WakeTogether’s Success in High Dose Tutoring

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Tutors work with students through WakeTogether; Photo: Helps Education Fund

We are excited to announce that WAKE Up and Read, a NC Campaign for Grade-Level Reading community, is a finalist for the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) 2022-2023 Pacesetter Awards. Over 500 submissions were received from across the country and WAKE Up and Read is among the 46 finalists. WAKE Up and Read is a community coalition made up of 30+ committed organizations working together toward one common goal — improving childhood literacy.

Pacesetter communities demonstrate exceptional work on one of seven national CGLR “Must Do Priorities” for early success. WAKE Up and Read is nominated for its work to slow learning loss and accelerate equitable learning recovery through tutors and out-of-school learning opportunities.

Wake Up and Read Partners Address Learning Loss

The Wake County Public School System (WCPSS), the YMCA of the Triangle (YMCA), and Helps Education Fund (HEF) created WakeTogether, an initiative to address student learning loss from the pandemic and to accelerate equitable recovery.  The collaboration officially kicked off in the Fall of 2022.

 WakeTogether has brought community partners, families, and schools to work together to strategically improve educational and social outcomes for students. The strategies focus on reducing educational disparities and improving the well-being of Wake County students by aligning resources, building partnerships, providing evidence-based learning opportunities, and measuring impact.

WakeTogether leveraged staff, volunteers, and a strong network of partners, and support from elected officials who serve on the WCPSS Board of Education to launch The Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies (HELPS) Program. HELPS is a high dosage tutoring program focused on improving reading fluency for second to fifth grade students. The program has been implemented using a two-prong approach: (1) small group tutoring facilitated by WCPSS staff and (2) one-on-one tutoring implemented by trained volunteers.

Training and coaching were key components of successful implementation. In the first year, 120 teachers were trained and 151 volunteers participated in a four-hour training and subsequent coaching sessions. This led to countywide participation of 29%, with 35 of 119 elementary schools participating in the 2022-2023 school year. Teachers and trained volunteers tutored 1,058 students, racking up 13,800 small group sessions and 5,600 one-on-one sessions.

Student Growth Shines Through Benchmarks

Students demonstrated sizable gains in oral reading fluency and across both the small group and one-on-one tutoring. Approximately 33% of participating students met 2022-23 end-of-year benchmarks for fluency, and their growth rate far exceeded that of second to fifth grade students overall. African American/Black and Latino/Hispanic students demonstrated the greatest growth in meeting benchmarks for fluency.

We asked Lori Krzeszewski, WAKE Up and Read Administrator, what contributed to the success of the initiative. 

“The sizable gains in percentage of students meeting benchmark for fluency in the initial year was remarkable. The overwhelmingly positive support and investment across community stakeholders exceeded expectations, as did the shared sense of urgency and the will to act to improve literacy for all students,” Lori said.

WakeTogether Organizations include:

  • The City of Raleigh
  • Communities in Schools
  • The Daniel Center for Math and Science
  • The Boys and Girls Club of Wake County
  • Read and Feed
  • Wake County Libraries
  • Wake County Public School System 
  • Wake Education Partnership
  • Wake PTA 

The school system provided the initial funding, established student eligibility criteria, provided lists for schools to select participants, conducted volunteer background checks, and analyzed data. The YMCA led volunteer recruitment efforts, hosted a website, and co-led information sessions for interested volunteers.

HEF trained staff and volunteers, coordinated volunteer placement at schools, provided coaching, and collected data. The county libraries, Wake PTA, and the City of Raleigh, among other partners, supported volunteer recruitment by publicizing the initiative across locations. 

As the collaboration looks to the future, the focus will be on scaling the tutoring program. Establishing structures that support improved attendance tracking and data collection/sharing, reducing the time between training and implementation, and improving volunteer management will be critical to scalability.

NC Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Since 2015, the NC Early Childhood Foundation has served as the state lead for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in North Carolina. The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has mobilized 300 communities across the country to ensure that more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. It is a collaborative effort by foundations, non-profit organizations, business leaders and government agencies supporting children’s school readiness, summer learning and regular school attendance.

North Carolina’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has a vision where diverse and inclusive communities grow thriving readers, beginning at birth and continuing through third grade, so each child is prepared for success. Thirteen community collaboratives, including WAKE Up and Read in Wake County, are currently participating in the NC Campaign.

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The NC Early Childhood Foundation is driven by a bold – and achievable – vision: Each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for life-long health, education, and well-being supported by a comprehensive, equitable birth-to-eight ecosystem. We build understanding, lead collaboration, and advance policies to ensure each North Carolina child is on track for lifelong success by the end of third grade.