Reading Recovery victory in New South WalesPosted: September 22, 2016
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have written a number of times about Reading Recovery. Reading Recovery research is exemplary in the way that it illustrates the problems with unfair tests.
Reading Recovery is a one-to-one intervention. When compared to doing nothing (or doing something short of one-to-one tuition) it appears to be effective. The problem is that we don’t know whether this is due to the form of the intervention or its nature. Would students make similar progress with a program of any additional one-to-one reading tuition of similar duration or is it the specific Reading Recovery strategies that cause the effect?
Theoretically, Reading Recovery is perhaps unsound. It is based upon the whole language approach to reading prevalent in the 1970s when it was developed. Although it has latterly incorporated an element of phonics, it’s not clear that this is the systematic synthetic phonics supported by research. And it still uses the three-cuing system criticised by Jim Rose in his report for the UK government.
I recently read a review that showed that the size of the effect when Reading Recovery is compared to do nothing/little is smaller than when systematic phonics intervention programs are compared with do nothing/little. This is strongly suggestive of the need to switch away from Reading Recovery to systematic phonics interventions.
A recent review for the New South Wales government took a look at the available evidence, including long term effects, and found a lack of support for Reading Recovery. The New South Wales government have now announced that they will cease to mandate Reading Recovery as the intervention of choice in government schools.
So a victory for evidence-based education. Savour it: they are rare.