach the students in your area.
Is Reading Partners recruiting AmeriCorps members?
Yes! Reading Partners is actively recruiting, interviewing, and hiring to fill available AmeriCorps slots in Reading Partners regions for next school year. You can view all currently available positions on our Career Center, and reach out to email@example.com with any questions at any time.