Volunteer tutors help poor readers

Older volunteers trained as Experience Corps tutors significantly improved the reading skills of children in the early grades, concludes a study by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis.

. . . struggling readers made 40 percent to 60 percent more progress in essential reading skills during the school year than did similar students who did not take part in the tutoring program.

Volunteers are 55 years old and up, which means I qualify as “older.”

About Joanne


  1. I see a lot of potential with this type of volunteer in the schools. Of course a very complete screening process must be followed before allowing them to work with students.

    So many students do not have the benefit of family…or extended family…this could benefit them socially as well as emotionally especially if that ‘connection’ takes place.

  2. Joanne,

    I’m glad to see this study, but I have reservations about it. As developed in greater detail on Teach Effectively, it’s predicated on gain scores and it doesn’t provide sufficient details about the experimental and control conditions to allow strong conclusions. Oh, and the effects actually are lower than .20, which is a rule of thumb for “small.”

    Given the press that the study is getting, I fear a run-away endorsement in the absence of careful vetting.

    Sigh…at least I qualify as “older,” too.

  3. I’m volunteering with Los Ayudantes in our local school districts.

    The deal is, it isn’t enough time (one period per week) to really make a difference for kids who are struggling.

    The experience is valuable for me, and I suspect that the kids I’m working with get something out of it….but really, it isn’t enough.