MADISON — The United Way of Dane County and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) has announced that new data show that the Schools of Hope (SOH) program is showing success in closing gaps in student achievement. The new data shows several areas of achievement in the program which include: increased academic achievement in literacy skills in students, uniqueness and effective use of skilled volunteers, and the value of the work that MMSD teachers place on the results the program is producing.
“We are pleased to see that students participating in the Schools of Hope initiative are showing gains in student literacy,” Jane Belmore, 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 the United Way, their volunteers and our teachers who work with our students every day and are having a positive impact.”
Schools of Hope is collaboration between United Way of Dane County, Madison Metropolitan School District, and Centro Hispano, with additional support from Sun Prairie Area School District and Middleton/CrossPlains School District. Its mission is to work with school staff to eliminate the racial and socio-economic achievement gap by increasing the academic performance of students of color and those from low-income families. Led by a team of AmeriCorps members based in elementary schools, volunteer tutors are matched with children in need of additional help with reading and math. Schools of Hope serves students in the Madison, Middleton, and Sun Prairie school districts, working with staff to deliver academic support.
A thorough evaluation performed by educational researcher, Dr. Annalee Good, shows significant success increasing literacy levels in elementary students. The in-depth evaluation analyzed three assessments to determine the positive impact on student achievement.
Good consulted with the Schools of Hope Project as an external evaluator, completing the evaluation in 2012. She also is an educational researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she serves as the Research Director for the Multisite Evaluation of Supplemental Educational Services, a mixed-method longitudinal study of afterschool tutoring. She has published and presented numerous papers on the nature of the instructional landscape in federally funded tutoring programs, as well as the role of tutoring in school reform. Annalee has consulted on a number of program evaluations in the field of education. She was a classroom teacher for five years before earning her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and continues to teach online courses for middle school students in Wisconsin.
Schools of Hope uses an effective, one-on-one or one-on-two tutoring model that provides trained tutors to work in concert with the teacher’s curriculum helping students get the additional academic attention they may need.
Students who participated in the SOH one-on-one or one-on-two tutoring model showed consistently greater growth rates in their text reading levels, which are a foundational assessment tool used widely to understand how children are doing in their literacy progress.
This is an important assessment as teachers are able to get feedback on a student’s progress immediately and can therefore shape curriculum to best foster that child’s development.
“An increase in text reading levels is a significant indicator of success. These are assessed at the beginning and end of the school year, so to see such immediate improvement is a sign that we are closing an important foundational gap,” says Leslie Ann Howard, president and CEO of United Way of Dane County. “The credit for this work goes to the thousands of volunteers, teachers, schools districts and non-profit partners who are a part of this work. Our community’s children are succeeding because of you.”
Over the past 16 years, United Way has invested over $10 million in specific research-backed strategies to close the achievement gap and has deployed over 14,000 skilled volunteer tutors who have supported 57,000 community students as part of the SOH program. As one of their key strategies, SOH uses an effective, one-on-one or one-on-two tutoring model that provides trained tutors to work in concert with the teacher’s curriculum helping students get the additional academic attention they may need. Centro Hispano, at the elementary level, and Urban League of Greater Madison, at the secondary level, remain key nonprofit partners in implementing this program.
“United Way is a critical partner in our work of closing the achievement gap,” says Belmore. “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.”
Dr. Good 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.”
To Become a Schools of Hope Tutor
If you are interested in becoming a Schools of Hope tutor, please call United Way 2-1-1 or log onto www.unitedwaydanecounty.org and click on the VOLUNTEER button or call 608.441.7895 or email the Project at firstname.lastname@example.org.