AmeriCorps in Action

Reading tutor and students

Serving More Students with Pairs Tutoring

The research is in, and the results are exciting. Reading Corps tutoring in pairs is just as effective as tutoring students individually! This small innovation provides an incredible opportunity to support even more students in building the skills they need to become proficient readers and successful learners. Keep reading to learn more about the research and why it matters.

The Research Objective 

Knowing pairs tutoring had already proven effective with Reading Corps’ kindergarten and first grade students, our team set out to evaluate if a paired intervention could have the same effect as a one-on-one intervention for second and third graders. The idea was to retain the program’s effective, individualized approach,” says David Parker, PhD — vice president of research and development at our partner ServeMinnesota.  
Just like individual tutoring, students are identified for support based on their individual reading skills. When deciding the best intervention approach, student skill level is considered along with coach and teacher input. So, what’s different? “The only thing that changes is that students with similar skills are paired together,” says Parker. “This makes the program more efficient and potentially enriches the tutoring experience for both students.”  


Tutors and coaches were trained to implement a pairs intervention at randomly selected sites during the 2021-22 school year. The results showed no significant difference in scores between students who received paired interventions and those who were tutored one-on-one!  

In addition, over three-quarters of surveyed tutors and coaches found conducting the paired intervention to be the same or easier than tutoring one-on-one, and 97% of those surveyed recommend implementing the intervention. Given the great results and the positive feedback, the strategy is now available to all tutors.

Tutor Experience 

Kendell is a Reading Corps alum who tutored pairs in her daily service. “I absolutely loved tutoring in pairs,” she says. “My students responded so well to being together. They looked forward to coming to sessions every day because they had so much fun while still getting all of the intervention work done!” 

“There was a huge growth in the confidence that the students showed,” Kendell continues. “I really enjoyed how much they learned from each other and how they truly enjoyed reading. I also loved being able to see more students in my caseload and making a bigger impact in my school.” 

Growing Needs & Impact 

In the wake of pandemic disruptions to learning, test scores are falling. Nationally, nearly two-thirds of fourth graders scored less than proficient on reading assessments. With a heightened need for intervention, pairs tutoring offers much needed additional capacity.  

“Paired interventions allow us to serve many more students than we could one-on-one,” says Anne Sinclair, PhD — chief learning officer. “That’s especially important in a time when many students impacted by the pandemic are demonstrating they have not yet met grade level expectations in reading.”  

During the 2022-23 school year, about 20 percent of students served by Reading Corps received pairs tutoring. This year the target is 50 percent. As we work to amplify our impact and support even more students, we look forward to sharing updates and many student success stories!  

Interested in learning more about the research that drives our programs? Visit our partners at the National Science and Service Collaborative! Want to know more about the paired intervention research? Check out the research brief!

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