Reading Recovery

Use your materials (and especially the “Checklist of guidelines for evaluating research and research claims.”) to critically examine the following article.

Answer the embedded questions.

Emphasis in boldface and underline is added.

Hints and questions are inserted in brackets and boldface.

Reading Recovery

A Research-Based Intervention

Reading Recovery has a strong scientific research base. [Means what? Where is it?] Data collection and dissemination is carried out by the Reading Recovery National Data Evaluation Center (NDEC) at The Ohio State University. NDEC collects data from every Reading Recovery site in the United States each year. [Is it a good idea for advocates to collect data on themselves? Any possible problems from this?] NDEC provides technical results annually for the United States and sends results packets to be used by each school-based teacher training site and university training center in evaluating the effectiveness of their implementation of Reading Recovery. The raw data collected and disseminated by NDEC also allows researchers at universities around the country to conduct additional program evaluation and research.

  • The structure and design of Reading Recovery are consistent with a substantial body of researchon reading and writing behaviors that originated in the 1960s and continues today. [Whose research? You can always find (cherry pick) research to support what you believe.]
  • Reading Recovery research uses systematic and empirical methods to collect dataannually on all children receiving the service. [Means what?] Data are collected systematically at three points throughout the school year (entry to program, exit from program, and end of school year). [Is this often enough?]Additionally, data are collected for comparison purposes at the beginning and end of the school year on a random sample of children who did not receive the intervention. [Size? Where from?]
  • Reading Recovery uses systematic and simultaneous replication studies to document program outcomes for all children served, adhering to standardized methods, instruments, and time lines across all schools, school districts, training sites, and states. These studies show that the replication of Reading Recovery across time and location has been remarkably consistent. [Operational definitions?]

Reading Recovery research is reported in numerous peer-reviewed research articles or research reviews that offer support for various aspects of Reading Recovery.

Adapted from "Reading Recovery and the Definition of Scientifically Based Research," RRCNA Fact Sheet; and Smith-Burke, M. et al. (2002). A Principal's

Guide to Reading Recovery. Columbus, OH:

Reading Recovery Council of North America.

Reading Recovery Student Outcomes: 2003-2004

During the 2002-2003 school year, Reading Recovery served 4,207 struggling first graders across Massachusetts. [Means what? Consistently defined?]These children were taught by522 highly trained Reading Recovery teachers, [Means what ? Consistently defined?]who were in turn supported by 20 Teacher Leaders across the state. The Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative provides ongoing training, professional development and support to these Teacher Leaders. [Means what? Consistently defined?]

The extensive training and professional development Reading Recovery teachers and Teacher Leaders receive translates into results for Reading Recovery children. Of the 4,207 children who participated in the intervention in Massachusetts in the 2003-2004 school year, over 60% of them successfully completed the intervention, having reached average levels of literacy performance. [Is the average level a definition of success? Average for what? A class? School? District? What if the average is poor reading? Should there be an external standard or criterion for “success”?] Of the children who had the opportunity to receive a full program of instruction (up to 20 weeks), nearly 80% completed the program successfully. [What does ‘had the opportunity’ mean? Were some dropped? If so, were they students who were NOT being successful? If so, does this bias the outcome data?]These are impressive results for children who started the year as the lowest-achieving children in their class and had an average text reading level (TRL) of 1. [Are the results impressive if children who were NOT making progress were dropped?]

Successfully completedchildren were able to return to a mainstream classroom, where they continued to make progress independently in the areas of reading and writing. [Means what?]These children ended first grade with an average TRL of 19, a virtually indistinguishable score from that ofa random sample of non-Reading Recovery children in Reading Recovery schools. This outcome shows amazing growth, considering where these children began first grade.[Extraneous variables? Not mentioned. These children were also receiving instruction in class. Some may have had home tutoring. Effects of these?] Even children who were recommended for additional assessment and those that received only a partial intervention showed significant growth, reaching text reading levels of 10 and 11, respectively.

Longer Term Effectiveness of Reading Recovery: Results on Standardized Tests

As a data driven education program, Reading Recovery research takes place on an ongoing basis at universities across the country. Recent studies have examined the longer-term effectiveness of Reading Recovery by tracking the performance of former Reading Recovery children on standardized tests. Researchers at LesleyUniversity have looked at student results on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS),. [Measures what? Does it measure exactly and only what RR teaches? If not, then passing may have nothing to do with RR.]finding that former Reading Recovery children pass the state-mandated standardized test at higher rates than the overall student population. [Is the RR sample representative ofthe overall population? What if there are a higher percentage of poor kids in the overall population than in RR? How would this affect that finding?]To read the study, click here. A study of children in Holyoke, MA, conducted by Massachusetts Teacher Leader Laurel Dickey, finds similar results to the statewide MCAS research study. Reading Recovery children pass the third grade MCAS exam at higher rates than the district as a whole. To read the press release, click here /crr/content/rr/holyoke_mcas_news.doc.

Such longer-term findings have been duplicated across the country. In a study of Reading Recovery students in Upstate New York, for instance, former Reading Recovery children were found to perform similarly to 4th graders across the state of New York on the 4th gradetest of English Language Arts. [RR is in first grade. Kids had 2 more years of classroom reading instruction before they got to grade 4. How can performance in grade 4 be attributed to RR in grade one?]Download the complete article here /crr/content/rr/jrr_article_spring_04.pdf. Researchers at EmporiaStateUniversity in Kansas have examined the performance of former Reading Recovery students on the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test, a nationally recognized test of literacy skills. The study ( concludes that the effect of Reading Recovery lasts at least through fourth grade. [Again, RR is in first grade. Kids had 2 more years of classroom reading instruction before they got to grade 4. How can performance in grade 4 be attributed to RR in grade one?]Scholars at the University of Iowa have also conducted research to examine the longer term effectiveness of the program and come to similarly positive conclusions. Using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), researchers found lasting effects among former Reading Recovery students. To read a summary of the Iowa study, click here. Reading Recovery has also been cited as the primary reason for such high rates of passing among fourth graders on Maine's state-mandated standardized test,as reported in an October 2003 article in the Bangor News. [Is a citation good evidence?]

Closing the Achievement Gap

Using statewide data from the 2002-2003 school year,we conducted research on the impact of Reading Recovery on first graders from various racial, ethnic, and gender groups. We found thatReading Recovery was highly successful across all groups, and by the end of first grade, successful Reading Recovery children lookedno different than their average performing peers. [Again success is defined by becoming average. What if the average is low. Is that success? If an intervention is “highly effective,” shouldn’t performance be higher than average?]Sadly by the spring, we began to see ethnic and gender achievement gaps developing among average performers, where they had not existed in the fall. To read the full study, click here /crr/content/rr/achievement_gap_complete_ms.doc. This research was presented at the 2004 Literacy For All Northeast K-6 Literacy Conference and Reading Recovery Institute, held in Providence, Rhode Island. To view the presentation, click here /crr/content/rr/narrowing_the_literacy_divide.ppt. It is currently under journal Review.

Reading Recovery and English Language Learners

Through a generous grant from the Reading Recovery Council of North America, we were able to study the effectiveness of Reading Recovery on English Language Learners versus native English speakers on both Reading Recovery and non-Reading Recovery measures. Examining the linguistically diverse district of Fall River, Massachusetts, we found that the intervention tended to work[Would you use medicine that “tended to work”?]as well for English Language Learners as for native speakers. To read the full study, click here /crr/content/rr/ell_journal_write_up.doc. This research was presented at the 2005 Massachusetts Reading Association's Annual Conference and is currently under journal review.

The Cost-Savings of Reading Recovery

Although the effectiveness of Reading Recovery is rarely disputed, [How many articles are critical? Are they merely ignored?]the cost of the intervention has frequently arisen as a factor in a school district's decision on whether or not to use Reading Recovery, given the extensive teacher training, professional development, and one-to-one nature of the intervention. A study of the Boston school district finds that the special education costs avoided because of Reading Recovery more than justifythe costs of the intervention. To read the study, click here /crr/content/rr/cost_savings_complete.doc. This research was presented at the 2005 LeadershipAcademy and Teacher Leader Institute in Washington, D.C. To view the presentation, click here /crr/content/rr/cost_savings.ppt.

[RR is used in grade one. If some students struggle in grade one, does this mean that THEY need remedial instruction or that the reading curriculum is probably not well-designed? Should this be tested before reading difficulties are attributed to children and not instruction? Should RR researchers consider this alternative explanation?]


You may use “Guidelines for Evaluating Research and Research Claims,” “Checklist of Guidelines for Evaluating Research and Research Claims,” “Vocabulary,” the article by Grossen (“What does it mean to be a research based profession?”), and other materials to construct your responses.

Part A. Make a list of questions that you would ask the authors and/or criticisms that you have of their article or the research that they report. For each criticism, state what the authors or researchers should do to increase the validity of the research and claims.

Part B. Design level 2 research to test the research hypothesis that RR is more effective than remedial instruction in the class, and the null hypothesis that RR is NOT more effective than remedial instruction in the class?