Book Buddies in the Bronx: A Model for America Reads

CIERA Report #3-008

Joanne D. Meier
Marcia Invernizzi
University of Virginia

CIERA Inquiry 3: Policy and Profession
What is the impact of implementing federal, state, or local program initiatives in high-poverty schools? How effective is a volunteer tutoring program when its capacity is extended to new sites and new grade levels?

Nationally, thousands of volunteers work with struggling readers in our public schools. For volunteers to make a lasting impact, it is essential that tutoring programs be founded on solid research. The purpose of this study was to implement and evaluate the Book Buddies model using National Service volunteers as tutors for high-risk first-grade students in a high-poverty urban setting. Using a design with a randomly assigned control group, results show that tutoring sessions produced clear effects. Children who received 40 Book Buddies lessons significantly surpassed students in the control group on measures of letter identification, word reading in isolation, and accurate reading in context. These results contribute to our understanding of the constraints and conditions of implementing effective volunteer tutoring in challenging circumstances.

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