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Talking Tutoring

Experts Marcia InvernizziCarole Prest, and Anne Hoover discuss tutoring programs, tutor training, what the latest research tells us, and the different forms tutoring can take.

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Program description

There is a lot to learn, but there’s only so much time in the day — and even less in the school day. It’s no wonder that kids sometimes need a little something more after the bell rings. There are a variety of tutoring programs out there to give kids the extra help they need — but how do you know which one to choose? In this webcast, three experts will discuss the hallmarks of a good tutoring program, characteristics of good tutor training, what the latest research tells us, and the different forms tutoring can take.


Marcia Invernizzi, Ph.D., is the Edmund H. Henderson Professor of Education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and director of UVA’s McGuffey Reading Center. She is also one of the creators of the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening tool (PALS) and the co-founder of the Book Buddies community tutoring program.

Carole Prest, M.B.A., is the Chief Strategy Officer for BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a nationally recognized provider of after school and summer tutoring for inner city children living in poverty. Prior to joining BELL, she served as Executive Director of Commonwealth Foundation, one of the top 10 private foundations in Washington D.C., serving youth living in low-income communities.

Anne Hoover, M.A., is the Director of Kingsbury’s Tutoring program. Anne has a post-graduate specialty in reading from Harvard University and a master’s degree in learning disabilities from DePaul University. Prior to joining Kingsbury, she was an adjunct professor at Boston College in the graduate school of education and she developed the curriculum for the learning disabilities programs in the suburbs of Chicago and Boston.

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Discussion questions

  1. How prepared are the kindergarteners in your school? Approximately what percentage start school without the foundational skills needed for success?
  2. What model of tutoring has your school adopted? What are the pros and cons of your model?
  3. Describe ways that you assess your children’s response to instruction.
  4. What qualities do you believe make a good tutor? What would you add to the list generated by the panelists?
  5. Describe one improvement your school could make in its training of tutors.
  6. What are the advantages of rigorous standards for tutors? What are the disadvantages?
  7. Brainstorm some ways that schools could improve volunteer commitment to literacy tutoring.


Talking Tutoring Part 1: Tutoring 101

Delia Pompa: Many kids struggle with reading. And sometimes a problem can’t be solved during the regular school day. How do you decide when a child needs tutoring? What options are available to help? Please join me for Tutoring 101, the first segment of the Reading Rockets webcast “Talking Tutoring.”

Narrator: Funding for the Reading Rockets Webcast series is provided by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Delia Pompa: Hello, I’m Delia Pompa. Welcome to the Reading Rockets webcast, “Talking Tutoring.” In this segment of our four part series, we’ll give a tutoring overview. Who needs help? And why? And what are their options?

Joining me are three experts. Dr. Marcia Invernizzi is a Professor of Education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School and Director of UVA’s McGuffy Reading Center. She is the co-creator of the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening tool (PALS), and a co-founder of the Book Buddies community tutoring program.

Carole Prest is the Chief Strategy Officer for Building Educated Leaders for Life or BELL. BELL is a nationally recognized provider of after-school and summer tutoring for inner city children living in poverty.

And Anne Hoover is a Director of the Kingsbury School’s Tutoring Division. Kingsbury is based in Washington, D.C., and focuses on the needs of children and adults with learning disabilities. Thank you all for joining us.

Let’s start by looking at the bigger picture. Marcia, what sort of statistics are we seeing when it comes to literacy? And how can tutoring affect these numbers?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, it depends on what figures you want to talk about. But, of course, the most widely acclaimed statistic that you hear from the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) is that about 37 percent of our fourth graders are not able to meet basic reading levels on the NAEP test. Which means they can’t get basic information out of grade-level appropriate material.

Another statistic that you might think of for the big picture is about 20 percent of our school enrollment has been designated “learning disabled.” And of them, the majority of them, about 80-90 percent, have reading disabilities.

But right here in Virginia, you might look at… where we practice universal literacy screening, you might look at what’s coming in the door in kindergarten. And it’s about 15.5 to 16 percent of our kindergarteners are starting school without the rudimentary literacy foundations for emergent literacy that will help them take off and run with literacy instruction easily.

Delia Pompa: Those are dramatic numbers. Anne, when we talk about tutoring, what do we mean? Is it homework help? What is it?

Anne Hoover: Well, certainly many parents do hire tutors to help their students with homework. However, as we’re thinking about reading in particular, but certainly other subject matter as well, tutoring often focuses on students’ remedial needs. Which means that the tutor really needs to go back to where the child is functioning comfortably and build up those basic skills. So that the child is functioning closer to grade level.

Sometimes homework can be part of that. But given the amount of time that’s usually allotted to tutoring — sometimes two or if they’re very lucky three sessions a week — the focus really for most children struggling with reading needs to be on the remedial aspect.

Delia Pompa: I see. Marcia, let me come back to you again. What are some of the tutoring models out there? And are they expensive? And are they all expensive?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, there are lots of different tutoring models. And by that, you might mean tutoring formats, whether it’s small group, how many are in the group, whether it’s one-on-one. There are also kind of pre-established tutoring plans in a box so to speak that are… that can be purchased.

There are… pretty much every basal reading company has their own intervention plan. Which usually consists of simply re-teaching material that students didn’t get the first time around. There are tutoring models that involve experts, reading specialists, and highly trained teachers delivering a very individualized tutoring lesson to struggling readers.

And there are also tutoring models that use volunteers or paraprofessionals who are closely trained and supervised in an ongoing way. Such as the Howard Street Tutoring model or Book Buddies. So there are lots of different tutoring models out there. And they differ not only in the size, but also in the expertise of the teacher.

Delia Pompa: What about location? Do they happen in-school and out-of-school? Or is there a predominance of one over the other?

Marcia Invernizzi: That varies a great deal as well. There are in-school tutoring models during the day, after-school tutoring models, even before-school tutoring models.

Delia Pompa: For children.

Marcia Invernizzi: Many tutoring models that are in collaboration with schools occur at the school site. But others may actually send their children to another building for tutoring. And, of course, a lot of tutoring goes on in homes across the nation.

Delia Pompa: Well, does cost have an effect? I mean, expensive versus free. Is one better than the other usually?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, of course, cost has a lot to do with what parents can choose or what schools choose to do in terms of their planning. Um, when you talk about one-on-one tutoring, of course, you’re talking about something that’s expensive. But it’s certainly a good investment in the future of our children.

But, you know, the cost can be mitigated by smart use of resources. So if you have a reading specialist or someone who is very knowledgeable about reading, rather than using that highly trained specialist to work one-on-one with individual students which would be very expensive indeed, that person can train other people and supervise their work that is planned by the expert.

And thus, reduce the cost substantially. And that’s what we’ve done in Book Buddies and in several other tutoring models that adopted that same type of format.

Delia Pompa: So how do parents find out what the tutoring options are in their area? Carole?

Carole Prest: Well, as Marcia said, it can be pretty overwhelming. There are so many different places you can go to, different price points. What I normally say is they should start with the parents talking to their classroom teacher.

Because that classroom teacher will probably understand the specific areas that child needs help. If they have specific kinds of learning disabilities like dyslexia, they may say go to Kingsbury. The other place to go to is: go to the principal. The principal will know all the resources that are available.

And, you know, for some parents — for example, if parents qualify for a reduced lunch - many schools are able to provide free tutoring, up to $2,000 worth of free tutoring to a parent at that income level if their school is eligible. So I would start with the classroom teacher. And then the principal. And they will help navigate the field.

Delia Pompa: And Marcia gave us some really dramatic numbers that had to do with literacy and how well our children read. How do literacy setbacks affect a child’s emotional level or well being? And how can tutoring help with that?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, children are smart. Whether they’ve been able to read along with their peers are not, they quickly sense when they are being successful in school. And, of course, if school becomes a place of anxiety and fear, then that’s going to affect their self-esteem and it’s going to affect their wanting to go to school, participate, raise their hand.

So it really does have a strong effect on their emotional development and wellbeing. Everybody wants to be successful.

Delia Pompa: Specifically though when you’re working with a child who’s had some emotional setbacks because of the literacy level, are you working on the literacy skills and the emotional skills also? Is it apparent that you’re doing one or the other? How do you do that?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, you try to do it very discretely. And one of the ways of doing it is using games or things that a child is interested in to help them see that they can be successful. None of us likes to be put in the position where we don’t know what we’re supposed to do or the answers.

So you start where a child is successful and build on those successes in order to help them.

Delia Pompa: How does a teacher know which kids should get tutoring? Marcia?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, through assessments. And through the progress that they’re making in response to their instruction. They’re the two primary ways. A good teacher will be using formative assessments to plan instruction. And will be individualizing and differentiating instruction as much as possible in the classroom to meet all of her children’s needs.

Children’s response to that instruction is a teacher’s best source of information about whether they’re going to need more. And if the instruction is in fact tailored to the child’s specific level and needs, and is comprehensive and meeting the entire array of literacy needs, and the child is still not making adequate progress, then the teacher should make arrangements to have additional instruction in the form of either small group or one-on-one tutoring.

Delia Pompa: Thanks. Carole, we know that the signs of reading difficulty can be spotted early on in elementary school. But is that too young to be considering tutoring?

Carole Prest: Absolutely not. There’s something called the achievement gap that has been very well documented by researchers. And what they find is that when a child comes to school as a kindergartener, if they’re from a low-income home, they might be a few months behind their peers.

But that gap expands year by year. Such that by the time a low-income child has reached fifth grade, they can be two or three years behind their peers. And so why wait until fifth grade to try to adjust that achievement gap?

The other thing that educators will often say is that from kindergarten through third grade, you learn to read. But from fourth grade on, you read to learn. And so we really need to give children at a very early age all of the capability that they can to be successful.

Delia Pompa: We’ve been focusing on the child. But there are three other key players, Anne. The parent, the teacher and the tutor. What’s the dynamic between those three? Or what should it be?

Anne Hoover: Well, it’s really a critical dynamic. Generally, the parent is the one who is asking for tutoring and wants tutoring. Some parents think that they shouldn’t let the tutor know… the teacher know that their child is having tutoring.

We certainly have had the experience of knowing that the teacher figures it out pretty readily that the child is getting help someplace else. And tutoring is much more effective if everyone is working on the same goal at the same time.

So we feel that that kind of communication is essential, that we want the parent, the tutor and the teacher talking on a regular basis and reaffirming that everyone is at the same place and the same time.

Delia Pompa: Okay. What questions should parents ask about their child’s tutoring sessions? Carole?

Carole Prest: Well, I would start with the basics. Because not all tutoring sessions are created equal. I would ask the qualifications of the people who are doing the tutoring. Are they certified teachers? I would ask about the class size. Is it one-on-one? Is it small-group? Is it a larger group session?

I’d want to know is there a curriculum that they follow? I’d like to know as a parent how often am I going to get progress reports? How will I know how my child is doing?

And finally, I’d ask the question of just how much tutoring is my child going to get? Is it one hour a week? Is it more than that? How many weeks? So I would ask the same questions you’d ask about any other service that you would… that you would purchase.

Delia Pompa: Thank you, everyone. This is a great beginning. We’re going to wrap up this segment now. But our discussion isn’t over. Please join us for part two of this webcast when we’ll be talking about what makes a strong tutoring program.

For more information about how you can help the struggling readers in your life and to watch this webcast, please visit us at And while you’re there, please let us know your thoughts. Click on webcast to find our online survey. Again, thank you for joining us.

Narrator: Funding for the Reading Rockets Webcast Series is provided by the United States Department of United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

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Talking Tutoring Part 2: Finding the right tutoring program

Delia Pompa: With so many options out there, how can you find the right tutoring program for your child? What should you look for? What questions should you ask? Please join me for Finding the Right Tutoring Program, part two of the Reading Rockets webcast “Talking Tutoring.”

Narrator: Funding for the Reading Rockets webcast series is provided by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Delia Pompa: Hello. I’m Delia Pompa. We Welcome to the Reading Rockets webcast, “Talking Tutoring.” In part one, we discussed the need for tutoring and the options available. Now we’ll talk about the characteristics of a strong tutoring program.

Thank you, Dr. Invernizzi, Ms. Prest, Ms. Hoover, for joining me. Carole, let’s start with you. What makes a good tutoring program? That’s a big question.

Carole Prest: It is a big question. I think it’s a variety of things. We talked a little bit earlier about the qualifications and the group size. But to me, it’s a lot more than that. It’s about finding a tutor that’s a good match for your child. And you have to find somebody who cares, who knows how to relate to your child. But also someone who’s skilled the particular area where you child is the weakest.

So I would make a point of checking into qualifications, but also finding that a really strong personality match for your child.

Delia Pompa: Great. Marcia, back to you. What makes a good tutor?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, certainly a good tutor must love to work with children. That’s for sure. I think a good tutor must also love to read and be a reader, him- or herself. Because the communication of that love for reading definitely comes through.

So I think a good tutor — it’s very basic, but I think so often overlooked — needs to love kids and love books.

Beyond that, a tutor needs to be very familiar with literacy development and how it is that children do learn to read and how all the components of the literacy diet, so to speak, interrelate. So [understanding of] how the synchrony of literacy development proceeds is of a piece and in accord with a child’s understanding of how the spelling of words or the orthography works to feed their reading fluency and reading comprehension and how all that relates to writing.

A tutor, a good tutor, really needs to have a solid understanding of these relationships. A good tutor needs to know about how to assess these things and how to plan instruction to meet the child’s individual needs. If the tutor him- or herself is not the expert in these things, then whoever is planning the lesson and overseeing the tutoring program certainly does.

I think also the tutor needs to be committed to literacy and committed to putting forth their all into this very intimate relationship.

Delia Pompa: Now we know the good side. Anne, what in your experience are some early warning signs of a poor tutoring program?

Anne Hoover: Well, certainly as Marcia said, the program itself has to be a sound program. And the goal has to be well-defined. Early on, a child works mainly on decoding, figuring out the phonics, learning phonics, sight words, fluency.

And then as they gain those strengths, you want to be focusing on vocabulary, comprehension, and skills that show that the child is beginning to automatize the basic decoding and begin to get meaning out of print. None of these things happen quickly, especially if a student is dyslexic, has a learning disability. It takes time.

But again, we look for signs that things are going well, signs of success that the child is making improvement even if it’s slow, as long as it’s slow and steady. If the child really hates to go to tutoring, then that’s a warning sign. We want to take a look.

Certainly it takes a few lessons for the rapport to build between a child and a tutor. But after a few lessons, if things are not going well, then it’s time to talk with the tutor and perhaps honestly assess whether that’s a good match. It is, as Marcia said, a very intimate relationship.

And it’s important that they like each other. Because they’re going to be working together in this relationship.

Delia Pompa: Should she be looking for a program specifically tailored to a child early on?

Anne Hoover: Oh, yes. Especially once a child has been assessed, you want this to be a program for your child, not one that is used in second grades someplace else or fourth grades somewhere else. It needs to focus on your individual child’s needs and strengths.

Delia Pompa: So Carole, when parents are researching tutoring options, what are some of the questions they should ask?

Carole Prest: I guess I would say that tutoring should not be just a repeat of what goes on during the school day. And so what I would look for is a program that has qualified teachers, certified teachers, college students, or tutors who might provide that role model.

But I look for a program that has academics, maybe has enrichment. It might include, you know, field trips or community service, something that makes it an engaging program that they’ll want to keep coming back to day after day.

The other thing I would say is find one… particularly we work at BELL with children in low-income communities… we would want one that’s culturally relevant. So that the books they’re reading are books that mean something to them.

So in our program, the students, even at a young age, will be reading books about Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks. If they’re English language learners, we have books that are in both Spanish and in English.

So finding materials that engage them. Because they have to learn the skills. But then when they practice those skills, we want them to be with books that bring additional meaning to their lives.

Delia Pompa: Should parents look for some sort of ideal student/teacher ratio?

Carole Prest: Well, I think the lower the better. I mean, I think one-on-one is ideal. However, some students also learn very well by having that peer interaction. So I would say that small groups are definitely better than large groups. I’d say no more than ten to one would be a guide that I would have.

Delia Pompa: You know, the phrase “differentiated instruction” we hear about all the time in the classroom. How does that concept apply to tutoring? I mean, is it about individualized instruction, Anne?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, certainly even in a small group of three, they won’t be three identical children. Each one will have their own sort of constellation of strengths and weaknesses. And, yes, a good tutor will have to individualize even within a small group. That’s absolutely important.

You know, even if their reading levels are the same, they’ll have slightly different needs in other components of reading. And they’ll certainly have different personality and approaches to the tasks. Different children have different attention spans for certain kinds of tasks. All these individual differences add up to the need for differentiating even within a small group of three.

Delia Pompa: Can you give me an example of a way a tutor might individualize within a small group when she’s tutoring, he or she is tutoring?

Marcia Invernizzi: Sure. Well, let’s say I’m working with a group of three students, all of whom are reading on a let’s say mid-first-grade level. So I know that I can at least plan the same level of text. However, I might know that Anne really likes to read about horses and is totally obsessed about horses. And doesn’t even want to persevere through anything unless it’s about horses.

And I might know that Carole really, really likes to read about Star Wars. And she isn’t going to persevere very long unless I have something about Star Wars. That’s one example.

Another example is even though the three students might be reading on approximately the same reading level, Carole may know all of her short vowels, but might be working on her constant blends in phonics instruction.

Whereas… I don’t know whether I said Anne or Carole in my example… the other student might not know all of the other… all of their short vowels. And so they need short vowel instruction. And so I’m going to have to differentiate that part of the lesson to meet their phonic needs.

Delia Pompa: Does individualizing instruction mean you have to work one-on-one? Or can small groups work? And does the research say anything about that?

Marcia Invernizzi: You can individualize in small groups. There has been research on group size. A study by Elbaum, Vaughn, and I forget the last two authors, but they did a meta-analysis. Which means they study all of the studies that have been done on tutoring sizes. And they compute effect sizes.

And basically what they found was that they did get significantly better effects for the smaller group sizes, particularly groups of three or smaller as opposed to groups of ten. That was their overall significant finding. They didn’t find consistent differences between groups of three and groups of one.

But they were only looking at very short-term tutoring. And among students who were taking off pretty quickly. One of the findings that a researcher by the name of Frank Vellutino has found repeatedly, though, is that students who don’t… you might start off with a group of three who are all pretty similar. But they’re not going to all progress at the same rate.

So as you work with a group of three over time, two of them may really take off. Whereas, one may not. So as over time the need for differentiation grows stronger…

Delia Pompa: So there’s a shift in the patterns.

Marcia Invernizzi: Exactly. And so it may be possible… it may be important, possible, and necessary to reconfigure that group and work one-on-one with a student even more.

Delia Pompa: Right. Carole, does that tailoring of lesson plans and what a tutor does with a child mean that there shouldn’t be a structure to the curriculum that’s used in a tutoring program?

Carole Prest: No, I think using a curriculum really helps you to guarantee that the lessons that the students will be going through is linked to the expectations of the school system or state standards. The other thing is you could easily imagine that a tutor could get so focused on one thing that they go too much in-depth and not enough in breadth.

So I find that by using a standardized curriculum, you can see that all of the items will be covered over the course of the tutoring program and still allow plenty of room for differentiation.

Delia Pompa: So it’s a pacing issue.

Carole Prest: It’s a pacing issue, yes. That’s a good point.

Delia Pompa: Speaking of pacing, how long and how frequent should tutoring sessions be? Marcia, go ahead.

Marcia Invernizzi: As long as they need to be. Sort of… how long is a piece of string? As long as you need it to be. Yeah. In the classic longitudinal study of Frank [Frank] Vellutino’s work again, he started out looking at kindergarteners, following them all the way through fourth grade. The students who were easily remediated took off very quickly, caught up to grade level expectations, and maintained those gains over time, and did so within one semester.

Students who made moderate growth needed more than one semester, perhaps a year or a year and a half. Students who had… who made very slow growth in response to excellent tutoring, one-on-one every day for thirty minutes, really required much longer.

The important thing of that study is that were these findings that led to the conclusion that a student’s response to high-quality intervention, in the form of one-on-one tutoring in this case, should be part of a diagnosis of whether a child has a learning disability.

Because if you don’t include the response to the intervention in trying to ferret out ‘do they have a learning disability or not?’ — you’ll never know what is just the lack of experience or appropriate instruction from what might be cognitive deficits.

And one way you can ferret that out is by providing high-quality tutoring and watching their progress over time. But for the children who are… who do make limited progress, they will need tutoring for a long time.

Delia Pompa: There’s a lot of detail a teacher has to look at when deciding who gets tutored and how long. So what role does assessment play, Anne?

Anne Hoover: Well, assessment is really critical. Everyone wants to know “is this working?” — the tutor, the teacher, and the parent. So a teacher, certainly, and tutor will be using authentic assessment all along the way, even once a week, once every two weeks, reporting on how the child is progressing towards the goal.

And then, of course, we have the more formal assessments that take place in school or when a child goes for a psychological assessment that measures that. And it’s important that the tutor talk with both the teacher and the parent and convey these assessments along the way. So that they will know how their child is proceeding.

Delia Pompa: I see. When you say how the child is proceeding, Marcia, you earlier talked also about how long a child might be in tutoring. How long should it take… how long does it take to see the results from tutoring?

Marcia Invernizzi: Again, assessment is the key. Keeping your finger on the pulse and constantly monitoring their progress in reading, and phonics, and in writing. Both from a decoding accuracy and fluency point of view as well as in comprehension and vocabulary growth, these things need to be constantly monitored.

Not only during the school year, but also for potential loss over the summer. And, of course, if you’re keeping a careful eye on a child’s progress in these areas, then you’ll know how long the tutoring has to be. Because they need it as long as they need it.

And for those few students who do have specific reading disabilities, this maybe throughout their entire schooling.

Delia Pompa: When should you worry if you don’t start to see results? How long should you wait?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, I think Carole said at the outgo… at the get-go, that we really shouldn’t wait. We should get going as soon as children walk in the door which typically is in kindergarten. Although, certainly there’s a lot of research going on right now in preschool.

But until that time that we have universal preschool, it’s kind of putting the cart before the horse. Certainly providing universal preschool would be a great way, preventative way. But once kids do walk in to kindergarten, we know we have assessments that are highly reliable predictors of who’s going to have difficulty learning to read and who isn’t.

Just plain old alphabet knowledge, for example, and basic awareness of speech sounds like rhyming and beginning sounds, to name two powerful ones. So as soon as we know who has difficulties or doesn’t have that kind of fundamental emergent literacy foundation, we should start working with them immediately.

Delia Pompa: Related to that, Carole, what should a tutor do if the child doesn’t seem to be progressing?

Carole Prest: Well, I think the simplest thing is to try it a different way. Different students will have different learning styles. And so if it’s not working one way, try it a different way. But beyond that, I would say that the tutor should spend some time talking to the classroom teacher. What’s working in the classroom? What isn’t working in the classroom?

Talk to the parent. And then I would say go for help from additional resources. So in our program, we put people through extensive training. There’s ongoing training that they can use to refine their skills. And we hire a lead teacher at every school that they can go to and ask them to observe the tutoring session, give them suggestions, if necessary model different behaviors.

Delia Pompa: But they’ve got support.

Carole Prest: Absolutely.

Delia Pompa: Thank you, everyone. We’ve covered a lot of elements important to a successful tutoring program. But we’ve left a key one for next time — tutor training. We alluded to that. Please join us for part three of this webcast when we’ll be discussing tutor training and specialized tutoring programs.

For more information about how you can help the struggling reader in your life and to watch the rest of this webcast, please visit us at And while you’re there, please let us know your thoughts about this program. Click on webcast to find our online survey. Thank you for joining us.

Narrator: Funding for the Reading Rockets Webcast series is provided by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Return to Beginning of Transcript

Talking Tutoring Part 3: Tutor training & specialized programs

Delia Pompa: Tutors are central to tutoring programs, obviously. So how should they be trained? What tutoring options are available for students in unique situations? Please join me for tutor training, specialized tutoring programs, part three of the Reading Rockets webcast, “Talking Tutoring.”

Narrator: Funding for the Reading Rockets Webcast series is provided by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Delia Pompa: Hello, I’m Delia Pompa. In the previous segment of “Talking Tutoring,” we discussed some of the important elements in a strong tutoring program. In this segment, our panelists will discuss one more piece of the puzzle, tutor training. We’ll also explore specialized tutoring options. Welcome, Dr. Invernizzi, Ms. Prest, and Ms. Hoover.

And I’m going to start with you, Marcia. We’ve talked about lots of different tutoring programs, how many are available, what they do. Can you talk about the minimum requirements for training and qualifications?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, that’s a complicated question. Because it kind of depends on your context and the scale. I know if when Carole has a chance to talk about her tutor training in BELL, it will be a lot different because of the scale.

I’ve been involved in three different tutoring models. So it’s a little complicated by my personal experience. In one situation, the McGuffy Reading Center, I’m dealing with graduate students. So their minimal requirements are getting into grad school.

But they have to have twelve hours of clinical practicum in our master’s degree to become a reading specialist. So that’s the… that’s one set of requirements. I’ve also been involved in volunteer reading tutorials, Book Buddies, and an adaptation of Book Buddies through the Experience Corps in New York.

And they each had different requirements. In the Experience Corps, of course, they had their own qualifications to be an experienced Corps member. But in addition to be a Book Buddy tutor in that particular program that I was researching in New York, they had to participate in an onsite training that lasted a week.

They had to take quizzes and tests and pass them. They had to provide a writing sample. So they had to demonstrate their own literacy. They had to be a high school graduate. And they had to be able to read and write well themselves.

In the Book Buddies program in Charlottesville, which is not through the Experience Corps, volunteers are recruited, trained by reading specialists who write the lesson plans, provide the materials and provide ongoing training throughout the year. They’re never left alone.

So they’re supervised by reading specialists six at a time. The minimal requirement for Book Buddies in Charlottesville would be, gosh, I would say a lack of a criminal record. Certainly they go through a screening process. Again, they do look for college graduates. But I can’t say for sure that all of them have been college graduates.

We have tutors from every walk of life in the Book Buddies program in Charlottesville, rock musicians, laundry cleaners, city council members.

Delia Pompa: An interesting mix.

Marcia Invernizzi: Attorneys, retired teachers. But they all have demonstrated love of reading and commitment to literacy. I do not believe as in New York did they… they don’t take a literacy test as they did in the Experience Corps.

But when you’re talking about a much larger scale as in the BELL model, you would have to be much more rigorous about your minimal requirements and screening. In Book Buddies, I think we simply screen for criminal records and talk to them about their love of reading and their experience with children. That’s another I would say minimal requirement is some experience with children.

Delia Pompa: Carole, you do have a large network of tutors. So do you think training should be continuous? Can a couple of intense days be the training teachers get or tutors get?

Carole Prest: No, we take training very, very seriously as Marcia mentioned. We’re providing tutors to work with over 12,000 children in five different states. And so training is an integral piece to how we run our program and guarantee results.

So in addition to a rigorous screening process to make sure we’re hiring the right people, they go though about fifteen to twenty hours of e-learning. It’s a web-based, interactive program. They have to pass every segment before they’re actually hired. And then after that, they go through additional classroom instruction.

Once they’re actually tutoring, we have a lead teacher and a site manager at every site who observes how they’re delivering the tutoring, models behavior if that’s appropriate. And then we do reviews of those tutors.

So how we train them, how we monitor them and then how we support them is critical to us in terms of delivering a quality program.

Delia Pompa: You described three different approaches and how much training the tutors got. But what sort of supervision and support should tutors get in any program?

Marcia Invernizzi: Oh, I was just going to say what Carole just said about the feedback. The modeling of the behaviors and the feedback is so important. Whether you’re talking about graduate students who are getting their master’s degree in reading education or whether you’re talking about volunteers or paid tutors through a program like BELL’s, the modeling, the ongoing supervision, the quality control and the feedback is absolutely essentially to any good tutoring program.

If I were a parent looking for a tutor for my own child, I would be very suspect of tutoring programs where tutors were left on their own without some kind of feedback, quality control, ongoing fidelity kind of mechanism in place. Because that is really, really critical.

Delia Pompa: And we’ve talked about a good fit between the child and the tutor. What does a good student/tutor relationship look like? And why is it important?

Anne Hoover: Well, it’s important because, as we all know, we learn better if it’s something that is meaningful to us and we want to learn. In a good student/tutor relationship, the child is usually anxious [in a good way] or at least neutral about going to tutoring. They don’t complain about it. Now, we all know that there are some children who kind of are chronic complainers.

Delia Pompa: They’re eager to get there.

Anne Hoover: Yes. But what we would like is a child to feel that they’re looking forward to their tutoring session because they are beginning to see success and the fact that they’re learning. And they have a special, I mean, not many children have the time to spend on a one-to-one or a two-or-three-to-one relationship with an adult for an hour twice a week or three times a week. If everything’s going right, it should be a positive experience.

Delia Pompa: Well, with all your experiences, can you give us a good example.

Anne Hoover: A time…

Delia Pompa: When there was a good fit, a good match.

Anne Hoover: When there was a good fit. Well, I could give you many examples. For the most part, that’s one of the things we almost take for granted in matching tutors with their students. We do do quality assurance by asking parents to give a rating to their tutoring, their tutor, each semester.

And by and large, that’s one of the things that we look for. The parent says how grateful they are and how much the child enjoys the tutoring and feels good about it.

Delia Pompa: So there are signs. They actually talked about…

Anne Hoover: They actually talk about it, absolutely. And years later, we have students who write back to say how much the tutor has changed their lives and enabled them to be successful in the academic world.

Delia Pompa: That is success.

Marcia Invernizzi: Very encouraging.

Delia Pompa: Yes.

Marcia Invernizzi: It is.

Delia Pompa: Carole, you’re currently involved in intensive interview process for your tutors. But you don’t just look at a person’s resume. What else do you look for?

Carole Prest: Well, more than anything else, we look about… look to their commitment and their passion for making a difference in the life of that child. So we go through a multi-stage screening process.

The first thing they have to do is provide a writing sample as Marcia was saying. If they’re going to be tutoring in literacy, we want to make sure that they can write a coherent sentence and that it is grammatically correct.

But beyond that, we look to see why are they doing this? Is this just a mechanism of gaining income? Or do they really want to make a difference in the life of that child? After that, they go through a phone screen. And then the third thing is they go through an in-person interview.

And then they have to complete the online e-learning system. So by the time they’ve gone through all of those stages, we’re pretty convinced that they’re here and they’re here for the right reason which is to change the life of that child.

Delia Pompa: The word commitment has come up a lot in these segments. Marcia, I know your Book Buddies program is staffed mainly by volunteers. How do you keep them returning year after year and dedicated and happy?

Marcia Invernizzi: We actually have volunteers who have been tutoring for almost fifteen years now. And that’s one of the things we’re most proud of in addition to the success that we’ve had with the children.

I think what keeps our volunteers coming back, at least in the Charlottesville Book Buddies program, is the success that they see visibly with their child. When they see their child learn to read and become a good reader and actually enjoy reading, they know what a difference they made in the life of that child. And they’re eager to repeat that experience.

I’ve had many volunteer tutors who have come to Book Buddies saying, you know, I’ve been involved in many other volunteer programs. But this is the first volunteer program I’ve ever participated in that’s been a planned experience where there’s a definite lesson plan that’s a framework, a structure. The materials are organized and prepared.

I have been trained and supported in delivering this lessons plan. And I get feedback at the end of every lesson plan. If I’m struggling with a part of the lesson plan, my Book Buddy coordinator, who is a reading specialist, steps in and demonstrates and models how to do that particular aspect.

They tell me their coordinator listens to them. So if they say this didn’t work, this part didn’t work, I struggled with that, the coordinator is right there the next time working that out. And either showing them how to do it properly or changing it, taking another tack.

So I think that that’s what makes them come back, the fact that they’re seeing their child learn to read. They’re seeing the success in their child. They bond to their child. They form relationships. And, um, they come to a planned situation that is structured and supported. So that they feel good about what they do. I think that’s the key.

Delia Pompa: At Kingsbury, the majority of kids you work with have learning disabilities. How does that impact the structure of the tutoring program?

Anne Hoover: Well, you’re right that many of the students that we see have learning disabilities. And it certainly affects the tutors that we choose. We train all of our tutors to work with students with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, the most common one. They must take two graduate level courses.

And so, it affects how they plan their lessons and how they communicate both to the student and the parent and the teacher if they’re involved, that this really is remedial work, that they need to start where they are. That they need to use a teaching method that takes advantage of their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

It focuses on their interests, if at all possible. And usually, it’s going to take a long time. We try to give them some hope by talking about famous people who have been successful in spite of the fact that they didn’t learn to read at seven years old. They may have been twelve, thirteen, fourteen. But with the proper help, they were successful.

Delia Pompa: Well, at the BELL program, you focus on inner city kids. Are there special considerations for working with these kids?

Carole Prest: I think part of it is to be sensitive and be culturally aware. As I mentioned before, we have selected books that specifically target our children because they’re sharing stories of hope, overcoming obstacles, community and democracy. So that’s part of it.

Part of it’s the training. Every one of our tutors goes through a culturally relevant segment of the training. You also have to be aware of the home situations they’re coming from. So when we enroll a child, we have the parents fill out a form to make sure we know how to reach a variety of people.

We also make sure that we understand who the child cannot go home with. So we are very focused on the child’s safety. And then we also want to make sure that whatever situation they find themselves born into, that that does not limit their possibilities to succeed in the world.

And so we want people who communicate that hope for that child and give them the academic skills. And also address the self-esteem issues to create a whole new life trajectory for them.

Delia Pompa: What about parents who find school intimidating? How do they react to the tutoring program? What do you do to bring them in and make them part of that?

Carole Prest: Well, one of the things we do is we try to make this a positive experience. Many of the parents that we’ve dealt with, the only time they get a call from school is when their child has acted up. And so before the program starts, every parent will get a phone call saying, hi. My name is Marcia. And I’m your tutor. And we’re really looking forward to having you in the program tomorrow.

And then every parent will get a phone call in that first week saying Anne did a phenomenal job today in read aloud. And you should be so proud of her. And when they start getting positive calls, then they want to become more part of the system.

Every parent gets a small word of encouragement and support every day that that child goes home. They get progress reports that focus on the positive. And we try to help them understand that they need to be involved in their child’s education for that child to succeed in school.

And we can make measurable improvements about how parents see themselves in terms of being engaged in their child’s education.

Delia Pompa: Great. English language learners, Marcia. How do tutoring programs help them, how do you adjust tutoring programs for them in order to serve them well and appropriately?

Marcia Invernizzi: That’s a really good question. And I’d say there are three parts to answering that question. Number one is to find out as much as you can about the native language and about their… any history of schooling, if any.

But so often, English language learners do quite well at the word level instruction in tutoring, but not as well with the text processing level of tutoring. Because background knowledge and vocabulary play such a big role in text level processing and comprehension.

And so these will need particular emphasis in working with English language learners. Because the language development component is so very, very important. Even English language learners who appear to have good social vocabulary, often referred to as basic interpersonal communicative skills, may have huge gaps in their academic, core academic vocabulary.

And there maybe unexpected gaps in their vocabulary knowledge as well. So that basic terms that we take for granted like paragraph or stanza or these kind of academic terms maybe missing. So we have to pay particular attention to vocabulary and language development in adjusting a tutoring program for English language learners.

Also, cultural aspects as well are very, very important. It’s very important to find out about the cultural background of students in your tutoring program. Because you don’t want to commit any taboos inadvertently and lose them because of something that you didn’t realize was not acceptable in their culture.

I always joke in Charlottesville to my graduate students that every tutor needs two books. One’s called, Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands, which is about cultural mores of the social interactions and taboos you don’t want to commit in working with students or anybody from a different culture.

And the other one is called Learner English. And it’s a great little book in which it lists for every language the phonemes that are in English that don’t exist in that language. And also the most glaring differences in syntax.

Because if you know what sounds in English don’t even exist in a student’s native language, then you can… you’ll know that you’ll have to pay particular attention to emphasize and be explicit about those and maybe even going attention to your mouth and using a mirror. But there are three things that I would adjust.

Delia Pompa: Quickly… Parents of these kids, the language barrier often can get in the way of good parent involvement on both sides. So how can these programs address that issue?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, that’s a challenge, especially as we work with children from countries where nobody in the school or school system or community or very few people speak that language. That’s a particular challenge.

My own personal experience I working with the Book Buddies in the Bronx project was that almost all of the students were native Spanish speakers and almost all of the tutors were also native Spanish speakers.

Even as the tutoring was going on in English, often vocabulary questions came up or conceptual issues came up. And they would switch into Spanish and get it straightened out and then switch back into English. It was very fortuitous.

Unfortunately, that’s not always possible when you get children from countries where there aren’t other teachers or adults that speak that language. But where possible, it’d be great to find someone who can assist in that regard. And as much as you can find out about the parents’ language as well as their cultural expectations, the better the communication will be.

Collaboration, I should add, is key to working with not only English speaking, native English speaking, tutees, but particularly with our English language learners.

Delia Pompa: Carole, what’s the BELL experience with English language learners?

Carole Prest: Well, just as Marcia was saying, we made a point of trying to find a site leader and tutors who are fluent in whatever that other predominant language is for exactly the reasons that you mentioned.

The other thing, back to parent engagement, very often the parents are intimidated by going to the school. Because they think all the parent/teacher conferences have to be in English. And so we make a point of having the parent/teacher conferences in their native language as much as we can.

We print all of the outreach materials, whether it’s the parent handbook in whatever the language is, whether it’s Spanish or Haitian Creole or Bengali. And so we really make a point of trying to reach out to the parents and make them comfortable in whatever the native language is.

Delia Pompa: Thanks, everyone. We’ve reached the end of my questions. But in part four of our webcast, a studio audience will have questions from the front lines. I hope you’ll join us.

For more information about how you can help the struggling reader in your life and to watch the rest of this webcast, please visit us at And while you’re there, please let us know your thoughts. Click on webcast to find our online survey. Thank you for joining us and take care.

Narrator: Funding for the Reading Rockets Webcast series is provided by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

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Talking Tutoring Part 4: Questions and answers

Delia Pompa: What tutoring technology is available? How can tutors engage reluctant readers? For the answers to these and other questions, please join us for segment four of the Reading Rockets webcast, “Talking Tutoring.”

Narrator: Funding for the Reading Rockets webcast series is provided by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Delia Pompa: Hi. I’m Delia Pompa. Welcome to the Reading Rockets webcast, “Talking Tutoring.” In previous segments, we’ve discussed the impact of tutoring, and what to look for in a good tutoring program. Now it’s time to hear what’s on our audience’s mind. Welcome, Dr. Invernizzi, Ms. Prest, Ms. Hoover. Glad to have you back. If you’re ready, let’s dive right into the first question.

Audience Questioner #1: Hi. What’s your opinion of online tutoring, and what other technologies are good for providing extra help?

Delia Pompa: Take it, anyone.

Anne Hoover: Well, I think that online tutoring can oftentimes help to fix a particular spot that a child is having difficulty with. It is probably not going to be adequate if the child is really having trouble with reading at a more basic level. If it’s just, you know, a small problem with one particular vowel, say, those exercises might be very engaging to the child. But it certainly can’t replace an individual person, looking at the diagnostic and assessment work and then planning a program specifically for that child.

Delia Pompa: Others? Thank you. Let’s take an email question now. This one comes from Sarah, in Massachusetts, and Sarah asks, has No Child Left Behind had any impact on the number and quality of tutoring programs available? Carole, what are your thoughts on this?

Carole Prest: Certainly, No Child Left Behind has created a funding stream called Supplemental Educational Services. And that’s providing a voucher, essentially, to parents of low-income children. That can be worth up to $2,000. And so in that case, parents get to choose among a range of state-approved providers. What’s happened is many new providers have sprung up in the last three or four years. They offer very different programs. Some programs provide as little as 10 hours of tutoring for that $2,000 voucher. Others, like BELL, will provide well in excess of 100 hours. So I think that parents have a wide range of solutions. They need to look at things like how many hours, class size, qualifications of the tutors, curriculum, and most importantly, outcomes. Every… every really good provider will have outcomes to share, and if you don’t see those outcomes, then I would keep looking.

Delia Pompa: Great. Thank you. We have another question here in the studio.

Audience Questioner #2: Hello. Can parents and grandparents make good volunteer tutors, and what other sources are available to help us build the volunteer tutoring program?

Delia Pompa: Go ahead.

Carole Prest: You know, it’s a great question, and we are at such a phenomenal point in our nation’s history. There is such focus now on college students volunteering, but also Baby Boomers. We have something in excess of 5 million Baby Boomers retiring every year, and when you ask them what they want to do, they want to do something with children and education. And so Marcia mentioned, there’s a group called Experience Corps, that is recruiting seniors to come and provide great tutoring and I would go check out their website.

Delia Pompa: Thanks very much. We’re going to go back to email now. We have one from Katie in Chicago, who’s asking, how long should extra tutoring last? All the way through high school? A grading period? I actually asked this question during a break. Marcia, what did you say?

Marcia Invernizzi: Well, I… a small percentage of students will need tutoring and… and certainly support throughout their schooling. But it’s certainly not the 20 percent that are currently designated as learning disabled in our nation’s schools right now. That percentage can be lowered dramatically by providing early intervention right from the get-go. Starting with students, as soon as they walk into kindergarten, perhaps providing additional instruction to make up for lost opportunities or lack of experiences. First, perhaps, in small groups, and if needed then moving to more intensive one-on-one tutoring.

But the research is suggesting that the… the proportion of students who will need continued support for over the long haul is under 3 percent, certainly not 20 percent.

Delia Pompa: Carole, did you want to add anything to that?

Carole Prest: No, I think that… I think that Marcia said it well. I mean what we do is, we do and a pre-post tests of students every… period that work with us, so it could be during the school year, it could be summer. Some people close that achievement gap within the one summer that we work together. Others it takes more then two… two or three sessions. But typically we see that the more they get involved, the more they want to keep coming back, the greater the gains.

Delia Pompa: Alright.

Anne Hoover: And I’ve also observed that there are some tutoring programs that… give you a package sort of deal, that you sign up for 20 lessons whether, you know, know whether you’re going to need it or not. And I think if you’re going to go with that kind of a program, then you’ve got to be doubly careful to see the assessments and be sure that you’re getting what you need. You may need less, you may need more, so trying to pre-pay or pre-decide how long you need tutoring could be a mistake.

Delia Pompa: That’s a good thing to watch out for.

Anne Hoover: Yes.

Delia Pompa: Let’s go back to our audience for another question.

Audience Questioner #3: Hello, do you have any guidance on how to help older kids serve as mentors for younger, struggling readers?

Marcia Invernizzi: I’ll take that one. First of all the same qualifications have to apply. They have to be committed, they have to enjoy working with children and they have to love reading, those three things are absolutely essential. And the committed part is even harder to get with… with older… but… but still adolescent… learners.

But certainly if you support them in the way that for example we, as Book Buddies, we’ve supported our volunteer students… tutors, excuse, by training them, providing a consistent structured lesson plan, organizing the materials ahead of time for them, showing them to do each component of the lesson plan, being there to model the behaviors, demonstrate each part and observing them as they do it to provide immediate feedback rather then let problems develop go astray, I think that… high schools students could make effective tutors of younger, younger children. That was your question right?

Audience Questioner #4: Yes, thank you.

Anne Hoover: I also would like to add one of the things we find is really an important part of our reading lessons is to end a lesson with the tutor reading aloud to the student in order to… promote a love of reading and the written text when children are struggling to do it themselves. And I think… having teens, high school students read aloud to their… student would be a wonderful part of the program.

Marcia Invernizzi: Yes and younger students really do love working with teenagers, so they have an advantage in that way so they can be great role models.

Delia Pompa: We’re going to back the e-mail bag now, thanks for those answers and this is a question from Karen in Virginia who’s asking if tutoring is an option for kids in kinder… children in kindergarten and if so, what should it look like? Ann, Marcia?

Anne Hoover: I would certainly say it is an option for a child in kindergarten if they… already are exhibiting signs that reading, learning to read is going to be difficult for them. Some things to keep in mind with a child as young as five or… or younger, are that the sessions should be short and they should be frequent. A child needs more sessions per week then an older student and one must pay close attention to their attention span and vary the activities throughout that time, maybe a half an hour would be enough, but they need to do three, four, five different activities over that time.

It’s important that the lessons by very positive and encouraging so that they are setup to be successful in school.

Delia Pompa: Great, thank you.

Carole Prest: I agree.

Delia Pompa: And thank you. Do you want to add something?

Marcia Invernizzi: I was just going to say that… I… I agree with everything Ann said that’s so important for young students to be engaged and to have a variety of… of activities and… and in game-like formats. But going back to the idea of… of universal literacy screening we know at the very beginning of kindergarten… children who have lacked the foundational emergent literacy skills coming into kindergarten and we can and should be working with them, either in small group formats or in… in one-on-one, perhaps starting out in small groups and then moving to the one-on-one.

But as Ann said, more frequently, more varied game, like certainly developmentally appropriate, but yes…

Delia Pompa: It’s a lot like play just… great, back to the audience.

Audience Questioner #5: What role should principals play in providing tutoring options in their schools or communities?

Carole Prest: I think principals are… play a very critical role. Principals really are the gateway to that school, so many providers will want to serve a particular community or a particular school community and if we can’t get to the principal, it’s almost impossible to setup a program. We like the fact that at BELL we have programs in the schools so that students don’t sort of disappear on their way out and on their way home. But having that principal be… supportive to the program, encouraging children to participate, encouraging their parents to signup, not… not looking at tutoring as a sign of failure, but rather tutoring as a sign of giving these children every possible opportunity that we can.

We like… we like to use the term these days of extending learning or expanded learning, not tutoring as something that is a sign that your child is a failure but that we’re just giving you even more opportunity to grow and be everything you can be.

Delia Pompa: Thanks.

Marcia Invernizzi: I’d like to add one thing to that.

Delia Pompa: Sure.

Marcia Invernizzi: I think it’s very educational for a principal to tutor themselves at least for one year, that they would learn a lot.

Delia Pompa: We’ll send that message. Again we have a question from the audience.

Audience Questioner #6: If a teacher wanted to start a tutoring program for ELL students, what would be the first steps that teacher would take?

Delia Pompa: Marcia.

Marcia Invernizzi: Well… I think that… collaboration is… is really key. If… if a teacher’s wanting to start an intervention for their ELL students, first you have to find out well, what are the languages, what are the culture and so forth. But here collaboration is so important because if the teacher who is providing the language instruction, the teacher who is providing the literacy instruction and the teacher who is providing the content instruction, all collaborate, then the child’s exposure to these concepts and vocabulary terms… will be more frequent and this collaboration will result in greater exposure to the language, literacy and content that you’re trying to impart.

So I would say, that would be the first step is… get with the… all the other educators who are involved in teaching the ELL students and collaborating on what that would look like.

Delia Pompa: Did you want to add something Carole?

Carole Prest: No, I think that that really… covers it. I would also say… don’t leave out the parents, just because the parents may not have English as their primary language, doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be involved and supportive. So a child can go home and read to his or her parents. A parent can check homework even if they’re not in a position to help with homework because research has… has proven that if parents are engaged, supportive of their children, that goes a long way to help those children be successful in school.

Delia Pompa: Thanks, you all have prompted lots of questions, we have another one.

Audience Questioner #7: How can a tutor engage a child whose academic difficulties have made her a reluctant reader?

Delia Pompa: Anne, can you take one?

Anne Hoover: Well yes, I think that one of the things that we emphasize with our tutors is that their first job is to form rapport and a strong relationship with their child. And one of the ways of doing that is finding out what the child’s interests are. So for example… you may have a little boy who doesn’t like to read, but he’s very interested in sports, whether it be basketball, baseball, whatever. Then of course the sports page is a wonderful place to start or perhaps baseball cards.

Another child maybe very interested in making things and so then if that child has an opportunity to read the instructions and follow diagrams of how to make a paper airplanes or perhaps how to cook brownies or rice krispy treats, actually using what the child is interested in as a means of engaging them in reading has been very successful for us and then being able to write about those experiences extends that… that even further.

Delia Pompa: Thank you very much. We’d like to get a lot more questions in, so let me turn to our audience again.

Audience Questioner #8: Hello. With summer coming are there any suggestions… are there any suggestions on how to incorporate a summer meals program with tutoring in a low income community?

Carole Prest: I can take that. The… actually Title I schools are very often identified as… as feeder locations for children who are qualified for free and reduced meals during the school year. What we’ve done at BELL is we’ve formed partnerships with school systems and we said, let us run your summer learning program and so the school, through Title I dollars, makes breakfast and lunch available but then… the students get academics in the morning, enrichment in the afternoon, field trips, community service activities, guest speakers… and so they get two very healthy meals everyday.

And I should point out that… research has been done recently on… on childhood obesity and what they have found is that if students are not getting nutritious meals during the summer, that child obesity… problem gets worse. And so… I would say that looking for a summer learning program that is somehow linked into Title I free and reduced meals programs is a great opportunity to keep kids healthy… help combat childhood obesity and give them an enriching… summer learning opportunity.

Delia Pompa: We really do have a lot more questions for you but we’ve run out of time. So… I thank you for your very thoughtful answers and I’d like you to… ask you to do one more thing and that’s I’d… that I’d like each of you to leave us one final thought with the audience… today. And can we start with you Anne?

Anne Hoover: Yes, I think that it… again as has been said before here, tutoring is not a negative experience, it’s a positive one. And in fact, it can be one of the most powerful ways of… enriching and… engaging a student.

Delia Pompa: Thanks, Carole.

Carole Prest: You know around the globe, countries other then the United States, students spend way more hours in the classroom then we do here. And it’s showing the difference between how our children are prepared and how other countries are prepared. And so rather then thinking about tutoring as a negative, as a sign that you child has failed, I think we need to think about it as an opportunity to enrich these children and prepare them as well as we possibly can for this next century.

Marcia Invernizzi: Absolutely and I’d just like to add that it’s also cost effective, it’s one of the most important investments we can make in our… in our children’s future and in our future as a nation. I started out by quoting the NAPE figures of 37 percent of our fourth graders unable to read… at a basic level out of grade appropriate text. Twenty percent of our… our nations’ students are currently identified as learning disabled and yet we have research to show that if you work through early identification and early intervention, providing small group and one-on-one tutoring right from the get-go, that you can reduce the figures to under three percent.

And I think that this… this is a cost saving… actually move… so I don’t think we should let cost keep us back. In… in the long run, by investing in early intervention through tutoring, small group and one-on-one, you will be saving millions and billions and trillions of dollars down… down the road and… reducing the number of children experiencing reading difficulties and increasing… the success of… of students in terms of… of high school graduation and continued education for a lifetime.

Delia Pompa: Well said all of you, very powerful and thank you very, very much. And thank you for joining us. To view all segments of this webcast and for more information about how you can help struggling readers in your life, please visit us at And while you’re there, please let us know your thoughts, click on webcasts to find our online survey. Again, thank you for joining us.

Narrator: Funding for the Reading Rockets webcast series is provided by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

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