While students are gearing up for winter break, I’m looking ahead to the remainder of the school year. As a Reading Corps tutor at Burroughs Community School, I’ve been amazed by the significant strides so many students are making in reading. I’ve seen children transform from shy, struggling students into confident learners. But many more need support. In fact, one in three Minnesota third-graders is not reading at grade level.
I’m one of more than a thousand Minnesota Reading Corps tutors serving in schools and early learning centers as part of this AmeriCorps service program. I love working with Burroughs children, and I am hoping that my experience will inspire others to join me in this life-changing opportunity.
I am a fifth-year Reading Corps’ tutor entering my fourth year at Burroughs Community School. During these years of tutoring kindergarten through third grade, I have been honored to have been present when a first-grader reads his or her first words unprompted. It’s like watching a baby take its first independent steps. A magic and thrilling moment.
I’m proud to be part of an organization that has created phonetically based methods that strengthen student literacy. Last school year, Burroughs school took part in an evaluation study of Reading Corps students by the non-partisan research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. NORC found that the tutored students at each grade level were significantly ahead of the control groups based on skill development and grade-level achievement.
According to a Reading Corps report of the NORC study, “the additional growth demonstrated by students being tutored equates to an extra 50 to 90 percent of a year of schooling — or the equivalent of a half year to almost a full year of extra school.”
Reading Corps tutors use data-driven, one-on-one and small group instruction to get kids on track to read proficiently by third grade. Tutors work with kids daily in more than 700 elementary schools and preschools across the state, including in Southwest Minneapolis. As a result of this individualized attention and encouragement, most students read at their grade level within one year.
Tutors receive extensive training and support from on-site staff. We earn a living allowance and a financial award for education or student loans, plus health care and child care assistance benefits and opportunities to network and grow professionally.
I encourage anyone who is interested in tutoring to visit the Minnesota Reading Corps website (minnesotareadingcorps.org) to find out more about the benefits and the independent research that shows the difference Reading Corps makes. You will also see inspiring testimonies from tutors, teachers and parents. I challenge you to discover if Reading Corps is right for you.
Carole K. McCormack
Minnesota Reading Corps tutor, Burroughs Community School