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Programs that Work

Reading Recovery


Program Info
Program Overview
Program Participants
Evaluation Methods
Key Evaluation Findings
Probable Implementers
Funding
Implementation Detail
Issues to Consider
Example Sites
Contact Information
Available Resources
Bibliography
Last Reviewed

 

Program Info

Outcome Areas
Children Succeeding in School

Indicators
Students performing at grade level or meeting state curriculum standards

Topic Areas

     Age of Child
       Early Childhood (0-8)
     Type of Setting
       Elementary School
     Type of Service
       Instructional Support
     Type of Outcome Addressed
       Cognitive Development / School Performance

Evidence Level  (What does this mean?)
Proven

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Program Overview

Reading Recovery is an early literacy intervention designed to help first-grade children who are having difficulty learning to read and write. Developed by Marie M. Clay in the 1970s in New Zealand and introduced in the United States in 1984, the goal of Reading Recovery is to prevent literacy failure. A diagnostic survey is used in conjunction with input from the classroom teacher to identify at-risk children. The lowest literacy achievers work individually with a specially trained teacher for 30 minutes daily for 12-20 weeks until the student's reading performance level reaches the average level of his or her class. Approximately 75 percent reach this level, at which point lessons are discontinued ("discontinued" status). For children who do not reach the average level of their class, a team of professionals offers positive recommendations for future action.

In addition to the diagnostic survey and individual tutoring, Reading Recovery offers professional development to teachers. University trainers, site-based teacher leaders, and school-based teachers all engage in initial training for an academic year and ongoing professional development in subsequent years. Training involves working with children—analyzing reading and writing behaviors and relating those behaviors to theories of literacy learning. Professional learning also includes attention to the implementation of Reading Recovery in a school or district setting.

Reading Recovery is also available in Spanish, known as Descubriendo la Lectura, for children whose classroom literacy instruction is in Spanish.

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Program Participants

Reading Recovery is designed for first-graders who are having difficulty learning to read and write. The intervention is targeted at the lowest literacy achievers in regular first-grade classrooms.

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Evaluation Methods

Schwartz (2005) examined the Reading Recovery intervention as implemented by 47 Reading Recovery teachers across 14 states. Teachers participating in the study were already implementing Reading Recovery. Participants volunteered for the study and were not necessarily representative of the national population of teachers implementing Reading Recovery. After obtaining parental consent for their students to participate in the study, each of the 47 teachers chose two low-performing readers to participate. A web program randomly assigned one of these students to the first round of Reading Recovery implementation and the other to the second round of Reading Recovery implementation.

Prior to the intervention and then again following the first round of Reading Recovery, teachers assessed the literacy skills of students from both groups. They used An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (the "Observation Survey," Clay, 2002, 2005), a diagnostic test developed by the Reading Recovery program developer (see the Issues to Consider section for more information).

The Observation Survey comprises six subtests:

  • Running Record of Text Reading (Text Level)

  • Letter Identification

  • Concepts About Print

  • Word Reading (Ohio Word Test)

  • Writing Vocabulary

  • Hearing and Recording Sounds in Words.



The two groups were not different on any of the above measures of reading ability prior to the intervention. Additionally, teachers assessed students following the first round of intervention using the following standardized instruments:

  • Phoneme Segmentation Test

  • Deletion Task (syllable and phoneme deletion)

  • Slosson Oral Reading Test

  • Degrees of Reading Power Test (reading comprehension).



Both the first- and second-round students were provided with regular classroom literacy instruction throughout the school year. The first-round students participated in the Reading Recovery intervention during the first half of the school year. The intervention lasted up to 20 weeks, or until the student met the Reading Recovery "discontinuing" criteria, whichever came first. Discontinuing criteria indicate that lessons can be discontinued because the child has reached the average level of literacy performance in his or her classroom, has demonstrated use of reading strategies (based on an analysis of reading behaviors when reading continuous text), and is expected to continue to make literacy progress beyond the end of the intervention. First-round students who were not deemed to have successfully terminated the intervention were nevertheless included in the study sample. First-round students were compared at the end of their Reading Recovery intervention with the second-round students who had not yet received the intervention.

While 47 teachers initially volunteered, only data from 37 teachers were included in the analyses. Some students were excluded from the analyses due to incomplete data resulting from study attrition or improper data collection on the part of the teacher. When one student moved or otherwise left the sample, both students for that Reading Recovery teacher were excluded from analysis to obviate issues arising from any teacher-specific effects on outcomes.

There have been many additional evaluations of Reading Recovery conducted in the United States. However, only the Schwartz (2005) study meets the PPN evidence criteria.

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Key Evaluation Findings

The group of students receiving the first round of Reading Recovery was shown to have improved significantly on all of the Observation Survey measures, compared with the group of second-round students who had not yet received the intervention. These included the following measures:

  • Running Record of Text Reading (Text Level): improved by 19.24 times in the intervention group and 6.34 times in the control group.

  • Concepts About Print: improved by 77 percent in the intervention group and 54 percent in the control group.

  • Letter Identification: improved by 18 percent in the intervention group and 17 percent in the control group.

  • Word Reading (Ohio Word Test): improved by 17.44 times in the intervention group and 9.69 times in the control group.

  • Writing Vocabulary: improved by 13.75 times in the intervention group and 6.49 times in the control group.

  • Hearing and Recording Sounds in Words: improved by 4.60 times in the intervention group and 2.91 times in the control group.



Additionally, students in the first round performed significantly better on the Slosson Oral Reading Test at the end of the first-round intervention compared with second-round students, achieving scores 68 percent higher than those in the control group (no baseline measurement was taken).

There were no significant differences across groups on the following measures:

  • Phoneme Segmentation Test

  • Deletion Task (syllable and phoneme deletion)

  • Degrees of Reading Power Test (reading comprehension).


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Probable Implementers

School educators, administrators, and school district personnel.

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Funding

Reading Recovery interventions may be funded federally as part of the Title I Reading program, from other Elementary and Secondary Education Act titles (professional development, migrant children, English language learners, and others), and from the budgets of state and local school systems. The U.S. Department of Education has funded the scale-up of Reading Recovery in the United States with a five-year (2010-2015) Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant: http://www.i3.readingrecovery.info/qualifying.html

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Implementation Detail

Program Design

  • Early intervention supplemental to regular reading and writing instruction in the first grade.

  • One-to-one tutoring that adjusts to each child's individual needs.

  • Lessons involving both reading and writing.

  • Ongoing training and teacher support.

  • Data collected and reported for each child participating in Reading Recovery.


Curriculum

While lessons are individually designed and delivered for each child, tutorial sessions typically include six activities. First, the child reads some familiar books. Second, he or she reads the previous day's new text while the teacher takes a running record. Third, there is letter and word work. Fourth, the child composes and writes a message or story. Fifth, the child reconstructs his or her story that has been cut in parts by the teacher. Finally, the child reads a new text. Throughout the session, the teacher keeps a lesson record of the child's work and strategic behaviors, which is used in planning the next day's lesson.

Staffing

There are three levels of staffing in Reading Recovery: university trainers, site-based teacher leaders, and school-based teachers. Teacher leaders go through a full year of graduate-level training at a university center recognized by the North American Trainers Group. The courses cover Reading Recovery teaching procedures, theory, and implementation processes.

Reading Recovery teachers also commit to an academic year of graduate-level training led by a registered teacher leader. The course uses clinical and peer-critiquing experiences to develop the skills necessary for Reading Recovery teaching. For example, during most of the weekly sessions the teachers take turns—one teaching a child while the rest observe on the other side of a one-way mirror and articulate child behaviors and teaching decisions—followed by an analysis of the lesson. Reading Recovery teachers work with children during the training year; courses are generally after the school day so that service to children is concurrent with training.

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Issues to Consider

Reading Recovery received a "proven" rating, indicating that it used a rigorous research design to show that the observed impact on reading skills was likely due to the Reading Recovery intervention. It must be noted, however, that the main measure of reading success, An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (Clay, 2002, 2005), was designed by the individuals who developed Reading Recovery. There is some evidence that a relationship exists between the measures that were used and the intervention itself, suggesting that what is taught is what gets measured (Shanahan and Barr, 1995). Schwarz (2005) did use standardized tests in addition to the Clay Observation Survey. Three of the four of these standardized tools showed no significant difference between Reading Recovery children and the comparison group.

It should be noted that in the Schwartz (2005) study, the participating teachers volunteered to participate in the study. These teachers might be different from the typical teacher implementing Reading Recovery, and likewise the classrooms might be different from the typical classrooms implementing Reading Recovery. Evaluation data on every child receiving the Reading Recovery intervention are available on the International Data Evaluation Center website: www.idecweb.us.

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Example Sites

Reading Recovery was first implemented in the United States in several schools in Columbus, Ohio, and then expanded statewide. Since 1984, the intervention has been implemented in most of the states in the United States and provinces in Canada. Reading Recovery continues implementations in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

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Contact Information

Jady Johnson
Executive Director
Reading Recovery Council of North America
500 West Wilson Bridge Road, Suite 250
Worthington, OH 43085
614-310-READ (7323)
Fax: 614-310-7345
Website: www.readingrecovery.org and www.readingrecoveryworks.org
E-mail: jjohnson@readingrecovery.org

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Available Resources

Reading Recovery Council of North America
A not-for-profit association, the Reading Recovery Council of North America (RRCNA) supports Reading Recovery and its implementation. The council's website is a rich resource of information about Reading Recovery. To contact the council:


Reading Recovery Council of North America
500 West Wilson Bridge Road, Suite 250
Worthington, OH 43085
614-310-READ (7323)
Fax: 614-310-7345
Website: www.readingrecovery.org and www.readingrecoveryworks.org


North American Trainers Group
The North American Trainers Group supports the collaborative work of Reading Recovery trainers at recognized university training centers. These centers provide Reading Recovery training as well as technical support to teacher leaders, teachers, and school administrators. A list of university training centers and contacts is posted on the RRCNA website.

International Data Evaluation Center
The International Data Evaluation Center (IDEC) at The Ohio State University collects data on every Reading Recovery child, analyzes outcomes, and reports findings at multiple levels. A national report is available annually. The IDEC website provides information about evaluation of Reading Recovery. To contact IDEC:

The Ohio State University
International Data Evaluation Center
1100 Kinnear Road, Suite 126
Columbus, OH 43212

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Bibliography

Baenen, Nancy, Alissa Bernhole, Chuck Dulaney, and Karen Banks, "Reading Recovery: Long-Term Progress After Three Cohorts,"  Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk,  Vol. 2, No. 2, 1997, p. 161. 

Burroughs-Lange, Sue, and Julia Douëtil, "Literacy Progress of Young Children from Poor Urban Settings: A Reading Recovery Comparison Study,"  Literacy Teaching and Learning,  Vol. 12, No. 1, 2007, pp. 19-46. 

Center, Yola, Kevin Wheldall, Louella Freeman, Lynne Outhred, and Margaret McNaught, "An Evaluation of Reading Recovery,"  Reading Research Quarterly,  Vol. 30, 1995, pp. 240-263. 

Chapman, James W., William E. Tunmer, and Jane E. Prochnow, "Does Success in the Reading Recovery Program Depend on Developing Proficiency in Phonological-Processing Skills? A Longitudinal Study in a Whole Language Instructional Context,"  Scientific Studies of Reading,  Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 141-176. 

Clay, Marie,  An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement,  2nd ed., Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2002. 

Clay, Marie,  An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement,  revised 2nd ed. with new U.S. norms, Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2005. 

Iversen, Sandra, William E. Tunmer, and James W. Chapman, "The Effects of Varying Group Size on the Reading Recovery Approach to Preventive Early Intervention,"  Journal of Learning Disability,  Vol., 38, September/October 2005, pp. 456-472. 

Iverson, Sandra, and William E. Tunmer, "Phonological Processing Skills and the Reading Recovery Program,"  Journal of Educational Psychology,  Vol. 85, 1993, pp. 112-125. 

Pinnell, Gay Su, Carol A. Lyons, Diane E. DeFord, Anthony S. Bryk, and Michael Seltzer, "Comparing Instructional Models for the Literacy Education of High-Risk First Graders,"  Reading Research Quarterly,  Vol. 29, No. 1, 1994, pp. 9-38. 

Pinnell, Gay Su, Diane E. DeFord, and Carol A. Lyons,  Reading Recovery: Early Intervention for At-Risk First Graders (Educational Research Service Monograph).  Arlington, Va.: Educational Research Service, 1988. 

Schwartz, Robert M., "Literacy Learning of At-Risk First-Grade Students in the Reading Recovery Early Intervention,"  Journal of Educational Psychology,  Vol. 97, No. 2, 2005, pp. 257-267. 

Shanahan, Timothy, and Rebecca Barr, "Reading Recovery: An Independent Evaluation of the Effects of an Early Instructional Intervention for At-Risk Learners,"  Reading Research Quarterly,  Vol. 30, No. 4, 1995, pp. 958-996. 

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Last Reviewed

March 2013

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