About Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery is an early literacy intervention designed for children who clearly show that they have already become at risk in literacy learning in their classroom by the end of the first year at school. Reading Recovery takes the lowest achieving children and aims to bring them to average bands of literacy performance in a relatively short period of time. Reading Recovery teachers, trained in systematic observation of literacy behaviors, identify potential Reading Recovery children in consultation with other school staff. Lessons are individually designed and delivered and emphasize change according to individual needs across a series of daily lessons.

Designed as a system intervention, Reading Recovery demonstrates cost effectiveness by returning two-thirds or more of the children to average performance levels in all countries. Factors that enable Reading Recovery to work successfully in a variety of international educational settings cluster in five areas:

  • Reading Recovery guidelines guard against shifts toward ineffective practices.
  • A long period of training prepares teachers to be decision makers.
  • Components of the Reading Recovery lesson support both perceptual and cognitive processing.
  • Reading Recovery demonstrates the utility of a complex theory of learning.
  • Emphasis is placed on constructive learners who push the boundaries of their own learning and become independent problem solvers.

Development of Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery was developed by New Zealand educator and researcher, Marie M. Clay. She conducted observational research in the 1960s that enabled her to design ways to detect children’s early difficulties with literacy learning. Initially working with a group of teachers in the 1970s, she developed teaching procedures and tested the intervention through research trials in New Zealand. Following its success in New Zealand, Reading Recovery spread to Australia, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Reading Recovery has been reconstructed in Spanish (Descubriendo la Lectura) for use with bilingual teachers in the United States and in French (Intervention préventive en lecture-écriture) for Francophone and French immersion students in Canada. The reconstruction of Reading Recovery in Danish is underway in Denmark. Guidelines for reconstructing Reading Recovery into other languages are comprehensive and closely monitored to ensure successful outcomes.

Commitment to Ongoing Professional Learning

An overview of Reading Recovery would be incomplete without attention to its exemplary model of professional learning across the international context. Professional networks of expertise are important in Reading Recovery: from thetrainers who train tutors/teacher leaders, to the tutors/teacher leaders who train theteachers, to the teachers who make teaching decisions in their lessons with children. For all Reading Recovery professionals, a full academic year of initial professional development is followed in subsequent years by ongoing support sessions.

International Outcomes

A unique feature of Reading Recovery is the way in which each country accounts for the outcomes of all children who have received a series of lessons. Data collection procedures and student outcomes are remarkably similar across countries.

Research on the effectiveness of Reading Recovery has also continued around the world. Consistency of independent findings on the effectiveness of the intervention in very different settings offers compelling evidence that Reading Recovery accomplishes its goals.

A Commitment to the Future

Reading Recovery has a built-in responsiveness to change. Marie Clay worked with a dynamically changing theory and was receptive to the discourse of new research and theory as well as flexibility in solving problems in systemic intervention. Members of the International Reading Recovery Trainers Organization (IRRTO) are committed to her vision of a dynamic intervention for the future of children, teachers, schools, and society.

This brief overview is drawn from comprehensive explanations in Boundless Horizons: Marie Clay’s Search for the Possible in Children’s Literacy.

Learn More About Reading Recovery

International Directory of trademark Reading Recovery country websites

Watson, B., & Askew, B. (2009). Boundless horizons: Marie Clay’s search for the possible in children’s literacy. Auckland, NZ: Heinemann.

Schmitt, M. C., Askew, B. J., Fountas, I. C., Lyons, C. A., & Pinnell, G. S. (2005).Changing futures: The influence of Reading Recovery in the United States.Worthington, OH: Reading Recovery Council of North America.

Skip to toolbar