A lasting legacy of evidence-based tutoring

It is with sadness that we share the news that former Board Chair John Clarey recently passed away. For those who knew John, he was committed to advancing the mission of East Side Learning Center for many years. Clarey's obituary states that he lived by the "Code of the West," something we witnessed while working with him. For example, he did what was right, avoided doing what was wrong, protected the weak, and was grateful and generous with both his time, talents, and resources. His Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, May 1st from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Minnesota Institute of American Art, 350 Robert St. N., St. Paul. 

John and I had a conversation last year about ways to make the case for giving to ESLC. He told me that he and ESLC's founding Executive Director, Sr. Audrey Lindenfelser, SSND, worked together on the Wilder Research study. He felt that this was his greatest contribution to the organization's sustainability because it proved that the program changed lives. 

Wilder's background research revealed that ESLC was already incorporating evidence-based practices into its tutoring program. The research study, "Evaluation of the East Side Learning Center tutoring program," demonstrated a strong relationship between hours tutored and meeting reading growth targets. Indeed, this study demonstrated that 40 was the minimum number of tutoring sessions required for a child to "catch-up" to grade-level reading. Since that time, ESLC has used 30 hours or 40 sessions as the minimum tutoring dosage to be included in outcome reports. 

The study also demonstrated that students in ESLC's tutoring program made "significant progress" on the three reading measures of the SAT10 test, reading, vocabulary, and comprehension. However, over the same two-year period, their SPPS counterparts made significant progress on only one area of literacy. Specifically, the study states: 

  • "ESLC students made significantly larger gains in total reading between pretest and second post-test;" and
  • "ESLC students appeared to make substantially larger gains in reading comprehension..."

To catch-up in reading by third grade, children who are behind must acquire new skills at a faster pace than their peers. The study revealed that multi-year participation may be necessary to accelerate reading growth enough for students to catch-up if they are behind in first, second, or third grades. Students who participated a second year were significantly more likely to outperform non-tutored peers. 

As I reread the study, it has become more apparent that ESLC continues to find ways to improve reading growth. This is due, in part, to the investment of John Clarey, who worked with Sr. Audrey so ESLC could demonstrate its effectiveness while practicing continuous improvement and more importantly, focusing on increasing each child's foundational reading skills.  

Thank you John (and wife, Robyn) for contributing to the work of East Side Learning Center in advancing our mission of "Unlocking each child’s potential through the foundation of reading." You made a lasting difference for more than 4,000 children to date, and the number increases every year! We thank you for your legacy!