Reading Recovery:
What Do School Districts Get for Their Money?

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In This Issue . . .

Circulation: 75,054
ISSN: 1538-320

Reading Recovery is still being used in special education programs. How effective is Reading Recovery? What does the research on Reading Recovery show?

Given the focus on the need to use scientifically based reading programs, Reading Recovery is receiving increased scrutiny regarding claims of the program’s effectiveness.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate, Dr. Melissa Farrall provides a comprehensive review of the research about Reading Recovery and the concerns raised about the theoretical foundation, the research base, and the costs associated with Reading Recovery.

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What is Reading Recovery?

Current research provides overwhelming support for a highly structured, systematic approach to reading instruction that incorporates the alphabetic principles and phonemic awareness.

Reading Recovery lacks independent research that validates the program’s success.

Read more in Reading Recovery: What Do School Districts Get for Their Money by Dr. Melissa Farrall.


Is Reading Recovery Effective?

Several independent studies provide evidence that:

  • Reading Recovery is ineffective with poor readers

  • Reading Recovery does not outperform other methodologies that require less expense and less training

  • Reading Recovery students do not generalize and maintain their skills

In an open letter to policymakers and education leaders, more than 30 international reading researchers expressed serious concerns about the continued use of Reading Recovery in public schools.

They concluded, "Reading Recovery leaves too many students behind."

Read the letter from reading researchers.


Where's the "Bang for the Buck" with RR?

Reading Recovery is expensive, when compared to programs that are more effective.

One study found that “thirty hours of instruction for one child in Reading Recovery costs more than a full year of schooling for the child.”

Reading Recovery does not reduce the need for special education and Title I services.

The goal of Reading Recovery is not to bring students up to the national average in reading and some experts believe that the program may violate constitutional law by holding lower expectations for minority children. Review the research in Reading Recovery: What Do School Districts Get for Their Money.



Meet Melissa Farrall

Dr. Melissa Farrall works as an independent evaluator for her business, Mind Matters Inc. She is also an Adjunct Faculty member in the Language and Literacy Program at Simmons College. She was one of the founders of The Reading Foundation.

Dr. Farrall helped to revise the chapters on testing in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd edition. Thanks to Dr. Farrall, these chapters now include information about dozens of tests that are used to evaluate children.

Read more from Dr. Farrall about Reading Tests: What They Measure, & Don't Measure.


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