Struggling Reader to Struggling Reader: High School Students' Responses to a Cross-Age Tutoring Program

Document Type


Publication Date



This qualitative study examines the perceptions and responses of struggling ninth-grade readers who are teaching reading to struggling second- and third-grade students in a cross-age tutoring program. The program was designed to overcome the entrenched, negative affective barriers that older students often bring to the required reading class by placing them in a leadership role. It also intended simultaneously to improve their vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Results indicate that the older students developed strong mirroring relationships with their younger counterparts based on shared community strengths and norms, shifted their perspective to see themselves as increasingly competent role models, and applied their developing reading abilities as they selected and modified strategies based on the needs of their younger students. Important implications for literacy teachers include a clearer understanding of the powerful, positive attitudinal effects of a well-planned, low-cost tutoring program that provides authentic opportunities for literacy learning for all students involved.