Skip to main content

Release of Major National Research Showing Experience Corps Produces Big Gains in Student Learning

Resource type: News

Experience Corps |

Read the full report: WASHINGTON, DC — Two years ago, Washington University researchers launched a major national study to answer this question: Do Experience Corps members have an impact on the reading ability of the children they tutor? Very few nonprofits are fortunate enough to be the subject of such a large, thorough study. Nationally known researchers at one of the nation’s leading universities compared more than 800 students, half with Experience Corps tutors and half without, in 23 schools in three cities over the course of one school year. The study is remarkable for its size and rigor. But what the researchers found is remarkable, too. First, so many students need so much help. Half of all the students referred to Experience Corps perform at or below the sixteenth percentile in reading nationwide. Sixteenth, one-six. That means 84 percent of our nation’s youngsters at their age perform better. If you’re looking for the roots of our national dropout problem, you’ve found it. Second, and I don’t think I can say it simpler than this: Experience Corps works. Over a single school year, students with Experience Corps tutors made over 60 percent more progress in reading comprehension than similar students not served by the program. That’s sixty – six-oh. It turns out that students with Experience Corps tutors get a boost in reading skills equivalent to the boost they would get from being assigned to a classroom with 40 percent fewer children. And it doesn’t matter if the children speak English at home, are African American, Latino, or white…are boys or girls…or have behavior problems. The researchers found that Experience Corps works for all of them, equally well. Third, no school-based intervention works without the support of teachers…and teachers welcome Experience Corps. In overwhelming numbers, teachers say Experience Corps benefits students, while presenting little or no burden to them. And finally, Experience Corps works for the tutors, too. Experience Corps members are mentally and physically healthier than other similar adults who don’t serve. Involvement in the program actually appears to slow down age-related health declines. This is a remarkable study at a remarkable time. Just two weeks from today, President Obama will sign the Serve America Act, dramatically expanding national service opportunities for people of all ages. And in the coming months, Arne Duncan’s education department will begin its effort to scale up education programs that work. The potential impact of Experience Corps is huge. Every day, nearly 10,000 people celebrate their 60th birthdays. And, every day, thousands more teenagers drop out of high school, never having mastered the reading skills they needed to succeed. It’s time to put boomers who want to serve together with the students who need their help. It’s time to take a program that has proved its effectiveness, as Experience Corps has, and bring it up to scale. Today Experience Corps members serve 20,000 students in 23 cities. With this research at hand, and ten years of learning behind us, it is time to bring Experience Corps to every community. Experience Corps is dedicated to providing students the gold standard in tutoring and mentoring support. Our children deserve no less. Thank you. MP3 file of today’s conference call – To listen, click here

Related Resources



Global Impact:

United States


Experience Corps, nonprofits