Oakland Study Finds Parents as Effective as Teachers in Tutoring Young Readers

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The program has made its greatest impact in kindergarten. From fall 2022 to spring 2023, tutored students gained nearly a full extra year of learning on the widely used iReady assessment, compared to those who did not receive tutoring, according to the report. But there was little to no difference in outcomes between tutored and non-tutored students in first and second grade.

Those results are not unique to Oakland. Another recent study on a virtual early literacy tutoring model called OnYourMark found minimal impact in second grade. The lack of growth could be due to a mismatch between tutoring and testing, said Susanna Loeb, a Stanford University professor who leads a nationwide tutoring research center and conducted the OnYourMark research.

If tutors are focusing on skills that an assessment doesn’t measure, “we won’t see learning gains, even if they have them,” she said.

Overall, however, she described Oakland’s tutoring effort as a “proof point” that shows how well-trained community members with credibility among families “can meaningfully improve student learning.”


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