Energy Express is a West Virginia University Extension summer program that provides services to children living in rural West Virginia in either a five- or six-week format. In 2019, this program has served 79 low-income communities, with participants ranging from kindergarteners to incoming sixth graders. The focus of the program is to promote school success by setting both nutritional and scholastic goals for the program each year.

Study Goals:
The goal of the study is to determine the effectiveness of the Energy EExpress program with respect to helping the participants maintain or improve their scores on reading achievement tests over the summer. This result is important given the evidence that shows a particularly steep learning loss for low-income children as a result of out-of-school-time.

Research Questions:
The research questions are:

  • Do children that participate in Energy Express maintain their reading skills throughout the summer?
  • Do children that participate in Energy Express increase their reading skills throughout the summer?
  • To what extent do Energy Express's participating children increase their reading skill?
  • Do children that do not participate in Energy Express experience the effects of the "summer slide" and thereby not maintain reading skills throughout the summer?

The evaluation found the following:

  • A comparison of the Broad Reading composite, which is an indicator of general achievement, showed a significant positive effect of the program. Of the children that participated, 68.7% maintained (4.2%) or improved (64.5%) their scores on reading achievement over the course of the Energy Express 2019 session. This rate of improvement is highly significant (p < 0.001).
  • Children performed better in Letter/Word Recognition with 69.0% either maintaining (4.8%) or improving (64.3%) their scores.
  • Children performed better in Passage Comprehension with 67.6% either maintaining (9.0%) or improving (58.6%). 

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Further information

Energy Express AmeriCorps
Implementing Organization
West Virginia University Research Corp

West Virginia Commission

AmeriCorps Program(s)
AmeriCorps State and National
Age(s) Studied
6-12 (Childhood)
Outcome Category
K-12 success
Study Design(s)
Quasi-experimental (QED)
Level of Evidence
Ben Edmonds, Ph.D., Emeritus Faculty, Indiana University
Published Year
Study Site Location (State)
West Virginia