Schools of Hope uses an effective one-on-one or one-on-two model. Tutors work in concert with the teacher’s curriculum.
Schools of Hope uses an effective one-on-one or one-on-two model. Tutors work in concert with the teacher’s curriculum.

An evaluation shows significant success increasing literacy levels in elementary students.

United Way of Dane County and Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) announced new data that shows the Schools of Hope program is successful in closing reading gaps in the elementary grades.

“We’re pleased to see findings from the external evaluation show significant  gains in student literacy,” Jane Belmore, Interim Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District said. “Effective partnerships that get results for our students are key in closing gaps. I want to thank United Way, their volunteers and our teachers who work with our students every day and are having a positive impact.”

Students who participated in the Schools of Hope one-on-one or one-on-two tutoring model showed consistently greater growth rates in their text reading levels, a foundational assessment used widely to understand how children are doing in their literacy progress, compared to their peers.

“An increase in text reading levels is a significant indicator of success. These are assessed at the beginning and end of the school year, to see such immediate improvement is a sign that we’re closing an important foundational gap,” says Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO, United Way of Dane County. “The credit goes to volunteers, teachers, the schools districts and nonprofit partners who are a part of this work and the donors who provide financial support. Our community’s children are succeeding because of you.”

Over the past sixteen years, United Way has invested over $10 million in specific research-backed strategies to close the achievement gap and has deployed over 14,000 trained volunteers who have tutored 57,000 community students as part of the program. Tutors work in concert with the teacher’s curriculum. Centro Hispano, at the elementary level, and Urban League of Greater Madison, at the secondary level, are key partners in implementing this program.4th Grade Text Reading Levels Chart

“United Way is a critical partner in our work of closing the achievement gap,” Belmore said. “They have the ability to mobilize people and partners across sectors and disciplines to make change happen. They are the natural fit for this partnership.”

The evaluation also provided suggestions for enhancing the success and reach of the program, many of which are currently being addressed by Schools of Hope, such as reconsidering the length and frequency of tutoring sessions, expanding training for literacy tutors and taking a closer look at the nature of tutoring at the Kindergarten level. “We’ve been evaluating Schools of Hope’s success from day one. This most recent evaluation gives us an opportunity to continue to improve the results of our tutoring model to benefit each and every student,” says Howard. “Assessing programs that work, responding to the community’s needs and feedback, and finding the best ways to address critical community issues will always be our core work in the community.”