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Minnesota Reading Corps Students Beat Statewide Test Results

by Lisa Winkler

Minnesota Reading Corps, an AmeriCorps program designed to help every child in the state become a successful reader by the end of third grade, announced positive growth in its results with numbers that surpassed those for students statewide.

Results from the Minnesota Reading Corps Statewide Evaluation for the 2010-11 academic year, the latest evaluation period available, showed an increase in third-grade reading proficiency from 69 percent to 80 percent. This surpassed the overall 78 percent pass rate for all Minnesota students.

An AmeriCorps member with Minnesota Reading Corps works with a young student. (Photo courtesy Minnesota Reading Corps)

“Our program results reinforce a strong return on investment for our state and prove we're making headway in our efforts to ensure all Minnesota children are on a path to achieve academic success,” said Audrey Suker, Chief Executive Officer of ServeMinnesota, the state's Commission on National and Community Service.

Reading Corps program participants were determined to be at significant risk for failure. The program is also having a substantial impact on the state's special education base. In a matched sample study, Reading Corps participants were less likely to be referred to special education.

This year's success will enable the program to grow by 40 percent next school year, with the intent to recruit more than 1,000 tutors for placement in preschools and elementary schools across the state.

“Our aggressive growth plans for both Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps for the 2012-13 academic school year will help thousands more students be proficient in reading and math,” said Zuker.

Gains Made in Math Scores

Minnesota Math Corps aims to help every student in the state become proficient in math by the end of eighth grade and plans to nearly double its size for 2012-13, recruiting and placing more than 125 tutors in elementary, middle, and junior high schools statewide.

AmeriCorps members with Minnesota Math Corps tutor a group of students in math skills. (Photo courtesy Minnesota Reading Corps)

“For Math Corps, we're also seeing positive results. For example, an urban school reported that 97 percent of its Math Corps participants increased an average of 13 points on their math assessments,” said Kathy Saltzman, Executive Director of Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps. The national average is just over four points.

Additionally, on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) achievement tests, given three times yearly, approximately 7-in-10 tutored students across all grade levels met or exceeded their expected growth target for the year.

Minnesota Reading Corps tutors work one on one or in small groups with preschool and elementary-age students to implement research-based early-literacy strategies to help catch kids up to grade level. Math Corps tutors work in pairs of students to implement research-based math practice strategies to help them catch up to their peers.

Reading Corps and Math Corps tutors commit to 11 months of AmeriCorps service, during which they earn a modest bi-weekly living allowance of $500 and an education award up to $5,550.

“By serving with Reading Corps or Math Corps, our tutors not only change the lives of children by helping them gain skills that will open doors for future success, they also significantly grow as people and professionals,” said Saltzman.

Lisa Winkler is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for ServeMinnesota.

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