Statement on Ontario Human Rights Commission Right to Read Report

The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery applauds the Ontario Human Rights Commission for the ambitious inquiry into how Ontario’s publicly funded English-speaking schools are ensuring students with reading disabilities are learning to read.  The Inquiry placed a needed spotlight on teaching students with reading disabilities, systemic issues in education and on preparing educators to teach literacy.

We wholeheartedly agree that learning to read and write is vitally important and a basic human right for all children.  We deeply believe that all children should have access to the education and professionals that will ensure they are able to learn to read and write.  

The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery is gravely concerned, however, that some of the program evaluations and recommendations within the report do not reflect recent advances in the science of reading instruction currently endorsed by the international academic community.[1]  We would point to the International Literacy Association’s recent summary of research regarding the nature of effective, scientific reading interventions in which they caution:

“emphasis on dyslexia and direct phonics instruction is far too narrow…The comprehensive studies of Reading First interventions that had an intensive focus on decoding indicated positive effects for decoding ability but not for comprehension. Even more concerning is the unsupported claim in some recent articles that all students should receive the same decoding content in the same sequence and in the same way, which not supported by research. In fact, this practice can actually have negative consequences.[2] (p. 5)

Children in Ontario schools possess a diversity of identities, lived experiences, ways of knowing, skills and abilities.  Literacy instruction in schools, including those emphasizing word reading accuracy and fluency, must therefore arise from a deep knowledge of students and their families, support high expectations for student achievement, embed opportunities for students to build and construct their knowledge and nurture an environment in which students feel seen, heard, valued and represented.  There is nothing settled or simple about teaching children.  Gholdy Muhammad states in her book Cultivating Genius, “Students need rich meaningful experiences when learning skills – experiences that engage mind and heart and help shape positive school histories.” (p. 98).

The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery asserts that Reading Recovery’s design meets or exceeds the 5 key requirements to teach foundational reading skills described in the report.

  1. Curriculum and instruction that reflects the scientific research on the best approaches to teach word reading. This includes explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics, which teaches grapheme to phoneme (letter-sound) relationships and using these to decode and spell words, and word-reading accuracy and fluency. It is critical to adequately prepare and support teachers to deliver this instruction.”

Reading Recovery is one of the most effective, evidence-based[3] Tier 2 literacy interventions for Grade 1 students that is available in both English and French.[4]  

A daily 30-minute Reading Recovery lesson is individualized to a student’s needs and provides explicit, direct, personalized instruction in reading and writing to develop students’ knowledge and skills in:

  • Phonological awareness and phonics
  • Word making, analysis, and morphology
  • Immediate recognition of words and spelling
  • Application of word recognition and solving skills in connected texts

“Students progress at a much faster rate in phonics when the bulk of instructional time is spent on applying the skills to authentic reading and writing experiences.” (p. 6)[5]

  • Decoding, comprehending, and self-regulation
  • Reading fluency

The development of students’ independence, self-confidence, and their formation of an identity as a reader and writer is also of critical importance in Reading Recovery.

The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery believes that teachers require specialized training in literacy instruction to become well-equipped to teach students with reading and writing difficulties.  We applaud the Right to Read report highlighting the need for improved training of pre-service teachers and professional learning for practicing teachers.  We use a “Train the Trainer” model so that school boards build internal local capacity in their own staff to have the knowledge and skills to facilitate Reading Recovery professional learning. Teachers trained in Reading Recovery receive over 300 hours of comprehensive, job-embedded training and are specifically trained to understand a complex, research supported literacy processing theory and apply it to individual student learning. Reading Recovery implements its intervention with quality professional development and ongoing coaching for teachers through monthly professional learning sessions and regular in-school visits.  This sustained approach to professional learning is part of the school’s comprehensive approach to literacy. 

These trained teachers are a tremendous asset to the school as they work in collaboration with classroom and special education teachers and apply their Reading Recovery skills and knowledge in assessment practices, effective lesson planning and meaningful accommodations in response to student diversity[6]

Reading Recovery has been used as a Grade 1 early intervention in Canada since 1989.  In Ontario, Reading Recovery has served over 100,000 students, trained over 15,000 teachers and provided more than 4 million hours of professional learning sessions to educators.  Reading Recovery offers the experience, know-how and expertise honed over decades to be an effective part of the solution for Ontario students’ Right to Read.

  1.  “Early screening of all students using common, standardized evidence-based screening assessments twice a year from Kindergarten to Grade 2, to identify students at risk for reading difficulties for immediate, early, tiered interventions.”

Reading Recovery uses the Observation Survey for Early Literacy Achievement a reliable, valid, systematic and standard set of tasks to screen for phonological processing, word identification, spelling, and passage reading to determine Grade 1 students in need of an early literacy intervention[7].  It has been normed through research studies with Canadian students across three points of the Grade 1 school year[8].  Collectively, the tasks of the survey provide comprehensive information about what a child can do as a starting point for instruction and helps the teacher to ensure an individual focus on specific areas in reading and writing that require targeted support. 

The Observation Survey tasks, listed below, yield rich information for screening, intervening, lesson planning and monitoring a child’s progress over time including:

  1. Concepts About Print – knowledge of foundational principles, including directionality and regulators of decoding and interpreting English print (concepts of letters, words, book handling)
  2. Letter Identification – knowledge of English alphabet in upper- and lower-case forms linked to letter names, sounds or words
  3. Word Reading – vocabulary of immediately identified words in reading
  4. Writing Vocabulary – vocabulary of correctly spelled words in writing
  5. Hearing and Recording Sounds in Words – ability to hear sounds within words (phonological/phonemic awareness) and represent those sounds with letters (phonics)
  6. Instructional Text Level – parameters for teachers to guide text selection to foster instructional conditions with sufficient challenge to move reading forward without overwhelming a learner
  7. Burt Word Reading Test (NZCER) – ability to recognize, analyze and solve complex words through analysis of letter/sounds and word parts
  8. Reading interventions that are early, evidence-based, fully implemented and closely monitored and available to ALL students who need them, and ongoing interventions for all readers with word reading difficulties.”

Reading Recovery is an early intervention for Grade 1 students identified through screening as having the most difficulty learning to read and write and does not require a learning disability diagnosis to participate.  Standards and guidelines provide consistent, research informed student selection criteria.  Reading Recovery is complementary to curriculum and classroom instruction. The classroom teacher and the Reading Recovery teacher work in tandem to ensure students are making literacy learning gains.  It is a short-term preventative intervention (about 40 hours of instruction) that provides instruction to close achievement gaps for most students and acts as a screening and referral service for longer more intensive remediation programs.

Additionally, the Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery vigorously refutes the claim in the Right to Read report that Reading Recovery lacks scientific evidence of effectiveness.  Reading Recovery is among the most researched literacy intervention in the English-speaking world.  It has received the highest ranking from the United States’ Institute of Educational Science and through independent studies of effectiveness including study of its long term effects conducted in the United Kingdom.  Reading Recovery is the highest ranked early literacy intervention in the  What Works Clearinghouse review of the i3 scale up of Reading Recovery in the US and has presented scientific evidence demonstrating its effectiveness relative to other reading interventions recommended in the OHRC Right to Read inquiry.[9]

The OHRC recommends improving data collection, analysis and reporting in several key areas. The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery has collected 30 years of data demonstrating its long-standing accountability to stakeholders through the continuous tracking of the short- and long-term progress of every Reading Recovery student, regardless of their achievement in the intervention. Standardized assessments are administered pre- and post-intervention and at the end of the Grade 1, 2 and 3 years. Reading Recovery teachers collect data of student learning daily to make immediate instructional adjustments and monitor progress.  School based data is used for primary literacy program planning. System data is reported regularly to senior administrators and the Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery collects data from school districts annually at the provincial and national level[10].  This data is used to monitor the overall effectiveness of Reading Recovery and guide its continuous improvement and ongoing research.

  1. Accommodations (and modifications to curriculum expectations) should not be used as a substitute for teaching students to read. Accommodations should always be provided along with evidence-based curriculum and reading interventions. When students need accommodations (for example, assistive technology), they should be timely, consistent, effective and supported in the classroom.”

Reading Recovery works because it tailors the intervention to each student based on the results of screening assessments.  This allows incorporation of student strengths and specialized attention to what they need to learn.  The curriculum expectations are never modified as Reading Recovery believes that all children can learn to read and write when given effective, research based, responsive instruction. Reading Recovery teachers can adapt and accommodate the lesson to meet specific disabilities and individual diversity, but the expectation is for children to become more independent, accurate, fluent and active readers and writers every day.  Students also compose and write daily to build composing, phonics, word solving and spelling skills.  Reading Recovery teachers collaborate with classroom teachers to make links between the classroom literacy expectations and the intervention lessons.

Teachers of Reading Recovery know how to accommodate students with reading difficulties by not only selecting texts with words that students can decode and read quickly but also analysing texts for engagement, cultural relevance and to achieve the goal of reading to understand and make meaning.  Students’ comprehension, oral language and literacy learning is purposefully supported through conversations that build vocabulary and background knowledge.  In every Reading Recovery lesson, students learn about printing letters, spelling words and writing sentences in ways that match the child’s current abilities and incorporate their interests and lived experiences.  The one-on-one instructional format ensures that the student learning can easily be accommodated in timely, consistent, effective and supported ways (i.e. visual schedules, movement breaks, additional time, breaking tasks down into smaller components, pencil grip/ writing supports, other recommendations from professional assessments). Reading Recovery teachers are in regular communication with families and this relationship supports conversations about accommodations necessary for student achievement.

  1.  “Professional assessments, particularly psychoeducational assessments, should be timely and based on clear, transparent, written criteria that focus on the student’s response to intervention. Criteria and requirements for professional assessments should account for the risk of bias for students who are culturally or linguistically diverse, racialized, who identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit, or come from less economically privileged backgrounds. Professional assessments should never be required for interventions or accommodations.”

Reading Recovery is inclusive. It does not require any professional assessments prior to students participating in the intervention.  Students are eligible for Reading Recovery intervention regardless of diagnosis, English language learning, disability, race, socio-economic status or Indigenous identity.  Reading Recovery is a particularly timely intervention that is provided only to students in Grade 1 when a majority of students have not yet had the opportunity to complete a psychoeducational assessment and at a time when intervention is most effective[11].  One of the systemic benefits of Reading Recovery is that some students are accurately identified much earlier as being candidates for further professional assessment and Tier 3 interventions.  Reading Recovery teachers get to know these students personally and academically very well and they work closely with school teams regarding early referrals and recommendations for additional assessment and supports.    

The concluding statement in the report is as follows:

“As this report does not address all aspects of a comprehensive approach to literacy, further research will be needed to make sure Ontario addresses all the critical components of a rich language arts curriculum while improving its approaches to teaching foundational reading skills.

School boards in Ontario that are implementing Reading Recovery are at an advantage because they have already developed a comprehensive approach to literacy that addresses all of the critical components required. Grade 1 students who are in Reading Recovery have access to the world’s most researched early literacy intervention with specially trained literacy specialists, individualized instruction in reading and writing, early screening and on-going monitoring that supports evidence based, rich classroom language arts instruction.  Reading Recovery is a valuable part of any school board’s comprehensive approach to literacy.  As such, Reading Recovery is an intervention that works along side recommendations and should be named among the interventions included in the OHRC Right to Read report that will ensure all Ontario students are able to read.

“It has been one of the surprises of Reading Recovery that all kinds of children with all kinds of difficulties can be included, can learn, and can reach average-band performance for their class in both reading and writing achievement. Exceptions are not made for children of lower intelligence, for second-language children, for children with low language skills, for children with poor motor coordination, for children who seem immature, for children who score poorly on readiness measures, or for children who have been categorized by someone else as learning disabled.” (p. 60)[12]

~Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery, March 8, 2022

Ontario Human Rights Commission, Right to Read Report: https://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/right-to-read-inquiry-report

[1] Duke, N., & Cartwright, K. B. (2021). The science of reading progresses: Communicating advances beyond the simple view of reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(51), 525-544. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.411

[2] International Literacy Association. (2019). Children experience reading difficulties: What we know and what we can do [Position Statement].


[3] May, H., Sirinides, P. M., Gray, A., & Goldsworthy, H. (2016). Reading Recovery: An evaluation of the four-year i3 scale-up. https://readingrecovery.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/i3_evaluation_of_reading_recovery_final_report-rev-web.pdf; What Works Clearinghouse. “Reading Recovery: An Evaluation of the four-year i3 scale-up” https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/study/32027

[4] See the end of this statement for a detailed ranking of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of Reading Recovery in comparison to other interventions included in the Right to Read report.

[5] International Literacy Association. Meeting the challenge of early literacy phonics instruction [Position Statement].  https://www.literacyworldwide.org/docs/default-source/where-we-stand/ila-meeting-challenges-early-literacy-phonics-instruction.pdf

[6] Stouffer, J. (2016). A palette of excellence: Contextualizing the reported benefits of Reading Recovery training to Canadian primary classroom teachers. The Journal of Reading Recovery, 15(2), 31-48.

[7] National Centre on Intensive Intervention at the American Institutes for Research. (n.d.). Observation survey of early literacy achievement (osela)reading. Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (OSELA). Retrieved March 6, 2022, from https://charts.intensiveintervention.org/screening/tool/?id=77c5c64492268897

[8] Clay, Marie. (2019) An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement, Fourth Edition. The Marie Clay Literacy Trust

[9] See table at the end of this statement for a detailed ranking of scientific evidence regarding effectiveness of Reading Recovery in comparison to other interventions included in the Right to Read report produced by the What Works Clearinghouse

[10] Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery, National Data Report (2018-19): https://rrcanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/CIRR-National-Implementation-Report_2018-19_Final.pdf

[11] Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2022). Right to Read Executive Summary. Government of Ontario

[12] Clay, M. M. (1991). Reading Recovery surprises. In D. DeFord, C. A. Lyons, & G. S. Pinnell (Eds.), Bridges to literacy (pp. 55-74). Heinemann.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Literacy Interventions

Educators receive a lot of information every day from parents, district administrators, education publishing companies, education magazines and even social media. It can be overwhelming and difficult to make sense of it all most days. Even knowing where to begin can be challenging.

A new resource is now available to provide an easy to use tool that can help school district administrators and principals make sense of the effectiveness of early literacy interventions and aid in considering which ones will have the most impact on those students in the school who are having the most difficulty in learning to read and write.

Simply use a copy of the tool for every intervention being considered to mark out on the scale where each intervention lands and consider the strengths of each and where each could improve.

Download the resource: Measuring the Effectiveness of Literacy Interventions

Find other resources here.

giril with book

Pandemic Teaching – Using Reading Recovery Teachers in School Literacy Teams

2020 has presented students, teachers, principals and school administrators with new challenges and opportunities that we never would have thought we would be experiencing when New Years Day dawned in 2020. Now that 2021 has come upon us we realize that we have all learned a lot and we know that we are so much more flexible and adaptable than we ever thought possible!

If you are in a school with a Reading Recovery teacher you have a tremendous asset in your midst. If you are that Reading Recovery teacher you know just what is possible!

How can a Reading Recovery teacher help with classroom instruction during a pandemic?
  • Bring a literacy processing lens to classroom instruction
  • Help with assessment of students new to the school or who have been at home, by finding their literacy strengths and creating a plan to build on them
  • Interpret and analyze reading processing
  • Support oral language development
  • Act as a coach with a classroom teacher
  • Provide valuable input into the development of individual education plans

Download and share this resource to find out more ways Reading Recovery teachers can benefit not only classrooms and school literacy teams but the entire school literacy achievement.

York Region Reaches Milestone 25 Years of Reading Recovery Success

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!

Janice Van Dyke, Central Region Reading Recovery Trainer presents a certificate to Heather Sears, Superintendent of Curriculum and Instructional Services

       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 YRDSB Reading Recovery Leadership Team

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.

Pam Jones, the first Reading Recovery Teacher Leader in YRDSB and an Ontario Reading Recovery Trainer cuts the cake to celebrate a milestone achievement!

Reading Recovery yields proven results – Winnipeg School Division

(with files from WSD’s Reading Recovery team)originally publishing on the Winnipeg School Division website – reproduced her in entirety- https://www.winnipegsd.ca/about%20wsd/news/pages/reading-recovery-yields-proven-results.aspx

When 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).

“Reading 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.”

The 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.

Reading Recovery team small.jpg

Pictured above: Sarah Arnold, Holly Cumming and Michelle Hildebrand at WSD’s Reading Recovery headquarters at Sir William Osler School.

Reading 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 teaching.

“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 daily basis.

Meeting the needs of the child

Following 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.

“We 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 confidence up.”

Reading Recovery 2019 004.jpg

By allowing students to experience success each session, teachers bolster their confidence in handling new material.

“One 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.

“We 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 new.”

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 instruction.

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.


Data 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 Manitoba.

“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.

Data can inform new teaching strategies, which Reading Recovery teachers gather through a continual focus on professional development.

Reading Recover 2019 observation.jpg

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.

“Our goal 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.

By having several teachers there simply to observe, they are able to offer many perspectives that assist the teacher and the student.

“We’re able 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

Reading Recovery places a heavy emphasis on professional development, starting with an intensive first training year for teachers.

“It’s a 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.”

Ms. 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 students.

Reading Recovery continues to focus on professional development following a teacher’s first training year.

“As 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

If a child is struggling to read at the Grade 1 level, Reading Recovery practitioners often take a look at oral language acquisition.

 “One 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.

“You 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.

“The 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.”

Ms. Hildebrand adds: “Oral language is the foundation for literacy development. That’s where we see a huge impact on the children we’re working with.”

Reading Recovery in French

Reading Recovery is also available for students who are learning to read and write en français.

IPLÉ (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.

“It 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.”

Ms. Arnold would like to see French formal reading instruction implemented at earlier grade levels than what is currently prescribed in the curriculum.

“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

Because Reading Recovery targets students early in their education, it can put them back on the pathway to success in a timely manner.

“It’s a 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.”

20 Years of Reading Recovery in PEI

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!

Current Reading Recovery Teachers and Teacher Leaders celebrating 20 years of success

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.

First Trainer – Diane Stuart and First Teacher Leader – Georgina Clow

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!

A Principal’s Guide to Reading Recovery in Canada

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.

The Cost Effectiveness of Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery is money well spent!

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.

A copy of this article can be found here.