If you don’t teach elementary school—or even primary—you are probably thinking that this information may not pertain to you. I challenge you to read and learn……
Reading Recovery® has been wrongly branded as a ‘program’ for students that are struggling. Having recently returned from a Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery® Annual General Meeting, and having rich discussion with other Canadian Reading Recovery Administrators and Teacher Trainers, it has become apparent that to understand the impact that Reading Recovery has for struggling readers we CANNOT continue to refer to it as a program.
“Program” has the connotation that there are consumable resources. Reading Recovery does not come with such. Rather the expense is in the human resources. What makes the difference in this “intervention” is the training that the teachers receive. The strength in this is the fact that the training is ongoing, constantly being improved upon, as long as the teacher is a Reading Recovery teacher. The difference between Reading Recovery and other ‘programs’ is that the teacher makes the difference NOT the consumables that one would purchase for any other program.
So what is Reading Recovery ® as an Intervention then?
“Reading Recovery is a highly effective short-term intervention of daily one-to-one lessons that supplement good classroom teaching for the lowest-achieving first graders. The goal is to dramatically reduce the number of first-grade children with extreme difficulty learning to read and write and to reduce the cost of these learners to educational systems. The emphasis is on prevention of literacy failure” (RRCNA, 2002, p.5).
Reading Recovery was developed by a woman from New Zealand by the name of Marie Clay. It had been tested by numerous research projects in the 1970s and 1980s.
The intervention is based on Marie Clay’s research that was focused on the “formative years of literacy learning” (RRCNA, 2002). Marie studied literacy BEHAVIOURS of her young students as they “learned to read and write. “Her work led to what she called a literacy processing theory upon which Reading Recovery is based” (RRCNA, 2002).
What does a lesson with the Reading Recovery teacher and student involve?
The lessons include:
Reading familiar books
Reading new books while the teacher does a running record
Working with letters and words with magnetic letters
Assembling a cut up sentence
Reading new books
Each lesson is 30 minutes long and the teacher is constantly observing and recording the BEHAVIOUR of the child. The teacher is making moment by moment decisions to support this student. This is effective in determining what to do NEXT with the child.
Daily lessons run from 12—20 weeks depending on the progress of the child. This daily progress monitoring is RICH data for the RR teacher AND the classroom Teacher to use for the student.
Who are the students that receive Reading Recovery®?
“Reading Recovery is designed for children who are the lowest achievers in the class/age group. What is used is an inclusive definition. It has sometimes been argued to exclude this or that category of children or to save places for children who might seem to “benefit the most” but that is not using the full power ….. It has been one of the surprises of Reading Recovery® that all kinds of children with all kinds of difficulties can be included, can learn, and can reach average-band performance for their class in both reading and writing achievement” (Clay, 1991b, p. 60).
Full implementation (meaning that there are RR teachers to meet the needs of ALL children who require RR) of Reading Recovery is designed to serve the lowest achieving readers and writers in a grade one classroom regardless of:
- their ethnicity;
- whether they are ELL students;
- their intelligence;
- minor speech, visual and hearing difficulties;
- poor attendance and high mobility;
- emotional or behavior problems;
- or school history.
With partial implementation (which we currently have in GPPSD) all of the above are considered when examining the “Tentative Selection List”. This is the list of students that have been recommended for RR at a school site and where all of the initial assessment information from the Observation Survey are recorded. Students are then selected from this information.
What does Reading Recovery® tell us as a district?
All teachers benefit from knowing how Reading Recovery works. There are strategies, Professional Development and Professional Learning Community implications that ALL teachers benefit from learning in RR. The strength in this intervention is in how teachers observe and change their teaching to suit the needs of the students they are working with. Another strength is in how teachers meet regularly to WATCH each other teach, ask questions about the strategies they are using, ask each other what they think they can change or adjust to assist their students to learn more effectively.
The question is………… Why can’t we all do that? IMAGINE—where your students might go?
Reading Recovery has been examined by many “high quality experimental and quasi-experimental studies as well as numerous qualitative studies. Research studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals or are peer reviewed conference presentations” (RRCNA website).
Some of those can be found at: List of reviews
Principles to the Early Literacy Processing Theory
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.
RRCNA. (2002). A principal’s guide to reading recovery. Worthington, OH: RRCNA
Clay, M.M. (2006). Literacy lessons: designed for individuals, Pt 1. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Education.