Skip to content
Summaries of RCT Grants

RCT of the Literacy First Tutoring Program for struggling readers in early elementary school

This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Literacy First (formerly ACE Tutoring), an intensive one-on-one tutoring program for struggling readers in early elementary school.

Grant Recipient: American Institutes for Research

Term: 2017 –2023

Principal Investigators: Sarah Caverly, Ph. D., American Institutes for Research

Ginger Stoker, Ph. D., American Institutes for Research

Funding: $354,557

Summary: This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Literacy First (formerly ACE Tutoring), an intensive one-on-one tutoring program for struggling readers in early elementary school. Literacy First has been evaluated in several quasi-experimental studies over the past three years and been found to produce sizable impacts on reading ability. More generally, findings from multiple RCTs have shown one-on-one tutoring to be a particularly promising approach to addressing early reading failure. However, the most intensive tutoring programs, which tend to produce the largest positive effects, are often expensive, costing as much as $6,000 per student. By contrast, Literacy First offers a potentially more scalable intensive tutoring approach – providing 30 minutes of daily individualized tutoring at a cost of just $600 per student – by making use of AmeriCorps volunteers as tutors, rather than more expensive options employed by other tutoring programs (e.g., certified teachers).

This RCT will evaluate Literacy First in a sample of 624 2nd graders across 26 elementary schools. The primary outcome measures will be reading scores on the well-validated SAT-10 standardized test at the end of 2ndgrade and the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) at the end of 3rd grade. The study’s measurement of outcomes over a two-year follow-up period will help address an important gap in the literature regarding the longer-term impact of one-on-one tutoring programs, since most studies of such programs have only followed students for one school year or less.

The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.

Grants

Arnold Ventures funds projects to understand problems and identify policy solutions.

Map of the U.S. made of Arnold Ventures icons