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September 18, 2023

Reading Partners comes off strong year hoping to recruit more volunteer tutors

Originally posted on Tulsa World

After providing more than 24,500 tutoring sessions last school year for student readers, a Tulsa-area nonprofit literacy program hopes to build on the number this year by recruiting more volunteer tutors.

Reading Partners Tulsa officials say they have set a goal for this year of 1,250 community volunteers.

Last year, 967 volunteer tutors participated across 24 elementary schools, investing one hour a week reading one-on-one with a student.

The numbers are part of Reading Partners’ recently released report for the 2022-23 school year. Other highlights for the year include:

734 students received 12 or more sessions of one-on-one tutoring.

83% of all Reading Partners students finished the year meeting or exceeding their primary end-of-year literacy growth goals.

18,605 books were distributed to students through Reading Partners’ “Take Reading With You” program.

Reading Partners Tulsa Executive Director Olivia Martin said the program targets students in the early grades because that’s where it makes the most difference.

“Students who reach grade-level reading proficiency prior to entering fourth grade are statistically much more likely to achieve academic success, attend and persist in college, and graduate with strong career prospects,” Martin said.

The volunteers who serve as tutors range from retirees and local high school and college students to corporate, civic and nonprofit employees.

Rosemary Harris, who’s been tutoring for five years, encourages anyone who might be interested in volunteering to give it a shot.

“Everyone should join us,” said Harris, now a member of the program’s advisory board. “Spending time with students is life-changing for my students and for me. Reading is the foundation for all learning, and only an hour a week can make a real impact.”

One reason the work of Reading Partners is more critical now: Oklahoma’s state superintendent has been critical regarding Tulsa Public Schools’ reading proficiency rates. The district has agreed to present a plan to the State Board of Education for “training educators on the science of reading.”

Reading Partners includes an online tutoring platform called Reading Partners Connects.

Largely developed to help support students during the pandemic, it is continuing to be developed and improved.

About 11% of last year’s sessions were delivered online, officials said.

“Reading is a civil right and a civic responsibility, and Reading Partners Tulsa will never tire of partnering with our community to support a bright future for every student,” Martin said.

The organization, she added, “is committed to championing universal reading proficiency for every student in our community before fourth grade.”

Reading Partners is a national effort focusing on 12 regions across the country.

Over the past 25 years, it has mobilized more than 80,000 volunteers to provide more than 2.7 million individualized literacy tutoring sessions to more than 75,000 elementary school students in more than 500 under-resourced schools.

To read the Reading Partners report, find out how to volunteer and get more information, go to readingpartners.org.

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