Reading Recovery's origins began more than 30 years ago in New Zealand, long before the best, tried-and-true research was conducted on how to effectively teach our most struggling students to read. However, Reading Recovery programs continue to be used in our schools and have a cult-like following that is difficult to penetrate, despite their ineffective results as proven by the high number of children who are not reading at grade level and by the existance of the large gap between the highest and lowest achieving students in the areas of reading & writing. Most non-Reading Recovery minded people are baffled by the strong beliefs held by RR teachers and schools because of the existance & abundance of brilliant, scientific-research on the BEST teaching methods for teaching students how to read. The article below, from Learning Difficulties Australia, November 2013, discusses the ineffectiveness of the Reading Recovery Program, the manipulation of data by its teachers in New Zealand and the current data which shows 66% of its students still not reading proficiently.
Reading Recovery is missing the essential elements of the actual teaching of reading skills: "systematic teaching of phonemic awareness (the ability to reflect on and manipulate the phonemic segments of spoken words) and alphabetic coding skills (the ability to translate letters and letter patterns into phonological forms)." Why would a program that has proven itself to be inadequate continue to be used? Its Gestapo-like administration of the program is run so that no changes can be made to the program, thereby hog-tying the adminstration of the program despite its ineffectiveness. Schools have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into training, adopting its philosophy, integrating its philosophies into every classroom and intervention programs and through the purchase of tons of materials. If and when schools recognize its ineffectiveness, they will have to scrap some of what they currently use and their beliefs that have been ingrained for the past 20-30 years. They will need to investigate better programs--hopefully NOT be SOLD by big business companies--and provide training for all staff and purchase materials to use. This investment would NOT cost as much as it would seem. Most scientific-based phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, decoding and reading fluency skill programs are inexpensive and highly effective at teaching children to decode and read fluently. They don't require schools to throw out all the materials used in their guided-reading programs, those could continue to be used to read in small groups after decoding lessons--AS LONG AS the teachers DROP the terrible strategies adopted by Reading Recovery methods such as: find a chunk within a word; use picture clues to guess the word; use context clues to figure out the word, get your mouth ready, etc. These strategies appear to be good on the surface because they help with overall comprehension, but they do NOT help one DECODE; the basic necessity of reading.
The Barton Reading & Spelling Program is continuallly touted as one of the best and simplest programs to implement . Recently, I began using Levels 1 & 2 in my resource room and actually saw data points rise on nearly all students. Prior to implementing that program, nearly all students' data points had flat-lined with the programs I had access to. Unfortunately, I had to fight hard to get the program and the only way I received it was to seek donations from myself, friends and family through Donor's Choose. After I began using level 1 and finding success with it, my district bought level 2. I don't mind raising funds in some ways, and yet, I do; having to find the money caused a great delay in providing the best instruction to my students. In addition to that travesty, my own family's budget had to suffer and my extended family and friends had to dig into their budgets because I was so passionate about this program. Thankfully, they trusted my judgement because while providing the program to my students, I saw their eyes light up with new knowledge and confidence in their skills. I saw the confusion lift slightly for them and can't wait for this school year to start so we can continue to rid them of their confusion with the alphabetic code. With the ease of use and DVD training methods, others are eager to use the Barton System with students. Over the summer I spent several days training in a newer program called, EBLI (Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction) which is a method of instruction to teach reading that should give results in a lot less time than other methods. I have spoken with many educators and adminstrators all around Michigan who use this program and love it because of its effectiveness; ALL of their students are making gains --general education, learning disabled, even cognitively impaired students are making progress....the rate of progress varies but the program is not limited to just those who struggle to read or spell. Many of those I spoke with, use it school-wide and are finding great results in their reading scores which are transferring to their state assessment scores. The cost for this program is in training only, no materials to purchase with the exception of dry erase markers and white-boards.....cheapest program I know of with highly effective results in teaching how to decode & encode fluently. I am excited to see how my students respond to EBLI this year!
Reading Recovery methodology is antiquated and ineffective. It's time our schools recognize that and start making changes. More of our children need to learn how to read; they deserve to have our undivided attention to this end with every ounce of our energy. Our schools need to look at the research--NOT what the big business companies say or attempt to show them--they must be able to discern a sales pitch with weak research from the peer-reviewed research & studies to implement the best remediation techniques that teach our students how to read fluently (see Resources Tab on my website for more info)
Which program(-s) have you found to be the most effective in teaching skills of reading and spelling?