In May the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) in Ontario celebrated their milestone achievement of 25 years of Reading Recovery implementation in their board. Many past and present Reading Recovery Teachers, Teacher Leaders, Administrators, Parents and Students attended an event to mark the achievement!
In the past 25 years, over 22 000 students have been served in Reading Recovery in the YRDSB! In addition, over 800 teachers have been trained in Reading Recovery and have utilized their deep knowledge of literacy learning throughout all subsequent roles in their teaching careers.
In 2018-19, YRDSB has 206 teachers currently teaching Reading Recovery in 158 schools along with 27 teachers in training! On average 40 other students are supported by Reading Recovery teachers each and every day in their other roles.
The impact of Reading Recovery on students and their families has been tremendous and as a result the future is bright! More information about Reading Recovery in YRDSB can be found on their website.
a student faces challenges in learning to read and write, Reading
Recovery is an early intervention program that has yielded proven
results in Manitoba for the past 25 years.
In Winnipeg School
Division, where the program has been officially in operation for 21
years, approximately 41 out of 55 schools with Grade 1 students (who are
the main focus of the program) have taken part in Reading Recovery.
Approximately 500 WSD students receive lessons in Reading Recovery each
school year (based on average data from the last five years).
Recovery addresses inequities for children who are entering our school
system, and works to catch up those students who have fallen behind,”
said Michelle Hildebrand, a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. “By the end
of Grade 1, most will have caught up to their average peers. According
to our data in WSD for our English program last year, 81 per cent of
students in Reading Recovery who completed their lesson series were able
to catch up. We find that most of those children won’t need any
remedial or resource support after their time in Reading Recovery. They
actually continue to maintain their gains and learn from their efforts
and the instruction they’re receiving in the classroom. That’s huge.”
program has seen similar successes worldwide. Reading Recovery was
created by educator and researcher Dame Marie Clay 45 years ago in New
Zealand; the program now runs in Canada, the United States, the United
Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Malta,
and Cayman Islands.
Pictured above: Sarah Arnold, Holly Cumming and Michelle Hildebrand at WSD’s Reading Recovery headquarters at Sir William Osler School.
Recovery targets first graders who may be encountering reading
difficulties; the intervention works best when it is made available to
all students who may need it, and is used to supplement good classroom
“When Dame Marie Clay first developed this intervention,
she was thinking of what’s possible for all students, what’s possible
for all learners, especially those with reading problems,” said Holly
Cumming, a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. “Marie Clay said that by
sailing in new directions, you can change the world. That’s so true,
because when we teach children to read and write and become strong in
literacy, it truly changes their world.”
As Reading Recovery
Teacher Leaders, Ms. Cumming, Ms. Hildebrand and fellow Teacher Leader
Sarah Arnold work in three concentric circles that include professional
development and training other teachers in Reading Recovery, as well as
implementing the program at the school and systemic level. But the
centre circle is undoubtedly the students, with whom they work on a
Meeting the needs of the child
the Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement assessment,
individual students receive a half-hour lesson each school day for 12-20
weeks, working one-on-one with a trained Reading Recovery teacher.
start our lessons with what we refer to as ‘Roaming Around the Known’.
We build on what a student already knows and make a gradual progression
through reading levels,” Ms. Arnold said. “In the beginning of each
session, we do some familiar reading, to get their orchestration and
By allowing students to experience success each session, teachers bolster their confidence in handling new material.
of the lenses Clay created was to realize that it’s important that we
look for what students can already do, and use those strengths as a
springboard for new learning,” Ms. Cumming said. “When you build off a
child’s successes, and get to do that on a daily basis, it really helps a
struggling student achieve accelerated learning.”
Reading Recovery teachers take extensive records of each day’s session with a student.
look at what strategies we’re doing, and based on analysis of those
records, we are able to target our instruction specifically for each
child,” Ms. Arnold said. “Once you get to know these students, you can
arrange for them to have success any time they are learning something
Once a student meets grade-level expectations and
demonstrates an ability to work independently in the classroom, they are
closely monitored as they transition back to classroom-only
The vast majority of Reading Recovery students who
complete the full 12-20 week intervention are brought up to grade-level
expectations in reading and writing.
Students who are still having
difficulty following the initial intervention are recommended for
further evaluation and possible future supports. These supports can
range from classroom supports, resource supports and specialist
referral, assessment and programming. Diagnostic information, collected
during the Reading Recovery process, can inform the next best steps to
assist the child.
“Those students have still often made
substantial progress, but they need a little more time with
individualized help,” Ms. Cumming said. “So we will recommend those
students for a longer term of support or for more specialist help.
We’ll have much diagnostic information on these students so that we can
provide schools with an action plan going forward to support their
continued literacy progress. We will monitor those students up to the
end of Grade 3.”
Ultimately, for every child that enters into
Reading Recovery, 100 per cent of them see significant benefits. Four
times a year, a Reading Recovery teacher will check up on former Reading
Recovery students (up to the end of Grade 3) to ensure they are
maintaining their gains—and if there are any issues, will work with the
classroom teacher to ensure they are being addressed.
collection is an important part of the Reading Recovery process. Along
with tracking an individual student’s progress, data can identify wider
trends amongst students. This data, in turn, is given to the Province of
“Reading Recovery is one of the most well-researched
literacy interventions in the entire world,” Ms. Cumming said. “Our
teachers gather data daily, weekly, they make monthly reflections and we
have a huge year end data collection around the world for Reading
Recovery. Here in the Winnipeg School Division, we collect data and
analyze it, develop our goals for next year and then we send it off to
the province and they do their own analysis of it.”
That data is
in turn reviewed by Reading Recovery representatives on a national and
international level, as they seek to incorporate the latest data, trends
and best practises into their daily work with students.
inform new teaching strategies, which Reading Recovery teachers gather
through a continual focus on professional development.
Pictured above: During Reading Recovery sessions at Sir William
Osler School, a teacher will work with a student while colleagues
observe and make notes of their interactions with students. It’s a way
to observe in an inobtrusive manner and offer feedback.
is to have a conversation about what we see. Partly, it’s a way to lift
our own understandings of the literacy processing theory in which we
work, and also it’s a way to be able to offer feedback to our colleague.
What we see is working, and what other approaches that teacher may take
to help that particular student,” Ms. Hildebrand said.
several teachers there simply to observe, they are able to offer many
perspectives that assist the teacher and the student.
to offer insights that teacher may not be able to see because they’re
in the midst of teaching and thinking about the next steps in that
lesson,” Ms. Cumming said. “It’s a window to truly understanding how
children come to read and write.”
Learning for life
Recovery places a heavy emphasis on professional development, starting
with an intensive first training year for teachers.
year-long process. Teachers often say that it is very robust, but it’s
the best professional development they’ve ever had,” Ms. Cumming said.
“Within that year of training those teachers are working with four
children every day as well. They’re attending 18 half-day in-service
sessions throughout the year, along with four assessment sessions…so
there’s a lot of professional development in that first year. Learning
about what may be puzzling a young student when it comes to reading can
be very complex. We focus on theory to figure out what a particular
child needs and what are the next steps for teaching.”
Cumming, Ms. Arnold and Ms. Hildebrand will also visit Reading Recovery
teachers-in-training at their schools, observing their process with
students and offering supports where needed. Working with Teacher
Leaders, a Reading Recovery teacher develops observational skills and a
variety of intervention techniques that meet the needs of at-risk
Reading Recovery continues to focus on professional development following a teacher’s first training year.
long as a teacher is in Reading Recovery, they continue to come for
professional development,” Ms. Hildebrand said. “They have eight
professional development sessions throughout the year as opposed to the
18 in their training year. And we still go out and visit them in their
schools as well.”
Oral language as a gateway to reading and writing
a child is struggling to read at the Grade 1 level, Reading Recovery
practitioners often take a look at oral language acquisition.
area we’ve done quite a bit of data collection on is oral language. We
know that there is a high percentage of children that come into Reading
Recovery and in classrooms whose oral language is at risk for learning
to read and write,” Ms. Cumming said. “That might mean that they didn’t
have the opportunities to gain what they needed from birth to age 5-6.
So now they may be behind in terms of being able to pick up storyline
and vocabulary…they just haven’t acquired those skills yet. We’re
working very hard in Reading Recovery and in schools to see if we can
make up for that lack of experiences and help students develop more of
an oral language that helps them be readers and writers.”
Students can fall behind in oral language acquisition for a variety of reasons.
can have newcomer children who simply haven’t had many language
experiences in English or French, and they’re being asked to read text
in those languages,” Ms. Hildebrand said. “It could also be that the
dialect at home is different than what is being spoken at school. Book
language is another challenge for children, because books sound
different than the way we talk. So if a child hasn’t had a lot of
experience with books at home, then that can cause challenges as well.”
Social interaction is the key to developing oral language in early childhood.
interactions that happen at home, the stories that are read, the
conversations that are had…they really do make a difference,” Ms.
Cumming said. “Many of our children may not have yet had that exposure,
so that’s where we’re trying to help. If you don’t hear that language in
your formative years, it’s harder to use the language later on.”
Hildebrand adds: “Oral language is the foundation for literacy
development. That’s where we see a huge impact on the children we’re
Reading Recovery in French
Reading Recovery is also available for students who are learning to read and write en français.
(Intervention préventive en lecture-écriture) currently has seven
teachers in six WSD schools. The program, which has WSD French Reading
Recovery teachers working alongside teachers from three other divisions,
began as a pilot project in 2007-08 and is continuing to grow.
all started out with the question of what is possible for our young
immersion students as well,” said Ms. Arnold, who works in the English
and French versions of the program. “We discovered that our weakest
students could also learn to write and read in French.”
would like to see French formal reading instruction implemented at
earlier grade levels than what is currently prescribed in the
“The classrooms and teachers that are implementing it
earlier are successful,” Ms. Arnold said. “Any extra boost we can give
students in that Grade 1 classroom, just benefits them along the line,
because it’s their language of instruction.”
Cost-effective and timely
Reading Recovery targets students early in their education, it can put
them back on the pathway to success in a timely manner.
cost-effective program socially, because right at the beginning of a
child’s experience in school, they are getting that extra boost and
benefit of having a Reading Recovery teacher as well their classroom
teacher,” Ms. Hildebrand said. “We’re addressing that child’s needs
early, before they get into ways of working with text that aren’t
helpful for them, or before they fall into a pattern of thinking about
themselves as someone who can’t learn.
“The power of that early intervention is amazing.”
2019 is a milestone year in PEI where Reading Recovery has been serving young children for 20 years. Reading Recovery is available in both English and French for children in Grade 1 who are struggling the most to learn to read and write!
So many people have been involved in successfully implementing Reading Recovery, from teachers to administrators to teacher leaders to ministry staff and of course the Reading Recovery Trainer.
We gratefully acknowledge the partnership and collaboration with the PEI Department of Education, English and French school boards, schools, principals, teachers, parents, and students throughout the implementation of 20 years of Reading Recovery on PEI!
Are you a Principal or Vice-Principal responsible for the implementation of Reading Recovery in your school? Would you like an amazing reference guide to assist you in understanding Reading Recovery and supporting your Reading Recovery Teachers so that your young students can achieve success in reading and writing?
The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery is delighted to announce the publication of A Principal’s Guide to Reading Recovery in Canada (2018). This 80 page, full colour guide recognizes the key role that principals play in ensuring success for Reading Recovery Students and Teachers in their schools.
The guide includes chapters on:
What is Reading Recovery/IPLÉ
Principal’s Key Role in Reading Recovery
Key Personnel for Reading Recovery
Professional Development and Reading Recovery
Evaluation of Student Outcomes
Reading Recovery/IPLÉ in your School
Generating Support and Sustaining Reading Recovery/IPLÉ in your School
Role of Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery, Sample Interview Questions, Working with Reading Recovery Teachers, Standards and Guidelines for Teacher Training
This invaluable guide is $10 and can be pre-ordered now. We are accepting bulk orders for this book from school districts who complete this order form. Orders will be filled by mid-December. We encourage school districts to purchase copies for each of their Principals, Vice-Principals and other School Administrators as well as a few extra copies for future needs. Orders will be shipped directly to the district.
The book can also be downloaded at no cost for use on your electronic devices.
We thank the Canadian Reading Recovery Trainers (Jennifer Flight, Christine Fraser, Yvette Heffernan, Allyson Matczuk, and Janice Van Dyke) for their work in editing the content of this guide and ensuring that it is a very useful document for years to come.
We often hear from professionals in school districts who say that they cannot implement Reading Recovery because the cost is too high and that it requires too much teacher time. A new article from the Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery explains that investing in Reading Recovery is not as expensive as you might think.
“The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory.” ~ aldo gucci
In the article, Cost vs. Cost Effectiveness, authors Allyson Matczuk and Jennifer Flight, Reading Recovery Trainers in the Western Region, explain that there is a need to utilize cost-effectiveness as a method of comparing literacy interventions. However, they note that Reading Recovery cannot be compared to interventions that serve all students because Reading Recovery serves the lowest 20% of students. “Helping a struggling emerging reader to learn to read is a different objective than helping an average student to learn to read.”
The article includes a descriptive chart to compare the costs of delivering Reading Recovery with small group literacy intervention, resource support and grade retention. It highlights that Reading Recovery is an intervention that not only targets reading but also writing in less time and with greater success at less cost than small group literacy strategies, resource support or the classroom teaching alone in Grade 1.
An added benefit to Reading Recovery is not only the inclusion of writing but also the training and on-going professional development that teachers receive. Teachers receive high quality training in order to work with students, track student progress and design individual lessons to ensure the best possible learning environment. Teachers have reported that the training and on-going support is some of the best professional development they have ever received. These trained teachers are able to support literacy learning for the entire classroom.
The true cost of not implementing Reading Recovery is that young students do not learn to enjoy learning or develop a curiosity about the world through books. They will struggle throughout their education and will often grow up to not have the self-confidence needed to learn to read well later in life. Offering Reading Recovery to the lowest achieving students in Grade 1 is an investment in the future of children and the future of our communities.