Despite our nation’s efforts to build reading skills, the need for effective early reading intervention persists. More than 6 million students are at risk of academic failure and other life challenges because they’re not reading at grade level by the end of third grade. Almost 70 percent of our nation’s children reach 4th grade unable to read at a proficient level. The shortfall in reading proficiency is especially pronounced among low-income children.
Experience Corps strives to help students who are lagging behind in reading not only improve their reading and literacy skills but to accelerate this improvement at a rate which indicates they are “catching up” to their on grade level peers.
Over the course of a school year, the standard for reading “on grade-level” increases for students as knowledge is acquired over the course of the school year. Students who have fallen behind what is considered “grade-level” reading can improve during the year and still be rated as “below grade-level” by their teachers at the end of the year because their improvements have not kept pace with the higher end-of-year standard. Because these students are starting the year behind, they need to not only improve but improve at a faster rate than the on-level students in order to “catch up”.
The chart below illustrates this concept and what Experience Corps strives to achieve. “On grade-level” is illustrated by the red line which shows steady growth over time in reading level. The blue line indicates a student who is below level, improving slightly as time passes, but still falling further behind “on grade-level” as indicted by the widening gap between the red and blue line. The green line is what EC aspires to do—assist students who have fallen behind to accelerate their reading improvement so that they begin catching-up to their on grade-level peers and are on grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
According to the 2014-2015 ECBA evaluations, 73% of students who received sustained tutoring accelerated their learning such that they are reading at grade-level by the end of the year!