YMCA Cross-Age Peer Tutoring Project


This work aims to improve outcomes of early readers through cross-age peer tutoring in the YMCA after-school program. Goals of this program include reducing learning gaps for students with reading difficulties, where effects of COVID-19 may have exacerbated this gap due to learning loss from schooling interruptions.

  • Phase I: Preparation for the randomized controlled trial with collaboration between The University of Texas at Austin and Vanderbilt University to partner with local YMCA after-school programs in Central Texas and Middle Tennessee
  • Phase 2: A randomized controlled trial to examine the efficacy of the Sound Partners (Vadasy et al., 2004) reading intervention delivered through cross-age peer tutoring of first- and second-grade students who experience reading difficulty by fourth- and fifth-grade student tutors

Sign-up begins in August. For more information, visit our recruiting page.

Learn more about our project by watching the video below.


  • Fully develop instructional cross-age peer tutoring for an after-school program model
  • Encourage literacy growth for students with reading difficulties
  • Reduce achievement gaps for students from low socioeconomic communities
  • Build in reading support for students from low-income homes

Project Design


Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Vanderbilt University will partner with YMCA after-school programs in Texas and Tennessee to implement and test for efficacy of a cross-age peer tutoring model using the Sound Partners reading intervention.


Year 1: Collaborate with YMCA of Central Texas and YMCA of Middle Tennessee to prepare YMCA after-school programs to effectively implement Sound Partners with cross-age peer tutors

Year 2: Conduct the randomized controlled trial for Cohort 1 in Texas and Tennessee

Year 3: Conduct the randomized controlled trial for Cohort 2 in Texas and Tennessee; collect follow-up data for students in Cohort 1

Year 4: Collect follow-up data for students in Cohort 2 and conduct data analysis for the fully powered study

Year 5: Disseminate results and program materials


Students from 69 schools that host YMCA programs (39 in Texas and 30 in Tennessee) will participate in this study. Pairings for cross-age peer tutoring will match first- and second-grade students with fourth- and fifth-grade students.