Minnesota Reading Corps (MRC) is a statewide initiative to help every child become a successful reader by the end of 3rd grade. The program began in Head Start agencies in 2003 but due to its successful results, it quickly grew to serve children ages 3 - grade 3 throughout the state. It is an AmeriCorps affiliated program made up of members who serve a year at a site such as Sibley East in order to make an impact in that community. Members serve a total of 1720 hours as full-time or 920 hours for part-time tutors, fulfilling an 11 month commitment with AmeriCorps.
These members are placed as literacy tutors to emerging readers in sites to implement research-based, early-literacy strategies. In preschool settings, the MRC Tutors work directly in the classroom assisting the teacher in creating literacy-rich environments. For K-3rd grade, the MRC Tutors work one-on-one providing additional practice for readers. School-wide, students are tested for reading proficiency and those scores are then used to determine who is eligible for the Reading Corps program.
The Tutors meet the students daily for 20 minutes delivering research-based interventions and follow a Response-to-Intervention (RTI) approach. This means that progress is monitored weekly and evaluated monthly to deliver appropriate interventions based upon each student’s needs. There are ten interventions used that progress from discerning letter sounds, to phonemic awareness, to developing fluency and expression.
2012-2013 school year marks year five for Reading Corps in Sibley East Schools and the benefits of the program are immense. Research has shown that approximately 75% of students identified with a reading problem in third grade are still reading disabled in ninth grade if not given an intervention (Shaywitz et al., 1993; Francis et al., 1996). It is also estimated that the number of children who are typically identified as poor readers could be reduced by up to 70% through early identification and prevention programs (Lyon et al., Rethinking Learning Disabilities, 2001). For Sibley East, 3rd grade MCA reading scores have risen from 73% at or above passing in 2006 to over 87% passing in 2011!