@EEPAjournal published long-term RCT findings for Future Forward — a program providing two years of literacy tutoring starting in K-2 in low-income Milwaukee schools. Quick take: High-quality RCT finds sustained, modest gain (1/3 grade level) on district reading test thru 7 year follow-up.

Program:

  • Future Forward provides 30 minutes of one-on-one tutoring 3X/week for two years, starting in K-2, by trained paraprofessionals or volunteers. The program serves students of all abilities (not just struggling readers), & also engages families to support child reading. The program cost is approximately $2700/child.

Study Design:

  • The study sample comprised 576 K-2 students, 95% low-income, 92% Black or Hispanic. Based on careful review, the study was mostly well-conducted (e.g., good baseline balance, valid analyses). Sample attrition was 46% in year 7, but nearly identical in treatment vs control so I think not a big issue.

Findings:

  • The study found a sustained impact on district test scores in reading in years 3-7 after study entry (effect size ~0.15 each year, equating to 1/3 of a grade level in year 7). These effects were statistically significant in years 3-5 but not 6-7 — so are highly promising but not definitive.

  • The study also found a statistically significant reduction in special education placements at the 7 year follow-up (9% treatment vs 15% control). The study found no discernible impact on student attendance.

Comment:

  • This is an important study - very few high-quality RCTs of tutoring have had long-term follow-up to see if effects endure or (as too often occurs in education) fade. Overall, I think the results are encouraging. Here's the study.

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