The Sustaining Effects of Reading Intervention

On September 11th, 2011, Posted by author

Last modified: October 26, 2015

Reading Recovery (Clay, 1982, 1991, 1993) is a type of reading intervention program that serves as a short-term tutoring strategy to improve the reading and learning in children identified as low achievers (bottom 20%) in the first grade.

The program consists of a daily reading lesson lasting 30 minutes for 12 to 20 weeks. The teacher conducting this program is specially trained and works one-to-one with each child separately. This is to ensure that the program addresses the individual level and particular problems of each child. The progression and development of the child in reading and writing is supported by the teacher in a self-extending systematic manner. This program aims to integrate the child in regular classroom situations and gain the ability to function successfully with the average students. Such a program should be able to sustain the advantages gained by the child in building an inner control of the strategic processes each time the child reads (Clay, 1991).

The Reading Recovery website sets out ten principles on which this program is based: phonological awareness, visual perception of letters, word recognition, phonics/decoding skills, phonics/structural analysis, fluency/automaticity, comprehension, a balanced literacy approach, early intervention, and individual tutoring. The students are selected by the teachers, based on their previous reading level, and diagnostic testing using the Clay Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (WWC Intervention Report).

 Shanahan & Barr (1995) analyzed its effectiveness especially to see whether Reading Recovery also leads to learning along with improving literary skills in reading and writing and compared the amount of learning achieved in relation to that of other average and low-achieving students. The study also investigated whether learning achievements that resulted from the program could be maintained even after the program is completed, and also whether the program led to other instructional alterations in schools. Their results demonstrated positive trends in the learning achievements. The students who were part of the program were observed to have made greater gains in reading than expected, which were similar to those achieved by the most successful educational interventions.

But the researchers found the effectiveness lower than the claims of the program and more expensive too. Moreover, the program did not lead to instructional changes in classroom rendering it difficult to sustain learning gains. The great expense and the exaggerated claims are somewhat discouraging for schools to adopt the program, but steps like constant and more effective monitoring and encouraging innovations that could lower the costs while maintaining effectiveness, could lead to more positive results for sustaining the gains from the program.

However, another study by Kim (2006) as a voluntary summer reading intervention to improve reading and learning by lending books to students who owned fewer books at home, were less fluent readers, and belonged to the minority students community, showed very heartening results. That proved it a more cost-efficient and scale-able method for improving reading achievement among lower-performing students. Although the sustaining effects of this method were not studied in this research, it follows that the reading intervention helped the students do better in their regular classes.

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