WWC review of this study

Evaluation of the i3 Scale-up of Reading Recovery: Year One Report, 2011-12. RR-76

May, Henry; Gray, Abigail; Gillespie, Jessica N.; Sirinides, Philip; Sam, Cecile; Goldsworthy, Heather; Armijo, Michael; Tognatta, Namrata (2013). Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED547669

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: June 2016

Meets WWC standards without reservations

Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

Reviewed: October 2014

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Reading achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS): Reading

Reading Recovery® vs. None

post intervention

First-grade students;
866 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 18% English language learners

  • Female: 39%
    Male: 61%
  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


The study was conducted in first-grade classrooms in schools in the United States.

Study sample

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.

Intervention Group

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.

Comparison Group

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.

Outcome descriptions

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.


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