The impacts of Reading Recovery at scale

A study published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis presents findings from a four-year evaluation of a national scale-up of Reading Recovery – a one-to-one reading intervention for struggling first grade (Year 2) readers. The evaluation included an implementation study and a multisite randomised controlled trial with 6,888 pupils in 1,222 schools in the US.

Philip Sirinides and colleagues compared the achievement of struggling first grade (Year 2) readers following the Reading Recovery programme with business-as-usual literacy teaching. Results were measured using pupils’ scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) total reading assessment, as well as the ITBS reading comprehension and reading words subtests.

Results showed a medium to large effect on pupils’ reading over the course of the four years (effect size = +0.37) compared to the control group. The impacts of Reading Recovery on the ITBS total reading scores showed an effect size of +0.37. The effect sizes for ITBS reading comprehension and reading words subtests were +0.38 and +0.35, respectively. Effect sizes tended to be larger in schools where pupils had lower average reading performance overall.

Source: The impacts of Reading Recovery at scale: results from the 4-year i3 external evaluation (March 2018), Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis

Trends in early literacy

The transition from kindergarten to first grade (Year 1 to Year 2 in the UK) is considered to be a critical period for children’s academic and social development. Expectation about children’s early literacy learning has risen over time, but has their achievement – and how?

Jerome V D’Agostino and Emily Rodgers analysed achievement data obtained from a US database for Reading Recovery (a literacy intervention for first grade pupils) for more than 364,000 children entering first grade in the same schools. From this data they created a literacy profile for pupils at entry to the first grade over a 12-year period, beginning in the 2002–03 school year.

Their research, published in Educational Researcher, found that overall, reading for all pupils in the first grade improved measurably between 2002 and 2013. Literacy scores on entry increased over time. The effect size change in achievement gaps narrowed (-0.10) on basic skills like letter identification, but widened on advanced skills like text reading level (+0.08) over 12 years.

Source: Literacy achievement trends at entry to first grade (March 2017), Educational Researcher, Vol 46, Issue 2.

More evidence for Reading Recovery

A Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) five-year evaluation of the Reading Recovery programme reports “significant positive impacts” in its second year.

Reading Recovery aims to help raise literacy standards among the lowest-achieving first graders (equivalent to Year 1). Students who receive Reading Recovery meet individually for 30 minutes with a trained Reading Recovery teacher every school day for 12 to 20 weeks.

The evaluation covered a period when the programme in the US increased in size with 2,079 new teachers recruited and trained, an additional 23,720 students experienced one-to-one lessons with a trained teacher in the programme, and an additional 113,976 students received classroom or small-group instruction.

Key findings from the study included:

  • Students in the Reading Recovery programme outperformed those in the control group in all subscales of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) by 14 to 16 percentile points.
  • Large effect sizes of 0.42 standard deviations compared with other children eligible for Reading Recovery and 0.33 standard deviations compared with the national population of first graders.
  • Students in Reading Recovery exceeded expected improvement by an equivalent of an additional 1.4 months compared with the ITBS test’s national norming sample – a large effect in the context of studies on teaching interventions.

Source: Evaluation of the i3 scale-up of Reading Recovery: year two report, 2012-13 (2015), Consortium for Policy Research in Education

Promising results for Reading Recovery

A recent report published by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) evaluates the scale-up of the Reading Recovery programme in US schools. Reading Recovery is a short-term intervention designed to help the lowest-achieving readers in Year 2 reach average levels of literacy.

In 2010 the US Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) fund awarded a grant to expand the use of Reading Recovery by training 3,675 new Reading Recovery teachers with the capacity to reach an additional 88,200 children. The evaluation is taking place over five years, and this report, the first of three, presents results from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.

The authors found that children randomly assigned to Reading Recovery outperformed those in the control group on each subscale of a standardised assessment of reading achievement (Iowa Tests of Basic Skills – ITBS). The mean of Reading Recovery children’s post-test ITBS Total Reading scores was at the 36th percentile nationally, while those in the control group had post-test scores at the 18th percentile – a difference of +18 percentile points. The authors note that Reading Recovery training and implementation were done with high fidelity in schools participating in the scale-up.

Source: Evaluation of the i3 Scale-up of Reading Recovery | Year One Report, 2011-12 (2013), Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Updated evidence report on Reading Recovery

An updated report from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) provides new information on the effectiveness of Reading Recovery for beginning readers. Reading Recovery is a supplemental programme that provides one-to-one tutoring to children aged five or six. It aims to promote literacy skills and foster the development of reading and writing strategies by tailoring individualised lessons to each child. The WWC found that Reading Recovery has positive effects on general reading achievement and potentially positive effects on alphabetics, reading fluency, and comprehension for beginning readers.

Robert Slavin, a Professor in the IEE, published a recent blog post on Reading Recovery. In it, Jerry D’Agostino, director of Reading Recovery’s i3 project, explains how Reading Recovery has dealt with the challenge of long-term sustainability.

Lasting effects from Reading Recovery

A recent report for the Every Child a Reader Trust looks at the impact of Reading Recovery five years after intervention. The programme is known to have impressive effects in the short term, but less is known about its long-term effectiveness.

At the end of Year 6, the study followed up 77 children who had received Reading Recovery five years earlier, 127 comparison children, and 50 children in Reading Recovery schools who had not received Reading Recovery. Findings showed that children who had received Reading Recovery made significantly greater progress in English than the comparison children by the end of Year 6. The 50 comparison children in the Reading Recovery schools were also significantly out-performing the comparison group in non-Reading Recovery schools on the reading test.

Source:Reading recovery in United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland: 2012-3 (2012), Institute of Education, University of London