Data Spotlight Award Winner: The Literacy Lab


The Literacy Lab is a nonprofit that provides low-income children (from age 3 to 3rd graders) with individual reading instruction, leading to greater success in school and increased opportunities in life.


  • Every child is prepared for kindergarten


According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, in Washington, DC, 77% of 4th grade students read below grade level. Reading proficiency levels in DC Public Schools can be as low as 9% at a school in a low-income neighborhood or as high as 87% in the city's most affluent communities (according to 2014 DC-CAS results), demonstrating the extreme disparities in educational opportunities and achievement for DC students.


In 2013, The Literacy Lab launched the Metro DC Reading Corps, an early literacy intervention program that places rigorously-trained, full-time literacy tutors in DC's highest-need schools to improve 3rd grade reading proficiency, a key indicator of high school graduation.

The Metro DC Reading Corps collects student data through weekly progress monitoring and three annual benchmark assessments. Benchmarks are used to identify students for service and to measure growth. Tutors record the data weekly into a proprietary database that integrates scores from students’ assessments and weekly progress monitoring checks to generate individual student progress graphs that chart growth against a grade-level aim line. During a monthly data review meeting, the team reviews these graphs to decide if a change in approach is necessary or whether to "graduate" a student if they surpass the next benchmark target for three to five weeks in a row.

The Corps also collects tutor data to ensure that every tutor implements the assessments and interventions with fidelity. Once interventions begin, coaches observe each tutor with students at least twice per month and use intervention observation checklists to monitor performance. Additionally, tutors are evaluated with a fidelity rating for each intervention delivered.


In the 2013-2014 school year, 72% of participants achieved growth rates that put them on track for 3rd grade reading proficiency; none of these children were on track for this milestone at the beginning of the program year. Nine weeks into the 2014-2015 school year, more than twice as many pre-K students met standardized literacy expectations in Literacy Lab classrooms, as compared to nonparticipating classes. And by June 2015, 50% of kindergarten participants reached their grade level in reading.