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Future Forward Literacy – Attendance

Essa Rating
No. Studies
No. Students
Average Effect Size

Program Description

Future Forward is an early literacy intervention that provides a support system for kindergarten through third grade students struggling with reading that integrates one-on-one tutoring and family engagement. FF leverages a school-community-family partnership strategy to address the literacy needs of both students and families. Within FF program sites, each building has an assigned site manager, who is typically a certified teacher, and a family engagement coordinator (FEC). The site manager manages the tutoring activities, which includes the hiring of, generally paraprofessional, tutors to conduct one-on- one tutoring and coordinates with the school and teachers to schedule sessions around core instruction classes. The FEC is responsible for family outreach and communication, which involves monthly family events and ongoing contacts to help facilitate literacy development outside of school. The individual tutoring sessions vary based on the skills and interests of the students. Areas of focus during the sessions can include a focus on letter sounds, phonological awareness, shared readings, tutor read aloud, leveled/instructional readings, and writing activities. FF sites are expected to provide students with a minimum of three 30-minute tutoring sessions per week and to communicate with families at least two times per month.

Future Forward is a freestanding program, using customized curriculum and dedicated staff, with the full collaboration of school administrators and classroom teachers. Future Forward staff work with a child’s home and learning community toward the ultimate goal for all students to read at grade level by the end of third grade.

Program Outcomes

A two-year randomized evaluation of Future Forward (formerly SPARK) Literacy in the Milwaukee Public Schools by Jones and his colleagues (2018) tested the impact across three domains: reading achievement, literacy, and school attendance. Students in grades K-3 who were assigned to SPARK had significantly fewer absences (average daily attendance) than controls (effect size = +0.19).

A one-year randomized study of Future Forward (Jones & Li, 2021) during the 2019-2020 school year also found significant impacts on student attendance (ES = +0.13), even though pandemic-related school closures interrupted the full year implementation of the program.

In a small study examining the impacts of Future Forward implemented across a single semester during the 2021-2022 school year, no significant impacts on student absences were found (ES = 0.00).

Across these three included studies, two found significant impacts in randomized studies, qualifying Future Forward for the ESSA “Strong” category.

Staffing Requirements

Depends on number of children served per school. Working with an average of 30 highest-need struggling readers per elementary school requires 1 Program Manager, 1 Family Engagement Coordinator, and 6.5 FTE tutors.

Professional Development/Training

Not stated


Computers and internet required for virtual implementation. No student technology required for in person implementation.