Preliminary effects of a group-based tutoring program for children in long-term foster care
Background: Children in foster care are frequently behind in educational achievement (Flynn, Ghzal, Legault, Vandermeulen, & Petrick, 2004) and perform below grade level (Trout, Hagaman, Casey, Reid, & Epstein, 2008 for a review). Objective: This study evaluated the effectiveness of a direct instruction literacy and math program (“Teach Your Children Well”; TYCW) in a small-group format to educationally disadvantaged foster care children. Method: In the first year of this two-year study, 68 children in long-term foster care, between grades 2 and 8 inclusive, participated in this randomized control trial intervention. One-half of the children were randomly assigned to the 25-week experimental TYCW condition, while the other children served as waitlist controls. Children were assessed at baseline and post-intervention on reading decoding, spelling, sentence comprehension, and mathematic skills using an academic measure of functioning, the Wide Range Achievement Test Forth Edition (WRAT4). Results: Based on preliminary year one data, an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) demonstrated a statistically significant increase in standard scores on reading decoding and spelling skills for those in the tutoring condition, but statistical group differences were not obtained for mathematics or sentence comprehension. Meaningful effect size differences, in the small-to-moderate range, were found in favour of the tutoring intervention with respect to reading, spelling, and mathematics skill development. Discussion: Implications of the findings for improving the educational outcomes of foster children are provided.