The study was conducted in first-grade classrooms in schools in the United States.
From a total of 628 schools in multiple states participating in an i3 scale-up study of Reading
Recovery®, 209 schools were randomly selected to participate in this randomized controlled
trial. Of those, 158 schools carried out the student-level random assignment process, forming
matched pairs of students and randomly assigning one student from each pair to the intervention
group and one to the comparison group. In total, 628 students were assigned to the
intervention group and 625 students to the comparison group.
The analytic sample included only student pairs for whom complete data were available: 866
students in 147 schools, with 433 students in the intervention group and 433 students in the
comparison group. In the analytic sample, 61% of the students in the intervention group were
male, 17% were English learners, 57% were White, 22% were Hispanic, 18% were African
American, and 3% were categorized as other race. In the comparison group, 61% of students
were male, 18% were English learners, 56% were White, 20% were Hispanic, 19% were African
American, and 5% were categorized as other race.
Students in the intervention group were pulled out of the classroom for 30 minutes a day for
one-on-one sessions with a Reading Recovery® teacher. The sessions included reading familiar
books, story composition, assembling stories using cut-up sentences, and previewing and
reading new books. Frequent progress monitoring by the Reading Recovery® teacher allowed
sessions to be tailored to each student’s needs.
Reading Recovery® lessons are discontinued when students demonstrate the ability to consistently
read at the average level for their grade—this typically occurs between weeks 12 and 20
of the program. Those who make progress but do not reach average classroom performance
after 20 weeks are referred for further evaluation and a plan for future action.
Students in the comparison group received regular classroom instruction in the reading curriculum;
they received no supplemental instruction during the intervention period. After the
mid-year administration of the posttest, students in the comparison group were eligible to
receive instruction in Reading Recovery® during the remainder of the school year.
The ITBS Total Reading test was used to assess students’ general reading achievement levels.
The Total Reading test includes two subtests: Reading Comprehension and Reading Words.
For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B. The test was
administered mid-year, after the completion of the intervention.
Support for implementation
Reading Recovery® teachers participated in training sessions at designated facilities or at
the schools where the teachers worked. In the sessions, teachers were trained to design
and implement daily lessons tailored to the needs of the individual student. Teachers also
learned to document lesson activities and collect data to track student progress and inform
lesson planning. Teacher learning was supported in three main ways: (a) Teachers completed
a 1-week summer course that addressed the interpretation and scoring of the Observation
Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (the pretest given to students in the evaluation to assess
their reading level); (b) Teachers completed a year-long academic course taught by a Reading
Recovery® teacher leader, where they attended weekly 3-hour training sessions; and (c) Teachers
were observed by and received feedback from their teacher leader.