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Reading Recovery



Evidence of Effectiveness:


Reading Recovery is a rigorous research program that continuously monitors program results and provides support to participating teachers and institutions.  Data is collected on all students who participate in the program. 


Reading Recovery has been used extensively in several school districts within the State of Nevada, including Lyon County School District, Humboldt County School District, Pershing County School District, and Washoe County School District.  The following provides results received from Lyon County School District regarding the effect of Reading Recovery on student reading achievement, as well as results from other studies conducted around the country:


Lyon County School District, Nevada


Lyon County School District began implementation of the Reading Recovery program during the 1995-96 school year.  The following table provides the number of students served each year and the number/percentage of those students who successfully completed the program at the average reading level of their class:




School Year


# Students Served

# Students Successfully Completed

% Students Successfully Completed


















The following table provides information regarding the continued success of students who successfully completed Reading Recovery as first graders.  School year 2000-2001 fifth graders were the first group of students to participate in Reading Recovery in Lyon County.  As can be seen from the data, well over half of the students who were successful in first grade remain at the average of their classmates two, three, and four years later.  NOTE:  About half of the students who participated in the program as first graders are no longer in the school district; therefore, no data is available.



Fall 2000

Grade Level

# of Tested Students At  or Above the District Average in Reading

% of Tested Students At  or Above the District Average in Reading

Third Grade



Fourth Grade



Fifth Grade









Factors Affecting Progress in Reading:  Key Findings from a Longitudinal Study, Rowe (1995), Literacy, Teaching and Learning, 1 (2), pp. 57-100


The purpose of this study was to provide information over a four-year period about factors affecting students’ literacy development, with a particular focus on reading achievement, and to identify key factors affecting that development.  The sample included 5,092 students and 256 classes in 92 schools.  The longitudinal design involved repeated measures nested within classes/schools and repeated measures on schools.  The second design involved cross sections of students nested within schools that were changing over time.  The measures used for the study included:  Primary Reading Survey Test; Test of Reading Comprehension; English Profile; Reading Bands. 


Findings indicate that Reading Recovery (RR) students benefited notably from participation.  Some RR students were achieving beyond the 80th percentile level of their Non-RR peers.  Lower limits of the distribution for achievement measures were higher for RR students.  Gains of RR children seemed to have been sustained in Grades 5 and 6.


Ohio Fourth Grade Proficiency Results for Two Cohorts of Students – The Ohio State University


The purpose of this study was to determine the performance of former RR students on tests of proficiency at fourth grade.  Subjects for the study were students served by RR in 1991 (Reading Test N = 2,714; Writing Test N = 2,813) and in 1992 (Reading Test N = 2,994; Writing Test N = 3,002).  (NOTE:  Of all districts eligible for the study, 69% reported data).  The measure used for this study was the Ohio Test of Fourth Grade Proficiency. 


Findings indicate that for the 1991-92 cohort, 71% were at or above proficiency in reading and 75% in writing.  For the 1992-93 cohort, 76% were at or above proficiency in reading and 69% in writing. 


NOTE:  This study includes all children served by RR, not just discontinued students.


Summary of Other Findings From Reading Recovery Studies


·         Approximately 75-85 percent of the lowest 20 percent of children served by Reading Recovery achieved reading and writing scores in the average range of their class and received no additional supplemental instruction (Pinnell, DeFord, & Lyons, 1988; National Diffusion Network, 1993; Swartz, Shook, & Hoffman, 1993).


·         The progress in reading and writing made by children in Reading Recovery is sustained and their performance in the average band has been measured up to three years after the children were discontinued from the program (Pinnell 1989; Smith- Burke, Jaggar, & Ashdown, 1993).


·         Studies have shown Reading Recovery to be more effective in achieving short-term and sustained progress in reading and writing than other intervention programs, both one-to-one tutorial and small group methods (Pinnell, Lyons, DeFord, Bryk, & Seltzer, 1994; Gregory, Earl, & O'Donoghue, 1993).


·         Reading Recovery has been found to be cost-effective when compared to remedial reading programs, special education placement, and primary grade retention (Dyer, 1992; Swartz, 1992).





Program Description:


Reading Recovery is an early intervention program designed by Marie M. Clay (1979, 1985) to assist children in first grade who are having difficulty learning to read and write.  Children eligible for the program are identified by their classroom teachers as the lowest in their class in reading acquisition. Children who are not acquiring reading and writing through regular classroom instruction receive a short-term, individually designed program of instruction that allows them to succeed before they enter a cycle of failure.  Reading Recovery is designed to move children in a short time from the bottom of their class to the average, where they can profit from regular classroom instruction.  The goal of Reading Recovery is accelerated learning.  Children are expected to make faster than average progress so that they can catch up with other children in their class.


Reading Recovery provides one-to-one tutoring, five days per week, 30 minutes a day, by a specially trained teacher.  The daily lessons during these 30-minute sessions consist of a variety of reading and writing experiences that are designed to help children develop their own effective strategies for literacy acquisition.  Instruction continues until children can read at or above the class average and can continue to learn without later remedial help.  Reading Recovery is supplemental to classroom instruc­tion and lasts an average of 12-20 weeks, at the end of which children have developed a self‑extending system that uses a variety of strategies to read increasingly difficult text and to independently write their own messages.


Aspects of Reading


This program addresses the following aspects of reading:


·         Phonemic Awareness  ü

·         Phonics ü

·         Fluency ü

·         Vocabulary ü

·         Comprehension ü

·         Motivation ü










Correlation to Nevada State Standards


Currently being completed.


Teacher Support:


Reading Recovery uses a trainer of trainers model.  University professors (trainers of teacher leaders) prepare district-level staff developers (teacher leader) who in turn train teachers in the Reading Recovery teaching techniques.  This model ensures that Reading Recovery will have the support at the school district and site levels necessary for successful program implementa­tion.  It also sets the stage for systemic reform of how we teach reading and writing and how we provide access to good first year teaching for all children.


Experienced teachers are provided professional development in a year-long curriculum that integrates theory and practice and is characterized by intensive interaction with colleagues.  Teachers-in-training conduct lessons behind a one-way glass and are observed and given feedback by their colleagues.  In addition, Reading Recovery Teacher leaders visit teachers at their sites and help them reflect on and improve their teaching and observing of children.  There are three main elements in the Reading Recovery professional development program:


1.   Teacher and teacher leaders participate in an extensive training program that combines child development and early literacy theory with practice in the observation and discussion of Reading Recovery lessons that are taught behind a one-way glass.  Trained teachers received six hours of university credit for completing the program.


2.   Teachers and teacher leaders work with four children in Reading Recovery each day during their training year and in subsequent years.  Teachers are observed and coached by teacher leaders during school visits.


3.   Teachers and teacher leaders participate in ongoing professional development as long as they continue to teach in Reading Recovery.  Teachers are visited and coached, and they participate in in-service training sessions where demonstrations are ob­served and critiqued using the one-way glass.


Equipment Requirements:


Training Site:

One-way glass and sound system, bookcases and lighting*

Evaluation and data collection

Audio/video tapes and materials

Professional library

Communication (phone, mail, fax)

Duplication (forms, reports, etc.)


School Site:

A quiet designated area

Primary table(s)


Magnetic chalk/white board

Storage units (for materials)




The initial cost of a Reading Recovery Training Site is ($5,000-$7,000) depending on the number of districts participating.


Fees for establishing a Reading Recovery School Site are approximately $8,000 for the teacher-training year.  The fees include teacher training by teacher leader, six hours of university credit, all professional text, assessment materials and children's books.  Continuing contact fees in subsequent years is minimal.


For Information Contact:


Dr. Judith Neal, Project Director

Central California Reading Recovery Project

California State University at Fresno

5005 North Maple Avenue

Mail Stop 1202

Fresno, CA 93740-8025

Phone:  (559) 278-0223






Current Location in Nevada:


Washoe County School District                                       Lyon County School District

Located in 15 elementary schools                         Located in all elementary schools

Contact: Kay Hackbarth                                                  Contact:  Nat Lommori

Phone: (775) 689-2565                                                   Phone: (775) 463-6800


Lincoln County School District                                        White Pine County School District

Caliente Elementary                                                        In August 1998, the District will use

Caliente, NV 89008                                                         Reading Recovery in all elementary schools

Contact: Mark Shellinger, Superintendent

Panaca Elementary                                                         Phone: (775) 289-4851

Panaca, NV 89042                                                         

Nevada 2000 - Five District Coalition

Pahranagat Valley Elementary                                          (Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye, White Pine)

Alamo, NV 89001                                                           Contact: JG Johnson Elementary

Phone: (775) 727-7741

Contact: Vaughn Higbee, Superintendent

Phone: (775) 728-4471


Mineral County School District

Schurz Elementary

P.O. Box 70

Schurz, NV 89427

Contact:  Joel Hoades

Phone:  (775) 773-2323