Focus on Volunteer Reading Tutors.Report as inadecuate

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The America Reads Challenge, created in 1997, is a nationwide effort to expand the use of volunteers to help ensure that all children can read "well and independently by the end of third grade." State involvement in the America Reads Challenge has been primarily through the Federal Work Study (FWS) program for college students. The United States Department of Education will pay up to 100% of the FWS wages of eligible college students who serve as reading tutors to children in preschool and elementary school. Most states also have at least one community-based volunteer-tutoring program that operates under the guidelines of the America Reads Challenge. Unfortunately, relatively little reliable research has focused on determining what volunteer tutors can be expected to accomplish or on identifying the characteristics of effective programs. This report summarizes the findings from several research studies on volunteering conducted so far, specifically discussing the evaluations carried out by Barbara A. Wasik of Johns Hopkins University of 17 programs that used volunteer tutors to help students with reading problems. The report states that Wasik identified several key characteristics of successful volunteer-tutoring programs. It also notes that college students sometimes deviate from lesson plans developed in conjunction with their supervisors, and that this has positive and negative results. The paper concludes that, for many children, volunteer tutors can support the work of expert reading teachers, but tutors' limitations should be recognized clearly and their work should be designed and supervised carefully. (NKA)

Descriptors: College Students, Community Support, Elementary Education, Reading Instruction, Tutoring, Volunteers

Southern Regional Education Board, 592 10th St., N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318 ($2.50 handling fee). Tel: 404-875-9211; Web site:

Author: Denton, David R.


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