The Intervention: In this randomized control trial (RCT) study, we will evaluate the effects of a form of tutoring that incorporates many of the characteristics of programs that have been found to be effective – a consistent tutor, high quality materials, and instruction delivered over an extended time period – but has shorter than typical durations for each session (approximately five to seven minutes) and adjusts the number of sessions per week depending on students’ tutoring needs.
This 1:1 tutoring program focuses on reading development for kindergarten children. The 1:1 tutoring program (hereafter referred to as the tutoring program) ran during the 2021-2022 academic year in elementary schools serving primarily students from low-income families in a school district in Florida.
This tutoring program is guided by Lev Vygotsky’s Theory of the Zone of Proximal Development. Vygotsky’s theory rests on the belief that learning should be matched in some manner with the child’s developmental level. Thus, this tutoring program identifies a child’s reading stage (1 through 5) and conducts one-on-one sessions to provide the targeted assistance (scaffolding) that the child needs to advance as a reader. This tutoring program works with struggling readers to develop mastery of letter names, sounds, and phonics.
The tutoring program aims for all kindergarten children to reach the reading readiness stage of development (i.e., stage 4) by the end of their kindergarten year. Stage 4 entails a child to know words that are made up of CVC words, a consonant, vowel and consonant sound (i.e., cat, hot, tip, man and hut are all CVC words), and also for the child to be able to identify 30 words by sight. Stage 4 is equivalent to Fountas and Pinnell’s Reading Level C.
The study design is a randomized control trial that compares the reading proficiency of kindergarten students that received the tutoring support to kindergarten students that did not receive this support. The effectiveness study involves 818 students enrolled in 49 kindergarten classrooms identified by the school district who agreed to participate. Within each classroom, students were randomly assigned to the treatment group (N=420 students) or control group (N=398 students).
Research Question: This RCT study aims to address the following research question: What is the effect of the 1:1 tutoring program on students’ reading development? Specifically, did treated kindergarten students reach stage 4 reading development at the end of kindergarten?
Randomization: To assign kindergarten students to one of the experimental conditions, we will employ a student-level randomized control trial design. Specifically, within each kindergarten classroom (N=49), we randomly assigned half of the students to the treatment group (received the tutoring support) and half of the students to the control group (no tutoring support). The total randomization sample consist of 818 students enrolled in kindergarten classrooms: 420 students in the treated group and 398 students in the control group.