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One organization assists Delaware students in recovering from pandemic

Reading Assist Institute

Reading Assist is helping young Delaware students recover learning loss as a result of the pandemic.

Reading Assist has worked with readers for over 30 years, building reading proficiency for students who are struggling most.

They recruit tutors to train to deliver high-dosage, one-on-one tutoring to students during school, after school, and in the summer.

This past school year was an especially successful year for Reading Assist. Assessments of almost 600 of their students in kindergarten to third grade found 70% reached benchmarks in early foundational reading skills.

Students also outpaced expectations for growth by an average 200% while some outpaced expected growth by up to 600%.

They served more than 1,000 students, five times the number served in the previous school year.

They also saw success in their summer program with 87% of students showing improvement after four weeks of tutoring.

"Over the past couple of years in response to such a significant learning loss from so many of our students across the state we've partnered with school districts across the state, and with the Department of Education here the Delaware Department of Ed to provide and expand services,” said Caroline O’Neal, CEO of Reading Assist. “One-on-one tutoring to those students who are most struggling so we worked in partnership with schools to identify students who are the lowest 10% of reading proficiency."

O’Neal notes improving critical reading skills in Delaware – which recent state data shows students lagging behind – will be helped by recent legislation passed and students going back to school regularly.

“There are students that are just getting extra practice. They're going to need that support, and they're going to need that one-on-one. And then communities that have been underserved and that have been facing two years of disruption in education we need to make sure that we're providing that support appropriately to students making sure that enough of the students are getting that one-on-one support that need it," said O’Neal.

O’Neal adds their program has become a pathway for tutors to explore education and even thinking about a career as teaching.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.