No, Reading Recovery doesn’t work in America

Filling the pail

A couple of years ago, I reported on a large randomised controlled trial in the U.S. of Reading Recovery. I pointed out that, as with other studies of Reading Recovery, it was impossible to tell whether the instructional procedures used were responsible for any effect. Instead, any gains may have been due to the one-to-one tuition format of the intervention. After all, one-to-one tuition has been held up as a ideal form of instruction by none other than Benjamin Bloom.

Since my original post, I have also pointed out that, when compared on similar outcome measures, Reading Recovery tends to generate smaller effects than programmes based on systematic synthetic phonics (SSP). I am cautious about comparing effect sizes but such an approach has the greatest validity when comparing children of the same age learning the same content, as in this case. The greater effectiveness of SSP hardly surprising given the…

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