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Reading Recovery: A Scientifically Based Analysis - page 10 / 21





10 / 21


RR would be an unwise strategy, as even RR students are likely to require some kind of

additional maintenance support in later years(Shanahan and Barr, 1995).

Cost of Reading Recovery

One to one interventions by highly trained teachers are required. An analysis by

Hiebert (1994) found that RR was very expensive, costing over $8,000 per student,

reflecting in part the costs of training. According to Shanahan and Barr (1995) after the

savings from lower retention rates and special education costs are considered, the per

student annual expenditure for RR is in the region of $3,200, with great variation evident

in district expenditures due to differences in teacher salaries and benefits. The emphasis

on experienced teachers probably raises the actual per-student costs to $4,000.

Elbaum et al. (2000) found that students who participated in RR did not

outperform students who were provided one on one reading instruction by trained

volunteers. Two studies have compared RR administered to a small group (Evans, 1996;

Iversen, 1997) and found no advantage of one to one instruction over small group

instruction. Many of the current NICHD and OSEP pullout interventions utilize group

sizes of 1:3 and higher. Thus, solely by virtue of the number of students who can be

reached, RR is at least 200% more expensive than other first grade interventions.

There are other first grade programs that are demonstrably efficacious, impact more

students because they do not require 1:1 tutoring, are easier to implement, and do a

better job than Reading Recovery of improving student reading skills because they do not

drop students (Snow et al., 1998; Torgesen, 1999).

RR has been criticized for its expense of implementation (Cunningham and

Allington 1994; Shanahan and Barr 1995). Can the school district’s early investment, the

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