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Reading Corps

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The numbers say it all: One quarter of Minnesota’s children are not ready for kindergarten and nearly one in three third-graders is not reading at grade level. This translates into nearly 157,000 children who are not on track to become successful readers by third grade.

Without the reading skills needed for education and economic success, these children are at risk for lifelong negative consequences associated with illiteracy. Decades of research shows that when students get off to a poor start in reading, they rarely catch up and become ‘in-school dropouts’ as early as 4th grade.

Minnesota Reading Corps, a strategic initiative of ServeMinnesota, is an early literacy program that is turning around this unacceptable reality. In more than 800 elementary and preschool settings across the state, AmeriCorps members employ research-based techniques proven to help children achieve reading success.


Minnesota Reading Corps Statewide Evaluation for the 2011-12 academic year shows positive results. Statewide, 80% of Reading Corps participants, all of whom were at significant risk for failure, passed Minnesota assessment tests. This matched the overall 59% pass rate for all Minnesota students.

The program is also having a substantial impact on the state’s special education base. In a matched sample study, Reading Corps participants were three times less likely to be referred to special education.

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“Minnesota Reading Corps is an essential component of our strategy for accelerating learning. Their track record of improving literacy outcomes for struggling readers creates the foundation that is absolutely necessary for lifelong learning.”

— Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Commissioner, MN Department of Education


“This relationship is founded on the shared values that we can improve education outcomes, help all children reach their full potential and create the leaders and workforce that ensure our further global competitiveness. We deeply appreciate the important work you do, and we look forward to continuing to align our efforts with yours.”

— Laysha Ward, President of Community Relations, Target


“Reading Corps provides not only the intense interventions that support the urgency of the skills our students need, but are setting a foundation to instill confidence and a love of literature that is truly priceless to the success of our youth.”

-Melanie Jiskra, Principal at Lyle Public School in Lyle, Minnesota

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How It Works

Minnesota Reading Corps combines the power of AmeriCorps with the science of how children learn to read. Rigorously trained members work with children from age three to grade three who have been identified as below grade-level. In preschool settings, Reading Corps tutors serve in the classroom, assisting students individually and in small groups. In elementary schools, K-3rd grade participants receive daily, individual tutoring for an average of 90 minutes each week.

The Reading Corps model is developed and tested by education experts at the University of Minnesota and several local school districts. Using the latest research on reading intervention strategies and coaching from literacy experts, members review a children’ progress, identify weak spots and apply techniques designed specifically for the individual child’s need. This access to cutting-edge literacy research and continual student evaluation sets Reading Corps apart from other tutoring programs.

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