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Citation:Allen, A., & Chavkin, N. F. (2004). New evidence that tutoring with community volunteers can help middle school students improve their academic achievement. School Community Journal, 14(2), 7-18.

This study evaluates the impact of minimally trained community volunteer tutors on the pass/fail ratio of middle school students in core subjects including math, reading, English, and science. The tutoring program was part of a larger dropout prevention initiative and targeted students experiencing serious difficulty passing a course. Analyses indicated a significant increase in the number of students who received higher and passing grades at the end of the year when compared to grades prior to tutoring. In addition, results suggest that the students who received more tutoring were more likely to get higher grades. These data were collected from 256 middle school students who were mostly Hispanic or African American. Because a traditional experimental design was not financially feasible, students were divided into two groups based on the number of tutoring hours they received; thus, a comparison could be made between students that received more tutoring and those that received less. The schools were located in one large urban school district and two smaller rural districts; the majority were located in the inner-city. The tutors were 31 AmeriCorps volunteers of diverse ethnicities and educational backgrounds. This study suggests that tutoring from volunteers, even with minimal training, can have a significant positive impact on the grades of the students who receive the tutoring, and it can increase the likelihood that students will pass a core subject. One limitation to this experiment is that there was no separate control group. Future research, including randomized controlled trials, would help to support the findings from this study.

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