The $55M i3 trial of “Reading Recovery”

Results were biased by measuring outcomes when the intervention group hit their success target. 

Reading Recovery (RR), a method for helping poor readers, designed on the basis of research in the 1970s by New Zealand psychologist Marie Clay, is a worldwide movement. It is controversial, partly because it is a semi-secret commercial programme for which schools or parents have to pay, and partly because it emphasises “whole language” rather than phonics based methods.

In 2015 RR was evaluated in a large and expensive ($55M) randomised controlled trial in the United States. The report of the first year of the randomised element (click here ) is behind a paywall, but a copy is available here i3 reading recovery trial.  The full report of all four randomisation years, as well as the non-randomised scale-up phase is free (click here) or reading_recovery_final_report.

The trial has been criticised by some educationalists…

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