Teacher and student reading
Teacher and student reading
Teacher and student reading
Teacher and student reading
Teacher and student reading
Teacher and student reading
Teacher and student reading


How are students identified for Reading Recovery?

The success of Reading Recovery as an early intervention in literacy has been carefully documented since its inception and it has proven to be extraordinarily successful.  Reading Recovery has the Reading Recovery NSW logostrongest evidence-base of any intervention program.

  • Allington (2002, 2005), Schmitt et al (2005) and Strickland (2002) report that there is more research evidence supporting Reading Recovery as a means of accelerating the development of early reading than any other instruction intervention.
  • A 2006 study carried out in New Zealand by Timperely, Fung, Wilson and Barrar found that Reading Recovery was “having outcomes of educational significance for students”.  They determined the achievement effect size for Reading Recovery to be 3.82 (compared with – 0.15 for repeating a school year).  Timperley H., Fung I., Wilson A. and Barrar H. Professional learning and development: A best evidence synthesis of impact on student outcomes, 2006)
  • Studies in New Zealand, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada demonstrate that Reading Recovery enables most students who are experiencing difficulties in literacy learning to make the accelerated progress necessary to read at the grade level of their peers in an average of 15 weeks.
  • A major study of Maori and Pasifika students and Reading Recovery conducted in New Zealand in 2004 found that “Maori and Pasifika students entered Reading Recovery with lower initial scores than other students and these differences were reduced by the time the series of lessons ended”. (Ministry of Education New Zealand, Reading Recovery in New Zealand: Uptake implementation and outcomes, especially in relation to Maori and Pasifika students, 2006)
  • An evaluation of Reading Recovery in London schools found that “children without access to Reading Recovery had made little progress in learning and the gap between them and their peers had widened considerably by the end of the year”. (Burroughs-Lange S., Evaluation of Reading Recovery in London schools: Every child a reader, 2005-2006)

Reading Recovery NSW logo


Studies completed locally and internationally, present further evidence that most Reading Recovery students continue to read and write at an average or better level after receiving the intervention, thereby reducing the need for long-term remediation.

  • In his Victorian study, Rowe (Factors affecting students’ progress in reading: Key findings from a longitudinal study, 1995) examined the programs of 147 Reading Recovery students from the end of Year 1 to Year 5.  He found that those initial reading gains were still maintained in Year 5, thus indicating that they had become independent readers.

In contrast, research studies that have followed students who have participated in other remedial programs consistently report that many students' progress was not maintained in the classroom. (Wasik and Slavin,  Preventing early reading failure with one-to-one tutoring: A review of five programs, 1993)

Reading Recovery NSW logo

Of the 150 reading-intervention programs that the What Works Clearinghouse (US) looked at, it was the only one determined to have strong evidence that it worked. And I’ve been telling principals for 20 years that the good thing about a program like Reading Recovery is that, if your district ever decides not to continue funding it, your teachers still have that expertise, and you can’t take that away from them. You can take away the one-to-one tutoring that’s part of the program, but even more important than that is the expertise of the teachers.” Professor Richard Allington,  2010.

Why early literacy intervention?

Reading Recovery is insurance against future failure! Research highlights the crucial need for intervention in the early years.

  • Early detection and intervention are vital to a student’s literacy success. (Waskin & Slavin 1993, Torgesen, 2000; National Reading Panel, 2000)
  • Research indicates that difficulty with initial literacy acquisition may lead to less practice and motivation and, hence, to continuing academic struggles. It is therefore important that these students be identified early so that they can be provided with appropriate support. (Strickland, D. 2002)
  • Student’s achievement at the end of the first grade predicts with alarming accuracy their success or failure not just in school tasks but in life experiences. (McGill-Franzen and Allington, 1991)

International research also acknowledges the sustainability of Reading Recovery. Longitudinal studies conducted by Askew, Kaye et al (2002) followed a group of students through to Grade 4 and determined they scored within average ranges of their peers on standardised tests. Ruhe & Moore (2005) compared fourth grade performance of 1,260 former Reading Recovery students with 14,000 students who took the Maine Education Assessment test. Those students who had been discontinued from the program achieved average levels in reading and writing.

Professional Learning

Research by Pearson (2003) and Pressley and Roehrig (2005); Askew, Fulenwider et al, (2002) highlights the powerful impact of Reading Recovery professional development on teachers' knowledge about literacy, learning and development, teacher effectiveness and teacher decision making.

Return on investment

The cost of Reading Recovery per student is $3000 or less than 10 teacher relief days. The earlier intervention for learning difficulty, the more effective and economical it will be. The effects of not being able to read on a child’s self confidence and attitudes to learning make remediation increasingly difficult. The long term cost of literacy difficulties, the 2009 report of the UK Every Child a Chance trust, estimated the return on investment of between £11 and £17 for every pound spent on the Reading Recovery program. Research shows that literacy difficulties are linked to costly special educational need provision, truancy, exclusion from school, reduced employment opportunities, increase d health risks and a greatly increased risk of involvement with the criminal justice system. These increased risks operated over and above those associated with social disadvantage in general, and those associated with lack of qualification.


Related sites

Reading Recovery Council of North America

Reading Recovery Victoria

Reading Recovery New Zealand


NSW Department of Education and Training