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Reading Recovery: A Scientifically Based Analysis

Aleidine J. Moeller, Director Teachers College Institute University of Nebraska-Lincoln July 2002

Introduction

Reading Recovery (RR) was designed by Marie Clay in 1979 for the purpose of

intervening with young children in New Zealand identified as having reading problems.

After achieving substantial success in New Zealand it was brought to the U.S in the mid-

1980’s for use in the public school systems in Ohio. Early and impressive success with

the program led to its acceptance in 1987 by the National Diffusion Network as an

exemplary program.

Reading Recovery gives the lowest-achieving children in first grade, who are not

responding to classroom instruction in reading, the opportunity to catch-up by providing

individual tutorial instruction by specially trained teachers. A basic intent is to intervene

with low achieving students before they encounter continued failure and frustration. The

reading teacher continually and carefully observes the student’s reading behavior to

discern the strategies s/he is using and to identify the additional strategies s/he should be

taught in order to provide her/him with a “self-extending system” for reading. Students

are “discontinued” (usually after 12-20 weeks of lessons) when they are able to read at

about the level of the average student in the class. They may be “dismissed” from the

program without reaching that level if they are not making sufficient progress or they

have received 100 lesson and still have not reached the level required for “discontinuing.”

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