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Reading grades studied

2, 3

Tutoring with the Lightning Squad

Essa Rating
No. Studies
No. Students
Average Effect Size

Program Description

Tutoring with the Lightning Squad is a small group reading intervention for grades 1-5 that focuses on mastery of early decoding skills and development of fluency. Tutors work with groups of up to four students in daily half hour sessions. Students work in pairs using interactive, game-like, web-based activities in which students take turns as reader and coach to help each other succeed. The software tracks individual and team success, providing strong motivational support, and adapts the lesson presentation based on students’ responses. Built-in assessments guide placement and monitor progress, providing reports of growth over time to students, parents, and homeroom teachers. Family connection activities, including videos and web-links tied to current individual instructional targets, allow students to show-off their progress and reinforce skills at home.  In most sites, tutors are employed by the school or a community partner. Most tutors have a college degree but are not certified teachers. Training and coaching support, including periodic data reviews to insure high-quality implementation, are included as a part of a license and service contract.

Program Outcomes

The impacts of Tutoring with the Lightning Squad were examined in a cluster randomized study that took place across 23 schools with a diverse population. The study focused on 390 students in grades 2 and 3 who were performing in the lowest 33rd percentile of their grade on standardized measures. Students randomly assigned to the group of students to be tutored using Tutoring with the Lightning Squad (the Intent to Treat sample) had significantly higher scores on the Word Attack scale scores from the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test compared to the control group (ES = +0.18), qualifying Tutoring with the Lighting Squad for an ESSA “Strong” rating. The average effect size across measures was +0.07.

Due to the research design, and continuing pandemic quarantine requirements that were in effect during the study period, more than a quarter of the students assigned to tutoring were not offered tutoring.  An analysis of students receiving an adequate dose of tutoring showed marginally significant results for third graders on the NWEA MAP (effect size = +0.27.). A survey of principals, site coordinators, and teachers indicated strongly positive reactions to the program.

Staffing Requirements

Success for All Foundation supports tutors hired by schools or community organizations to implement Tutoring with the Lightning Squad.

Professional Development/Training

Each school receives 1 onsite training day and 4 onsite support sessions through the first year of implementation. In years 2 and beyond, each school receives 3 days of onsite support.


Computers and broadband are required.