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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

HELPS Literacy Tutoring

By Benay Hicks February 10, 2022

Book Harvest’s work stems from three main objectives: books for every child, support for every parent, and literacy for every community. In addition to ensuring that children have abundant access to books and that families have support to build home learning environments, we also work to create a culture of literacy throughout the community.

Book Harvest is able to expand its community work thanks to funding from the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) Competitive Grant Program. Book Harvest’s ELISS programming, “Reconnective with Reading: Post-COVID Recovery” is a multi-tiered, evidence-based program for Durham Public Schools (DPS) students in grades K – 5. This programming is a continuation of, and improvement upon, the work we completed in the fall of 2020 with funds received from our previous ELISS grant.

The intensive wrap-around program model is designed to improve targeted students’ reading proficiency by:

  1. Increasing students’ reading fluency.

  2. Increasing students’ motivation to read.

  3. Increasing the amount of time students read independently at school, at home, and over the subsequent summer months.

Book Harvest is actively implementing three evidence-based activities during the 2021/2022 school year at four elementary schools in the Durham Public School system (CC Spaulding, Fayetteville Street, Glenn, and WG Pearson). One of the three activities is one-on-one tutoring. To provide this, Book Harvest is working with Helps Education Fund to offer their reading fluency tutoring program, Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies (HELPS), to early elementary Durham Public School students.

The main purpose of HELPS is to strengthen students’ reading fluency and confidence as readers. HELPS has been rigorously researched and validated to improve students’ reading fluency, comprehension, and confidence.

Tutors are trained in a 3.5 hour training session with certified HELPS trainers. They also engage in a 1:1 mock session where they practice implementing HELPS. Upon completing the training, each tutor implements HELPS with 3 students at least 3x/week for 15-20 minutes; tutors commit to approximately 5 hours of tutoring per week, for an estimated total of 4,375 hours.

Tutors are actively being hired, starting immediately, and the work will be conducted April 30, 2022.

Who is Helps Education Fund?

Helps Education Fund is a nonprofit organization that focuses on improving educational equity by providing research-supported programs and services that are free or low-cost and meaningfully advance student learning.

What is HELPS?

The Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies (HELPS) Program is one of several programs offered by Helps Education Fund. HELPS is an evidence based, research validated intervention that is proven to build students’ fluency reading skills. It is a highly structured program that can be easily delivered by trained tutors. It is estimated that HELPS has been used with more than a million students throughout the United States and in more than 60 countries around the world.

What is fluency and why is it important?

Fluency is reading with speed, accuracy and proper expression. Reading fluency is one of five essential skills a student must acquire to become a successful reader and is directly related to reading comprehension. Mastering text reading fluency is a significant component of improving students’ learning and opportunity. However, millions of students still need support with their reading fluency.


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