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Reading Recovery: A Scientifically Based Analysis - page 16 / 21





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Shanahan and Barr (1995) conducted a systematic analysis of all available

empirical work on Reading Recovery. They collected various versions of Clay’s manual

on Reading Recovery as well as all the technical reports on Reading Recovery published

by the team at Ohio State University. The Educational Resources Information

Clearinghouse (ERIC) system was examined for all articles and documents on Reading

Recovery. The reference lists included in each document were examined. Their

consideration of the existing research and evaluation studies is largely qualitative.

Shanahan and Barr (1995) note that the in-house Reading Recovery evaluation

system is biased because of the way data are collected. Those responsible for

implementation collect the data on success. About half of the data on children eligible

for RR are omitted from final analyses. The measures used to evaluate RR emphasize

tasks that align with the strategies taught in RR. The reading measure uses predictable

text rather than natural text.

Intervention research is an especially complex and difficult undertaking, and it is

rare that all threats to validity can be controlled for in this type of work (see Benton,

1994). The entire issue of Educational Psychology Review is devoted to issues of

intervention research.


There are three additions that would impact positively the number of students

who benefit from Reading Recovery, their rate of progress, and reduce costs: (1)

increased group size; (2) explicit instruction in phonics and phonemic awareness; and (3)

use of standardized outcome measures and continuous progress monitoring. These

additions have been largely ignored despite research summarized in the National

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