AARP Foundation Experience Corps is a tutoring approach that engages volunteer tutors ages 50 or older to work with struggling readers in grades K-3. The tutors work one-to-one or in small groups of up to four students at least twice weekly for an average of 30 minutes per session. Tutors commit to providing up to 15 hours a week, and may or may not receive a stipend. In some applications Experience Corps tutors use the Reading A_Z reading literacy curriculum, while others rely on the curriculum used in the classroom, but in all cases tutors receive extensive training (usually about 25 hours) and structured materials to support their tutoring.
Two qualifying studies, in New York City, Boston, and Port Arthur, Texas, evaluated Experience Corps. The average effect size was +0.13, with significant differences on ECLAS in one study and Woodcock Johnson Passage Comprehension in the other, qualifying Experience Corps for the ESSA “Strong” category.
Staffing structure varies from program to program, however best practice indicates that programs with a Project Director, Site Coordinators, and Volunteer Team Leaders are the most successful. The project Director oversees the day to day operations and implementation of the Experience Corps program within the schools, while Site Coordinators maintain relationships with the schools, principals, teachers, and volunteers placed at each school. Site Coordinators can manage up to 5 schools with assistance from Volunteer Team Leaders who are responsible for daily communication with and data collection from the volunteers at each school. The number of Site Coordinators and Volunteer Team Leaders depends on how many volunteers and schools are being served.
New AARP Foundation Experience Corps volunteers receive at least 25 hours of targeted training and coaching in literacy, behavior management, child development and other relevant areas. At least half of the training occurs pre-service, prior to entering the classroom, and the remainder happens throughout the year. Most training is conducted locally in a face-to-face format however e-learning courses are in development for on-line training.
Internet access with an updated web browser to access a web-based Salesforce database system; Volunteer, teacher and staff access to weblinks for online surveys; program capacity to manage the Salesforce database and to produce reports.