Academic journal article Reading Improvement

After-School Tutoring for Reading Achievement and Urban Middle School Students

Academic journal article Reading Improvement

After-School Tutoring for Reading Achievement and Urban Middle School Students

Article excerpt

This research study's purpose or theme was to qualitatively investigate the reading component of a private after-school tutoring program that offered academic assistance to eighth-grade students. The problem with reading is many urban middle school students have poor reading skills and do not perform well on reading standardized tests.

Relative to methodology, the student participants in the study were 30 eighth graders who attended a local, private, nonprofit tutoring facility in the researcher's state. The basic research design was the descriptive-interview research design. Three research questions were investigated through the collection and analysis of qualitative data from 15 content-valid interview questions. The researcher conducted face-to-face interviews with the six teachers (tutors) and one facility director. An interview session for each of the three interview questions lasted about 30 minutes. Thus, the total interview time for the six teachers and one facility director was approximately 210 minutes, or 3-1/2 hours. The total time to interview with all 15 interview questions was about 10 hours.

Results showed educators perceived more practice generated greater reading success and improvement. In addition, it was reported that reading improvement occurred for every student whose attendance was consistent. Practice makes perfect, and students often benefit from teachers who insist that they work to their fullest potential. A major conclusion of the study involved the need for increased funding to institute more national after-school tutoring programs that enhance reading skills.

Introduction

The underachievement of many students, especially poor ethnic minorities, represented a reality that plagued public education across the United States. This was evident from data of core curricular areas, such as reading and mathematics (Veerkamp & Kamps, 2007). On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB; 2002) into law. This legislation represented his education reform plan and contained the most sweeping changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since its enactment in 1965. One major rationale for the passage of this law was to close the achievement gap between upper-income and middle-income Caucasians and low-income minorities who attended public schools (NCLB, 2002; U.S. Department of Education, 2007).

According to Bridgeland, DiIulio, and Wulsin (2008), low academic performance among urban youth could be highlighted by the fact that almost one third of all public high school students and nearly 50% of minorities failed to graduate with their class. The authors further espoused that the majority of students who attended public schools in underserved urban communities consistently exhibited low scores on achievement tests and nonmastery of basic concepts, as evidenced by standardized assessment data of the various states. Many students could benefit from well-planned tutorial programs those specifically targeted student areas of academic weaknesses (Gordon, Morgan, O'Malley, & Ponticell, 2006).

The purpose of the study was to qualitatively assess the reading component of a private after-school tutoring program that offered academic assistance to eighth-grade students in reading, language arts, writing, mathematics, and science. The study evaluated only the reading component, because reading achievement is the foundation of all learning and represents a major desired objective of schools throughout the United States.

Literature Review

Over a half century since the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 to desegregate public schools, an examination of research indicated that minority students continued to score lower than Caucasian students in the areas of reading, mathematics, writing, and science (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). The U.S. Department of Education (2007) further reported that, although achievement gaps declined to some extent over the years, low academic achievement and disproportionate high school dropout rates continued to present problems among minorities students, especially those in low-income families. …

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