The study took place in ten school districts (two rural, two suburban, and six urban) in Ohio.
The authors studied 403 first-grade students distributed across 43 schools from ten districts.
The percentage of students in each district who received public assistance in the form of Aid
to Dependent Children ranged from 9% and 42%. Four schools per district implemented one
of four reading interventions—Reading Recovery®, Reading Success, Direct Instruction Skills
Plan, and Reading and Writing Group. Within each school, the ten lowest-scoring students
were randomly assigned either to participate in the intervention or to participate in the school’s
regular reading program. For this report, the WWC looked at results for students in the ten
schools (across ten school districts) who were using Reading Recovery® as their intervention.
These schools all had prior experience implementing Reading Recovery®. In the original study
design, 100 students were randomly assigned to receive either Reading Recovery® or the
comparison condition at ten schools. However, random assignment was not successfully
implemented at two schools, and there was minor attrition at the remaining schools, resulting
in a final analytic sample of 79 students from eight schools (in eight districts). All students were
low achieving, which was defined as students who scored below the 37th percentile on a standardized assessment and who were recommended for compensatory help by their teachers.
The intervention group was composed of 31 low-achieving students across eight schools. Intervention
students received one-on-one tutoring with a trained Reading Recovery® teacher daily
for 30 minutes. The activities led by the teacher were aimed at fostering independent reading
skills and included: reading both easier and more challenging books, conducting word analysis
in context, and participating in activities aimed at improving writing fluency, such as composing
sentences and reconstructing cut-up versions of sentences.
The comparison group included 48 students attending the same eight schools as the intervention
group. Students assigned to the comparison group received no special instruction,
but continued to participate in their regular reading program and existing federally-funded
supplemental education services with an instructional focus on developing basic reading
and vocabulary skills. Some lessons from the supplemental education program included
teachers reading aloud as well as group reading. Comparison group teachers, none of whom
had received Reading Recovery® training, selected instructional materials based on their
This WWC review focuses on outcomes measured in February of the academic year in which
the study took place because, at that point, no comparison group students had been exposed
to the intervention. The WWC review does not include assessments that were measured in May
of the same academic year because, at that time, a portion of students who had originally been
assigned to the comparison condition had participated in the intervention. Three measures were
administered to assess student outcomes in the general reading achievement domain: the Dictation
subtest of the Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement, the Woodcock Reading
Mastery Test–Revised, and the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test. Results from the Observation
Survey: Text Reading Level subtest were not reported because effect sizes that were comparable
to other measures could not be calculated. For a more detailed description of the included
outcome measures, see Appendix B.
Support for implementation
At least two years prior to the study, Reading Recovery® teachers received specialized training.
During this training period that took place over the course of an academic year, the teachers
participated in weekly 2.5 hour long sessions, in which they practiced teaching using Reading
Recovery® methods and observed other teachers through a one-way mirror. They also
received a 1-day orientation at the beginning of the study.