This is a structured, one-on-one tutoring and mentoring intervention that was designed to improve language arts skills among low-achieving students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The program is rated Promising. Students in the intervention group showed a statistically significant increase in their reading comprehension and overall reading quotient scores, compared with students in the comparison group. However, there were no significant differences in reading fluency scores.
Helping One Student to Succeed (HOSTS) is a structured, one-on-one tutoring and mentoring program. The goal is to improve students’ language arts skills, including reading, writing, vocabulary, thinking, and study skills. Secondary program goals include improved behavior, attitudes, and self-esteem.
Although the program was designed for students at risk of academic failure, in kindergarten through 12th grade, it focuses on struggling students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
HOSTS is intended to supplement curriculum being delivered in the classroom. It uses a web-based learning system to provide instructional material that matches students’ needs and aligns with state and local standards. Personalized interventions are computer generated for each student based on an assessment of his/her literacy strengths and weaknesses, developmental level, learning style, interests, and available school resources. A HOSTS coordinator and an aide select from these tailored activities and resources to design weekly and daily lesson plans for each student, which are carried out by the volunteer mentor/tutor.
Volunteer mentors/tutors are expected to establish a positive relationship with the students and to use modeling and positive reinforcement to teach skills. In addition, they are encouraged to help students relate the skills they are learning to their life experiences and to self-evaluate and reflect on the lessons learned. Mentors/tutors and students meet for 30-minute sessions Monday through Thursday; a student may have a different tutor each day. A typical session involves oral reading, skill development, vocabulary development, reading comprehension, and writing. The coordinator monitors sessions and provides feedback to mentors/tutors. Mentors/tutors also make notes on students’ performances during each session. The coordinator then uses this information, and feedback from the classroom teacher, in preparing each student's instructional plan for the following week.
Required personnel usually include a half- or full-time program coordinator, who may be a certified teacher and/or reading specialist, and a paraprofessional to serve as a program aide. Volunteer mentors/tutors are recruited from the community, and may include business owners, church members, police officers, university students, and retirees. In some communities, high school students may also serve as volunteer mentors/tutors.
Through the use of volunteer mentors/tutors who help engage students in developmental and academic activities, to enable them to acquire the necessary skills to improve their academic performance and behavior, the program goals are consistent with positive youth development models (Benson, Scales, Hamilton, and Sesma 2006).
Burns and colleagues (2004) found no significant differences in posttest reading fluency scores between students in the Helping One Student to Succeed (HOSTS) intervention group and comparison group.
Students in the HOSTS intervention group had higher reading comprehension scores at posttest, compared with students in the comparison group. The associated effect size indicated a statistically significant impact of a small magnitude.
Students in the intervention group had higher reading quotient scores at posttest, compared with students in the comparison group. The associated effect size indicated a statistically significant impact of a small magnitude.
Burns, Senesac, and Symington (2004) investigated the effects of the Helping One Student to Succeed (HOSTS) program in a quasi-experimental study among elementary school students in Michigan. Study sites included five elementary schools that were randomly selected from schools participating in the HOSTS program. Schools were selected from four clusters corresponding to total student enrollment: fewer than 2,000, between 2,000 and 5,000, between 5,000 and 9,999, and 10,000 or more students. In addition, one charter school was randomly selected from all charter schools in Michigan. Four elementary schools not participating in the HOSTS program served as additional study sites. These schools, which were similar to intervention schools in school size, percentage of students receiving free or reduced price lunch, average student- to-teacher ratio, and percentage of students who passed the fourth grade tests from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), were selected to serve as the comparison group.
The intervention schools had an average of 388 students and an average student-to-teacher ratio of 21.43, whereas comparison schools had an average of 321 students and an average student-to-teacher ratio of 20.55. Additionally, 52.87 percent of students at intervention schools received free or reduced-price lunch, and 48.55 percent passed the MEAP; whereas 48.50 percent of students at comparison schools received free or reduced price lunch, and 43.18 percent passed the MEAP. No significant differences were found between the intervention and comparison groups on baseline characteristics. All students in kindergarten through fourth grade at intervention and comparison schools who scored below the 25th percentile on district reading tests were considered eligible for the HOSTS program and invited to participate in the study; however, students at comparison schools who were participating in special education services were not eligible.
A total of 257 students (129 in the intervention schools and 127 in the comparison schools) completed data collection at pretest and posttest (5 months later). In the intervention group, 45 percent of students were female, 72.9 percent were white, 24.8 were black, and 2.3 percent were Hispanic. In the comparison group, 50.4 percent of students were female, 55.1 percent were white, 41.7 percent were black, and 3.1 percent were Hispanic.
Scores for reading fluency and reading comprehension were obtained using the Gray Oral Reading Test (GORT-4) by Wiederholt and Bryant (2001), and scores for overall reading quotient were obtained using the Test of Early Reading Ability for kindergarten students (Reid et al. 1989) or the GORT-4 for first through fourth grade students. ANCOVA was used to assess differences in outcome measures at posttest between intervention and comparison groups, controlling for pretest scores. The study authors did not conduct any subgroup analyses.
The site licensing for the program, including training, consultant support, and annual database upgrades, costs approximately $30,000 per year per school. Although this program can serve 40 to 70 students, the per-pupil cost is also affected by the availability of volunteer mentors/tutors.
The Helping One Student to Succeed (HOSTS) program can be tailored to correspond to differing perspectives on reading instruction and curricular models. Furthermore, the web-based system provides links to more than 250 educational publishers’ instructional materials and more than 16,000 individual lessons that correlate to state and local standards.
The program coordinator and aide receive 2 days of initial training on how to use the HOSTS program, which addresses items such as reading assessment strategies and individualizes lesson plans with strategies for a balance of literature, and parental involvement. Onsite technical assistance, telephone and online support from consultants, and twice-yearly regional workshops may also be provided to program sites. Volunteer mentors/tutors initially receive 2 hours of training by the program coordinator on ways to establish a positive relationship with the student and strategies for teaching a lesson. Additional training may be provided during the year as needed
Other Information (Including Subgroup Findings)
Midyear scores for initial sound fluency for students in kindergarten, for phoneme segmentation fluency and non-word fluency for students in kindergarten and first grade, and for oral reading fluency for students in second and third grade were obtained using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (Kaminski and Good 1998). Burns and colleagues (2004) found greater initial sound fluency and oral reading fluency scores at posttest for students in the intervention group, compared with students in the comparison group, controlling for pretest scores on the corresponding measures, but not for phoneme segmentation fluency and non-word fluency.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Burns, Matthew K., Barbara V. Senesac, and Todd Symington. 2004. “The Effectiveness of the HOSTS Program in Improving the Reading Achievement of Children At-Risk for Reading Failure.” Reading Research and Instruction
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:
Burns, Matthew K., Barbara V. Senesac, and Benjamin Silberglitt. 2008. “Longitudinal Effects of a Volunteer Tutoring Program on Reading Skills of Students Identified as At-Risk for Reading Failure: A Two-Year Follow-Up Study.” Literacy Research and Instruction
Benson, Peter L., Peter Scales, Stephen Hamilton, and Arturo Sesma. 2006. “Positive Youth Development: Theory, Research, and Applications.” In R.M. Lerner. (ed.). Handbook of Child Psychology: Theoretical Models of Human Development. Volume 1
. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley & Sons, 894–941.
Kaminski, Ruth. A., and Roland H. Good. 1998. “Assessing Early Literacy Skills in a Problem-Solving Model: Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills.” In M.R. Shinn (ed.). Advanced Applications of Curriculum-Based Measurement.
New York: Guilford, 113–42.
Reid, Kim D., Wayne O. Hresko, and Donald D. Hammill. 1989. Test of Early Reading Ability (2nd ed.).
Austin, Texas: PRO-ED.
Wiederholt, J. Lee, and Brian R. Bryant. 2001. Gray Oral Reading Test (4th ed.).
Austin, Texas: PRO-ED.