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Reading Recovery


Reading Recovery is a program for children who have been in formal schooling for a year and are in the bottom 20% of their class in reading skills. Children take part daily in 30 minute individual tuition sessions lasting over a period of 12 to 20 weeks. The specially-trained staff work to raise children’s reading skills until they have reached the average level for their class - at which point a new pupil is recruited to take part.

Implementation Tip

Reading Recovery is a difficult package to implement unless adopted by the School and Education Department. A Reading Recovery Tutor is required and this position is responsible for training teachers, monitoring pupils’ progress and providing staff with continuing support. Tutors are required to complete a two-year course, including a one-year academic qualification and a year’s practical work within the local educational sector.

Evaluation Evidence

The Reading Recovery program is one of the most thoroughly evaluated programs for children with reading difficulties in the world (Hurry, 1996; Pinnell, Lyons, DeFord, Bryk, & Seltzer, 1994; Shanahan & Barr, 1995). Findings from randomised evaluation trials that include long-term follow-up support the benefits of this strategy. A UK evaluation found that children doubled their reading progress during the course of the program compared with a control group of similar children (Sylva & Hurry, 1996). A long-term follow-up, when children were aged 10, found that children whose reading skills were in the lowest 10% when they took part in Reading Recovery were reading better than their peers in the control group. But this was not the case with children whose skills had not been so poor.

Monitoring Recommendations

  • At the planning stage Boards can request advice on monitoring processes, andexpected participation rates and participant changes.
  • Boards should negotiate agreements to receive regular progress reports.
  • Monitoring should include information on teacher training (i.e. attendance, satisfaction with the training delivered by the Reading Recovery Tutor; the number of local people undertaking training), and program delivery (i.e. number of students assisted; number of tutor sessions delivered; and student progress in reading levels).

Reading Recovery

Program details
Target Audience: 
5 - 7 years
Target Risk Factors: 
  • Academic failure (low academic achievement)
  • Low commitment to school
Target Protective Factors: 
  • School opportunities for prosocial involvement
  • Schools rewards for prosocial involvement
  • Social skills
Community Indicators: 
  • Poor reading progress in the first year if primary school
  • Low parental education
  • School truancy