One-on-One Mentoring

The Reading Coaches Program is an intensive one-on-one tutoring program provided in school and after-school settings. It follows a structured curriculum, from the American Reading Company, focused on boosting kindergarten through third grade students’ literacy skills (e.g. vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension, etc.). Our volunteers meet with students twice-weekly to provide individualized, 30-40 minute sessions, which include:

  • A fun activity that introduces the book
  • A preview of difficult vocabulary words
  • A joint reading session with open-ended questions to guide conversation
  • Follow-up creative writing or drawing activities
In 2014, only 36% of BPS 3rd graders were proficient readers according to the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System.

Our Impact

A 2009 study by Washington University revealed that students in our program:

  • Make 60% more improvement in key literacy skills than their peers.
  • Benefits students who are farthest behind and/or are English Language Learners.

During the 2014 school year:

  • 91% of teachers reported that our volunteers' one-on-one support improved their students' literacy skills (e.g. comprehension, fluency).
  • 88% of teachers reported that our volunteers' one-on-one support improved their students’ class participation and motivation to learn.

Reading Coaches Session Activities

Introduce the book: The volunteer tutor and the young reader sit down together, and the tutor lets their reader know what the book is about and explains the five difficult words the student must look out for during the story. The young reader sounds out these words as a preview to the reading ahead and to build their vocabulary.

Read the book: The child and tutor sit side-by-side working through each page to ensure the child understands the story. The tutor asks questions about what is happening in the story and asks the reader what some of the difficult words mean, offering help with definitions when asked.

Talk about the book together: When the young reader finishes reading the book, the tutors talks with him/her about the book, using questions from the book folder’s (a folder created for each book to explain its content and help prepare for each session) 10 Conversation Starters. The tutor will ask comprehension, vocabulary, or analytical questions that the student must answer (volunteers offer help answering the question, when necessary).

Students [paired with a Reading Coach] made more improvement than control students on the passage comprehension measure and on the teacher rating of reading skills … Teachers consider the program to be very beneficial to students … Also, tutors perceive that their work with students leads to positive change not only in reading but self-confidence and behavior.
— Nancy Morrow-Howell, lead researcher of Washington University’s AARP Experience Corps research project