This Week at READ USA

Literacy Tutoring

READ USA Reveals First-Ever Literacy Tutoring RCT Results at Press Conference

  • Read USA Inc.
  • April 24 2024


Monday marked yet another significant milestone in the history of READ USA, one that irrefutably demonstrates the power of our Literacy Tutoring program.

(See that RCT acronym in the headline? We will explain!)


At a press conference held in partnership with Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) leadership, our CEO Dr. Rob Kelly announced the results of READ USA’s first-ever randomized controlled trial, or RCT study. Conducted and analyzed by our third-party research partners at The Ohio State University, the study conclusively validated past evaluations of Literacy Tutoring’s impact: elementary students who participate in our tutoring program demonstrably improve their reading skills.

While past studies have indicated similar results, this study was different. With an RCT study, one group of individuals receive a treatment or intervention – in this case, the intervention was literacy tutoring – while another group serves as the control for comparison.


As Dr. Kelly stated, “The impressive results provide third party-validated evidence of what we have understood for several years: READ USA Literacy Tutoring works.”

The study results speak for themselves:

  • According to Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST) results, students who participated in Literacy Tutoring were 68% more likely to increase a performance level in reading skills compared to the students in the control group.
  • On the Gray Oral Reading Test (GORT) results, over the course of three months of tutoring, READ USA students:
    • Gained 8.0 months in word reading accuracy, compared to 2.3 months for students in the control group.
    • Gained 7.5 months in reading comprehension, compared to 2.9 months for students in the control group.
    • Gained 4.2 months in oral reading fluency, compared to 3.5 months for students in the control group.
    • Gained 5.1 months in oral reading fluency, compared to 3.2 months for students in the control group.

Because all students who received tutoring started, on average, one to two grade levels behind in literacy performance, these results demonstrate how READ USA Literacy Tutoring provides the accelerated growth necessary to catch these students up to reading on grade level.

Click here to read the press release announcement and access the full RCT Report here.

During the press conference, Dr. Kelly also affirmed the unity between READ USA and DCPS, stating, “Our partnership with Duval County Public Schools has been integral in facilitating this first-ever randomized controlled trial, ensuring that we could implement the tutoring program effectively and measure its impacts accurately.”

READ USA is immensely grateful to DCPS Board Chair Darryl Willie, DCPS Board Member April Carney, whose daughter serves as a READ USA tutor, and to DCPS Superintendent Dr. Dana Kriznar and DCPS Chief Academic Officer Paula Renfro, all of whom shared insightful and genuine remarks during the press conference. We are also grateful to the DCPS Board members who joined Dr. Kelly at the podium to express solidarity with READ USA, including Dr. Kelly Coker, Cindy Pearson, Warren Jones, and Dr. Lori Hershey.


Our heartfelt thank you to Tearica Watts and her daughter, Giovanni (center, above), for sharing their experience with Literacy Tutoring; Teen Tutor Chyna Toban (second from right, above), who has been a READ USA tutor since the very beginning; and to Jacksonville Heights Elementary School Teacher Tracey Anglin (second from left, above), who also works with our program and shared the improvements she has seen in the students. Thank you for sharing your voice and experiences with the people of Jacksonville!

Check out some of the media coverage from the press conference below – and many thanks to the media who joined us yesterday for this exciting announcement!

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Dr. Kelly in Florida Times-Union: Driving Impact Through an Evidence-Based Approach

#ICYMI on Sunday, our CEO Dr. Rob Kelly’s guest column appeared in the Florida Times-Union, making the case for literacy-focused nonprofits to use an evidence-based approach to their work.

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In his column, Dr. Kelly makes several key points, including:

  • The call for evidence-based practice in literacy instruction is grounded in a straightforward premise: Interventions should be validated by reliable, empirical research demonstrating their effectiveness in improving reading skills.
  • When literacy programs are scrutinized for efficacy, only the most effective methods are employed, leading to significant, life-altering improvements for students in need.
  • When we embrace and implement practices that are proven to be effective in fostering reading proficiency, we elevate individual learners while also advancing our society’s intellectual and social fabric.

(Another #ICYMI, linked within Dr. Kelly’s guest column is Florida Times-Union Columnist Mark Woods’ recent article about a READ USA tutor, here.)

Dr. Kelly’s message was well timed with our press conference announcement on Monday, and we are grateful to the Florida Times-Union for sharing his important message with the broader community.

We truly believe that through READ USA’s evidence-based approach to literacy improvement, we can improve the life of every child in our community who is struggling to read. And as you can see from Monday’s announcement, Literacy Tutoring really IS improving lives!Read the Full Column


Research Partners Present READ USA Data at Conference

Our research partners at The Ohio State University (OSU), who also led our RCT Report investigation and analysis announced on Monday, presented data from READ USA Literacy Tutoring at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in Philadelphia the other week.

Among 14,000+ attendees, comprised of researchers who work in the education and related fields, our partners Dr. Jerome D’Agostino and Dr. Emily Rodgers at OSU reviewed cumulatively the research they have conducted for READ USA since 2021.

“We were able to demonstrate that READ USA has consistently yielded positive effects,” Dr. D’Agostino shared. “We also discussed the latest RCT study, which was particularly rigorous. The researchers in attendance found the Literacy Tutoring intervention very interesting.”

He added, “There is significant value in sharing this information with the educational research community: these are the folks who are talking to school districts about literacy and other interventions.”

OSU has conducted five studies during the past few years of our Literacy Tutoring program, in addition to studies conducted by the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University.

“The fact that READ USA research is conducted, evaluated, and shared among leading educational researchers across the country is a testament to the efficacy of the program we have built,” said our CEO Dr. Kelly. “We are grateful for our partners in the research community who are not only interested in our work but want to share it among their peers and extended networks. That speaks volumes about how we are delivering upon our mission.”


Do You Know Jaguars Linebacker Caleb Johnson? Now Jeremy Does!

Our fictional storyteller and namesake of our Jeremy’s Journey book series, Jeremy, recently met another new friend: Jacksonville Jaguars Linebacker Caleb Johnson!

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Similar to Jeremy, Caleb was always meeting new people when he was young, as he grew up in a miliary family and traveled quite a bit. “I got used to being the new kid in class,” he shared with Jeremy. “It wasn’t always easy, and I think it helped me adjust to new situations in life and my career.”

Now a well-known football player in the NFL, Caleb was just seven years old when he played his first game of tackle football. It was at that same age that Caleb learned an important lesson: “You can love the game, but the game doesn’t have to love you back,” he said, remembering when he made a great play and then got completely run over the next play. And as you can guess, that love for the game and tenacity for winning has stuck with Caleb to this day.

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Off the field, Caleb is also an avid reader. He told Jeremy that he pursues literacy like a “Book Hawk,” just like he is a “Ball Hawk” on the football field. He is currently working on his own children’s book titled The Candlemaker, and he is also illustrating the book himself.

He also shared with Jeremy that he admires the great effort that READ USA vigorously takes to help children learn to read. “Effort is the number one thing no one can teach you to do… you must always do your best and never let yourself or your teammates down. Remember that your effort is about something bigger than you!”

Jeremy 100% agrees with you, Caleb! Thank you for allowing Jeremy and READ USA to share your amazing story!

Caleb’s Jeremy’s Journey book is now available to order for $20 per copy. Click here to place your order and coordinate pickup with READ USA.  

Children’s Book: Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin & Kate Messner

Illustrated by Grace LinOnceUponABook_large

Once Upon a Book is a spellbinding ode to imagination and the transformative wonder of stories. 

Cold sleet is falling, and the central character of this home-and-back-again adventure tale, Alice, is stuck inside, bored. Then she spots a book on the floor and starts to read: “Once upon a time, there was a girl…She went to a place alive with colors, where even the morning dew was warm.” “That sounds like our home,” says one of the book’s characters (a flamingo), who invites the child into the book. She climbs in and spends time with the animal characters. When it starts to rain, she wishes to be elsewhere, and the camels in the desert on the next spread of the book (one she’s both inhabiting and holding in her hands) invite her to join them: “Turn the page and come in.”

And so it goes, the girl on a thrilling journey of the imagination, swimming through a coral reef, floating in space, and much more. At home, Alice has a plush rabbit and rabbit-shaped slippers, but a real (and vigilant) rabbit accompanies her on her journey; readers can seek-and-find it on every spread. The text builds patterns and a pleasing rhythm with repeating sentence structures; children will delight in anticipating what comes next. Grace Lin’s lush spreads invite readers to take the journey with Alice, whose dress changes color in each environment, making her blend into every one of the worlds. Alice enjoys exploring, but on each page, something is not quite right—it’s either too wet, dusty, cold, lonely, and so on. When she finds a page showing a cozy kitchen, she realizes it looks like home. Dumplings are ready for dinner, and Alice happily rejoins her family.

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

Parent Education Corner: Let’s Go to the Library!

During the month of April, we celebrate National Library Week. National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use.

The public library is a wonderful resource for you and your child. Most lend not only books, but also music and videos. Early library visits can lay the foundation for a lifelong love of books. Explore the children’s library together and give your child a little independence on choosing and checking out books. Here are a couple of ideas to make this visit successful and fun:

  • Get your child his/her own library card and visit the children’s library regularly.
  • Set a good example. Keep books and publications out and available and let your children see you enjoy reading them.
  • Let older children choose the books they want to read to further encourage the reading habit. You might want to read the same book your older child is reading and discuss it to build your child’s capacity for thought and insight. Siblings may want to have a special reading time at home together.
  • Talk with the children about the concept of ‘quiet’ before you visit the library. Remind them how nice and quiet it is when you read to them at home, so it’s important to the people in the library not to be disturbed by noise. Discuss what it means to ‘whisper.’
  • Encourage children to take care of books, so others can enjoy them, too. Make sure hands are clean before handling a book and NEVER write or scribble in a book, especially if it is not yours and borrowed from the library.
  • Use bookmarks to mark your page, never crease or ‘dog-ear’ the page.
  • Go on a letter hunt. Find as many letters as possible on book titles. Help your child find all the letters in his/her name. Then look for an alphabet book for your child to take home and enjoy.
  • Have your child think of a special kind of book he would like to read. It could be a book with a favorite character or one about a special topic. Think about authors - does your child have a favorite? Let him introduce himself to the librarian and ask her to help him find this special book on the library shelf.
  • Set a limit on the number of books your child may check out. One idea is to let him check out as many books as his age. Have him count the books, stack them on the table from the largest to smallest, and then carry them to the checkout counter. He will feel mature and proud!

Enjoy these activities with your child as you unlock the hidden magic of the library and nurture a lifelong love of reading!

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

Do you have any questions or ideas for the Parent Education Corner? Anything you’d like to learn? Let us know here!

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