Frequently Asked Questions:
Information for School Administrators Implementing Reading Recovery under the i3 Grant
1. How do I staff Reading Recovery without using additional funds?
Administrators are often faced with the challenge of providing needed interventions to their struggling students without being able to add staff. Implementing Reading Recovery in the current economic climate without increasing FTEs may present challenges to an administrator, but it can be accomplished.
First, identify the teachers to be trained who have a track record of effective teaching and who likely will be most successful in completing the year of Reading Recovery training. You will need to release the identified teachers for .4 of their day (2.5 hrs.) to provide the daily 30-minute 1:1 lessons to the lowest performing first graders. What part of the teacher’s current assignment will need to be reallocated to other staff? Seek input from each teacher, from his or her grade-level colleagues, and from other school leaders. Ask, “How can we make this important work happen?” Encourage thinking “outside the box.” Can the teacher’s students be reassigned to one or more classrooms for larger-group teaching, such as during social studies or science? Can other teachers assume responsibility for these students during recesses? Could these students receive an additional library time each week? What about working cross-grade level or increasing team teaching time?
Each school is different and will need to come up with its own scenarios for finding time for this 1:1 intervention while keeping the learning experiences of the children in the classroom setting robust. This issue illustrates the importance of helping all staff understand that Reading Recovery is a school-wide intervention that will need the support of multiple staff members to affect the learning outcomes of more than just the individual first-graders with whom the interventionist teacher trained in Reading Recovery has direct contact. A starting point for discussions among teaching staff may be the commitment to a shared philosophy that all children can learn and it is our responsibility to make that happen. Often it is the action steps taken by a progressive school administrator that are the catalyst for these important discussions. For information regarding Action Steps taken by school Principals, Click Here.
2. How do schools cover part of the interventionist’s time to meet the needs of other struggling students when part of that time is allotted to Reading Recovery teaching?
Schools that decide to reallocate .4 of an interventionist’s time to Reading Recovery teaching often worry about how to cover the struggling students that the teacher had worked with prior to the assignment to train in Reading Recovery. Current thinking in RTI supports the idea that interventionists such as Title I and special education teachers should no longer take group after group of five or six lowest performing students who remain with them for an entire year or more without achieving accelerative progress, simply as a matter of course. Schools that have successfully added Reading Recovery to their interventionist’s schedule have involved their staffs in rethinking how students are identified for other intervening services, how interventions are delivered, and for how long each intervention group lasts. The interventionist may need to do more finely-tuned assessments to identify those who are most at-risk for literacy learning failure in the upper grades, identify specific areas of need, while also planning shorter-term intervention periods for many children earlier in the primary grades and with more frequent evaluations of progress. This tightening-up should lead to a more efficient and effective model of intervening services while making room to include Reading Recovery, a proven early intervention, as a front-runner to prevent literacy failure in a school. Schools that fully implement Reading Recovery to cover the bottom performing first graders (approximately 20% of the first grade cohort) find that referrals and placements in special education/LD are reduced thus freeing up more of the interventionist’s time to provide longer-term support for the children who truly need it.
3. Which of my staff can participate in Reading Recovery teacher training under the i3 grant opportunity?
Certified teaching staff employed by the school are eligible to participate in Reading Recovery training. It is important to select teachers who have a history of successful teaching (a minimum of 3 years is recommended) and who will make a commitment to the yearlong graduate level training. Teachers trained in Reading Recovery hold a variety of instructional roles. When they aren’t teaching children in the 1:1 Reading Recovery lessons, these teachers instruct children in classrooms, Title I/reading, special education, and ELL settings and work as literacy coaches and staff developers. Because implementing Reading Recovery in a school is an investment in the development of teacher expertise, schools may consider Reading Recovery training as part of their professional development plan and rotate teachers after three years of service in Reading Recovery to make the training opportunity available to additional members of their elementary staff.
4. How creative can I be in staffing Reading Recovery?
Principals have considerable flexibility in how they staff Reading Recovery. Teachers in this role need to be able to consistently teach four individual 30-minute lessons each day (2.5 hrs. p/day) in addition to their other roles within the school. These teachers may be kindergarten or primary grades classroom teachers, Title 1 teachers, intervention specialists, or teachers of ELL or special education, or literacy coaches. On average, the teachers working in Reading Recovery use their expertise to support the literacy learning of an additional 40 students in their other instructional roles.
To reduce staffing costs, some administrators have arranged for teachers trained in Reading Recovery to provide one or two of the lessons in before- or after-school settings, with the other lessons provided during regular school hours. Reading Recovery instruction and training is intensive, so administrators need to ensure that teachers have adequate time and compensation for their work with the most at-risk first grade children. Because these children need expert teachers, paraprofessionals cannot be trained to provide Reading Recovery instruction. Paraprofessionals can however, be used to free these teachers from other responsibilities so they can provide this high-quality intensive instruction to the most at-risk first graders.
5. How can I build literacy expertise in my building?
Reading Recovery represents an investment in the professional skills of teachers. It builds professional communities that have been widely praised as a model worth emulating. For all Reading Recovery professionals—teachers, teacher leaders, and university trainers—a full academic year of initial training and professional development is followed in subsequent years by continuous development sessions and on-site support. The Investing in Innovation (i3) grant covers the cost of this initial training and professional development for teachers so that early intervention services can be provided as part of these teachers’ instructional roles in the school. For information about the i3 Grant, Click Here.
These Reading Recovery trained teachers share their knowledge and expertise as they consult with other primary teachers working with Reading Recovery students in classroom settings. The Reading Recovery Teacher Leader working with your school may also provide professional development experiences for teachers assigned to classroom, small group, or special education roles. After three years of professional learning in this role, administrators may choose to assign a different teacher to Reading Recovery teaching so that additional members of the staff can benefit from the Reading Recovery training and professional development opportunity.
6. How many children do teachers trained in Reading Recovery serve during the school day?
Teachers trained in Reading Recovery typically provide individualized, 30-minute, 1:1 lessons each day to 4-5 children for a minimum of 8-10 children served in Reading Recovery each year. In their other instructional roles throughout the school day, these same teachers serve on average 40+ additional children in classroom and small group settings. Data collected on Michigan teachers working in the Reading Recovery instructional role reveal that they support the learning of 58.1 children each year. Teachers trained in Reading Recovery are able to apply their considerable expertise not only with children in the 1:1 setting, but also with children in classrooms and small group settings within a comprehensive approach to literacy and as part of a school’s approach to RTI. For a detailed discussion of the number of children served by teachers trained in Reading Recovery and their other instructional roles, click on the link -- 2011-2012 Reading Recovery MI OU Executive Summary.pdf.
7. What difference does Reading Recovery make in reducing the achievement gap?
Reading Recovery’s impact on reducing the achievement gap is best illustrated in the following figure. The figure demonstrates the effect of Reading Recovery instruction on the reading achievement of the lowest performing literacy learners in first grade and compares their progress to the Random Sample of their peers and the Low Random Sample of children in schools with Reading Recovery.
| Note: A change in national random sampling procedures implemented in 2011-12 reduced the size of the Random Sample for Michigan; therefore, the Random Sample is represented by data from the three years, 2009-10 through 2011-12.
Random Sample (RS) Children – The green line at the top shows the Random Sample’s progress on text reading at three points in time. These students start the year at a higher text reading level and make progress throughout the year.
Reading Recovery (RR) Children served in the fall – The blue line shows the progress of Reading Recovery children who were selected during the fall semester for Reading Recovery service. Initially the lowest-performing children, they catch up to the Random Sample by mid-year when their Reading Recovery lessons end and continue to maintain their progress.
Reading Recovery (RR) Children served at mid-year – The red line shows the progress of Reading Recovery children selected for service at mid-year when slots by Reading Recovery children served in the fall become available. Although these children made some progress in the fall without Reading Recovery, they are behind their Random Sample peers at mid-year. Provided with Reading Recovery however, these children make accelerative progress, reduce the gap between themselves and the Random Sample and achieve within-average performance levels by year’s end.
Low Random Sample (RS) Children – The purple line at the bottom shows the progress of the Low Random Sample. These students who did not receive Reading Recovery were low at the beginning of the school year and remain low throughout the year. While they made some progress throughout the year, it is not enough to reduce the achievement gap. Had they been able to receive Reading Recovery, it is likely they would have achieved accelerative progress and reached within-average performance levels.
These findings confirm Juel’s (1988) research which showed that children who were low-performing in literacy in first grade are very likely to remain low-performing in fourth grade. However, provided with contingent, responsive teaching by specially trained and professionally developed teachers, even the lowest-performing children can make accelerative progress, benefit from good classroom instruction, and continue learning with their peers (McEneaney, Lose & Schwartz, 2006).
8. How can I argue for the effectiveness of 1:1 instruction?
It seems these days that every program claims to be scientifically research based. The fact that Reading Recovery was awarded the federal Investing in Innovation (i3) scale-up grant required demonstration of the highest level of research evidence. Reading Recovery was able to demonstrate with experimental studies that it causes large gains in reading achievement. Reading Recovery’s 25-year history in the United States and the evaluation data available on over two million children from thousands of schools and districts show that these research results can be scaled-up with similarly positive results in diverse settings.
It is important for educators to know if an intervention reduces or closes achievement disparities across various subgroups of the population. The Reading Recovery evaluation data has demonstrated that participating students do close the achievement gap with their average peers, that these gains are substantial for sub-groups by gender, race, socioeconomic status and for English Language Learners (ELL) and that these achievement gains reduce referrals to special education.
Administrators often value the expertise of their Reading Recovery teachers, but want to reach more children at a lower cost. To accomplish this some administrators have suspended their individual Reading Recovery intervention and reallocated these teachers to work only in small groups with a ratio of one-to-five, or higher. Schwartz, Schmitt, & Lose (in press) found that this change reduced the ability of these teachers to achieve outcomes that closed the achievement gap from 60% in the one-to-one condition to only 20% in the one-to-five condition. Only the one-to-one early intervention had the power to accelerate learning for the lowest performing first graders. Schwartz et al. concluded that a combination of one-to-one and small group services could be optimized by adjusting the balance among these services based on local achievement outcomes data, thus achieving the goal of a comprehensive approach to literacy and RTI. For further discussion of Cost Effectiveness, Click Here.
9. Besides service provided to the lowest performing first grade students, what other benefits does training a Reading Recovery teacher provide to our school as a whole?
Reading Recovery is an investment in teachers—the best use of school dollars to impact student achievement. The ongoing and intensive Reading Recovery professional development model produces highly skilled literacy teachers. This cadre of professionals builds literacy expertise and capacity for working with a school’s struggling readers.
National data show that Reading Recovery teachers, on average, work with 8-10 Reading Recovery children over the course of a school year and 40+ more children in their other teaching roles. In addition to using their expertise with 50 children (on average) each year, these teachers interact with other teachers in collaborative and leadership roles.
Investing in Reading Recovery changes the culture of a school. Teachers trained in Reading Recovery ‘learn by doing’ that all children really can learn. They often become especially strong advocates for the disenfranchised and struggling students in a school. These teachers can put a face on what may be viewed as abstract school improvement work.
Reading Recovery produces accelerative learning in children. Teachers trained in Reading Recovery collaborate with their colleagues in a variety of ways, including (a) demonstrating that intentional daily teaching and efficient and effective use of instructional time produces quality results, (b) teaching to each child’s strengths while knowing how to address each child’s unique learning needs in a timely way to make optimum use of the child’s time, and (c) observing closely how a child learns to provide high-quality instruction resulting in a reduction in the school’s achievement gap. While Reading Recovery cannot be taught to children in a group, a Reading Recovery trained teacher can support his/her colleagues in improving literacy outcomes for children in classroom and small group settings. Among many other things, Reading Recovery teachers work collaboratively with colleagues to revitalize the urgency of teaching, the value of knowing one’s students as individuals, and the importance of understanding how children learn. For discussion of the importance of providing a responsive teacher of reading, Click Here.
10. Who can I talk to for more information about implementing Reading Recovery in my building?
To find out more about how to implement and staff Reading Recovery in your building, contact the Reading Recovery Center of Michigan: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will provide you with the name(s) of professionals experienced in implementing Reading Recovery in a school or district. For information about Reading Recovery in Michigan, visit the website of the Reading Recovery Center of Michigan at Oakland University. To return to the Reading Recovery Home Page, Click Here.