23 February 2023

One of the Largest Randomized Control Trials of High Impact Tutoring for Beginning Reading

Chapter One’s High Impact Tutoring Demonstrated to Improve Student Beginning Reading Skills

68% of the students in the treatment group met the end of year kindergarten benchmark, compared to 32% in the control group.

Share this page


In one of the largest randomized control studies of the impact of 1:1 tutoring on beginning reading skills, researchers at the Annenberg Institute National Students Support Accelerator found that Chapter One’s high impact tutoring program substantially increased students’ phonics skills, preparing them for reading success in subsequent grades. The 1:1 tutoring program has been expanded to almost 12,000 students in Broward County Public Schools, making it one of the largest implementations of high impact tutoring for beginning reading in the United States.

Broward County’s decision to scale Chapter One’s high impact tutoring program comes after years of pilot implementations in various Broward Schools.

We have seen the impact of the Chapter One programs, both high impact tutoring and online reading volunteers, in the percentage of students meeting grade level expectations in reading and the overall average growth in reading over the year. Comparison studies of students with and without a Chapter One tutor have highlighted the significance of their work and the difference that a tutor can make."

Dr. Lori Canning

Executive Director of Family and Community Engagement

Broward County Public Schools

The Need for Sustainable High Impact Tutoring for Beginning Reading

According to the most recent NAEP National Report Card, only 33% of fourth graders are proficient in reading. While this percentage is down 3% since prior to the pandemic, demonstrating the deleterious impact of the pandemic on student learning, the percentage of students reading at grade level has been persistently low for decades. Various studies have shown that 1:1 tutoring is one of the most effective interventions for beginning reading, particularly with struggling students. However, there are multiple challenges to scaling 1:1 tutoring interventions in a manner that can be sustained as a multi-year intervention. The cost of 1:1 tutoring can be prohibitive, typically $1,200 to $2,500 per student. Recruiting, training and managing tutoring staff at scale is daunting, particularly for large districts. Pulling students out of regular classroom instruction can be disruptive.

Chapter One, a nonprofit operating in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, is overcoming the challenges of scaling a sustainable 1:1 tutoring program through the leveraging of its software technology and reading instructional methods implemented in classrooms for 30 years, enabling 1:1 tutoring to be provided affordably and sustainably.

The Results

Results of the first year of the randomized control trial demonstrated the substantial impact 1:1 tutoring has on students’ reading skill development. Nearly 70% of students in the treatment group achieved benchmark phonics skills at the end of the year, compared to 32% of students in the control group. Students who achieved the benchmark skills are able to segment and blend simple short-vowel-sound words, which will enable them to independently read decodable stories at the beginning of first grade. These students are far more likely to end first grade with proficient reading fluency than students who are still learning the sounds of isolated letters in first grade.

The trial's second-year results confirmed positive outcomes in reading proficiency. By the end of Grade 1, students who had started with high impact tutoring in Kindergarten scored 35% higher in reading fluency than the control group, with 62% of treatment students achieving reading fluency Level 9 or above by the end of Grade 1, compared to 48% of the control group.